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Of the many barriers the the International E-commerce Expansion Benchmark Study highlighted, the one that requires the most urgent attention is the generally poor online experience that most international shoppers encounter, an ironic similarity to the early days of e-commerce in the U.S. the study points out.

Another key finding was that an expanded range of strategic options has replaced the “all or nothing” mindset that until recently prevailed among international strategists. Each option has its own different risk/reward profile and collectively, they provide online retailers and consumer brands greater strategic flexibility, which is critical in today’s challenging retail environment.

A “middle” stage of international e-commerce expansion is emerging, which the study calls the “Participatory” stage. Aided in part by the emergence of “sell-and-ship” solutions providers, this stage offers online retailers a low-cost, low-risk way to dramatically improve the international customer experience while also ramping up global sales.

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