Written By: Karl Young, Search Laboratory, Leeds, United Kingdom

Global expansion is an exciting phase in any businesses growth. Moving into new territories and markets provides fantastic opportunities, but there are several questions you should consider before you make the international leap. For each country you want to expand into, ask yourself the following.

How big is the eCommerce market?

It’s really important to consider the number of potential new customers you’ll be reaching by expanding around the world, so researching the eCommerce penetration and growth rates is crucial. For example, despite its smaller population, the UK market is worth more than its Chinese and Indian equivalents, while Japan has one of the fastest growing markets. You can find out more about global eCommerce markets here.

What languages are spoken?

Optimizing your site for different languages is a lot more complicated than simply translating your English equivalent; writing site and regular blog content that is relevant to the cultural nuances of your target market is imperative. You also need to cover the major languages in the specified country – China alone has almost 300 languages.

Who are the users and what do they buy?

Understanding customer behaviour is another key concern. In the top eCommerce markets, users can seemingly buy absolutely anything online but, in less advanced markets that are still catching up, it’s worth researching the user demographics (age, gender, etc.) and what it is they buy.

How does payment and delivery work?

Exploring the logistics of payment and delivery for each new country is also incredibly important. For example, 69% of Russians use cash on delivery to pay, whereas China mainly uses online payment companies like Alipay and Tenpay.

What social media platforms work best?

It’s no longer possible to ignore social media as an extension of digital marketing, so it’s necessary to research which platforms to target. Facebook and Twitter are extremely profitable but considering that four (Qzone, Sina Weibo, Vkontakte and Renren) of the ten most popular social media networks are non-English, you need to think about the other options as well.

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