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The decline of the U.S. dollar has led many domestic online retailers to consider targeting international markets as a way of expanding their customer base and revenue. According to a report by JupiterResearch Inc., "Global Online Retail: Navigating Successful International Expansion," interest among U.S. online merchants in international expansion is higher now than in the past. Yet for these retailers, choosing the right ecommerce technology vendors is, "One of the most daunting aspects of global expansion," said the Jupiter analysts.
Most web retailers looking to expand internationally first turn to their existing ecommerce technology vendors for support. However, that is not always the best option. According to the study. A retailer should thoroughly review a vendor's global capacities before making the decision, the research shows.
In-country language support for customer service is becoming standard for online retailers entering European or Asian markets. "Although retailers can keep costs in-check by providing relatively limited options for customers outside the U.S., skimping on local language service is a poor choice for retailers trying to break into new markets," said Zia Daniell Wigder, Jupiter analyst and author of the report.
Furthermore, when it comes to software to support the ecommerce platform itself, online retailers looking abroad most often rely on U.S.-based or European ecommerce software vendors to build global sites, rather than building them on their own. While a retailer might initially outsource international sites to a different vendor than the one supporting its U.S. site, the merchants should eventually move on to a single platform. "Without a common vendor, leveraging underlying infrastructure for sites becomes difficult," noted Wigder.
In all, decisions about technology vendors on international sites should be the responsibility of a centralized office, with heavy local input, according to Jupiter. But the opposite is true for marketing campaigns. To react to local market conditions, international sites need specific regional authority, within broad guidelines, for advertising and marketing campaigns, the study concludes.
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