Researchers say that new services are making it easier for web merchants to go global. The lure of international ecommerce has long conjured up images of an all-or-nothing approach that requires an expensive overseas based infrastructure. Today, more retailers are finding another way, with minimal cost and risk, according to a new report from the J.C. Williams Group. The report, "International ecommerce Expansion Benchmark Study," notes that 53 percent of the largest ecommerce companies in the U.S., each with $100 million or more in annual revenue, are accepting international orders.
However, while noting that international ecommerce is increasingly important amid a maturing U.S. market, the report also suggests that many of these retailers provide a subpar online shopping experience to their foreign customers. The study was sponsored by Access Technology Solutions, a provider of international ecommerce technology and services, and Safety Pay Inc., a provider of international online payment technology and services.
What is holding many retailers back in their success with international ecommerce are company policies which view foreign markets as merely a source of incremental revenue. Such a status leaves international strategies without the necessary resources or executive champions to build them out, the report said. Nonetheless, recent developments in consumer demand and available technology and services are providing new incentives for U.S. online merchants to grow internationally. "Amazon, eBay and Dell are obvious leaders," said J.C. Williams.
"However, a wave of pure-play, multichannel and global manufacturers are readying plans to drive renewed growth and extend their reach to foreign customers," the J.C. Williams analysts added. Jim Okamura, senior partner of the company, said a growing number of retailers are realizing that they can effectively sell overseas by leveraging their existing U.S. based infrastructure, enhanced by third party applications that support such features as foreign language content on web pages, along with international fulfillment and payment transactions. "Retailers now have a middle ground option that lowers their risk of engaging in international ecommerce," Okamura said. Some retailers are also using foreign markets to test new strategies such as mobile commerce and social media marketing, before introducing them in their U.S. market. In fact, the report noted that social networking and mobile commerce are core aspects of ecommerce in such areas as the Asia Pacific region.
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