British Retailers Set Their Sights on International Markets

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | 6:19 PM


In an increasingly globalised world, consumers are ever more advanced in their knowledge of foreign goods. As international frontiers feel less distant and more accessible, consumers expectations of goods available to them also intensifies. The opportunity presented by the interest in new and emerging markets is proving irresistible to the heavyweights of the British high street such as Primark and Topshop who are now putting global expansion high on their agenda.

For British multichannel businesses such as M&S, whose Chairman last month revealed the retailer’s plans to open a number of physical stores in international locations, their online stores function as the ideal sounding board for such a global experiment. Via online channels, these retailers are uniquely positioned to test the penetration of their brand and offering before building new stores. While the British giant already has 320 stores worldwide, the forced closure of its Paris store in 2001 shows that there is still much to be achieved across Europe. Now able to harness the success of online, M&S looks upon Europe with renewed ambitions.

For the UK's Pure Play retailers, going global means new sites as well as increased shipping and delivery options. Given the volume and pace of international sales it comes as no surprise that online fashion retailer ASOS has launched three local sites in France, Germany and the US in the last three months. Until the launch of these sites all orders had been made through the main site which still delivers to 195 countries. Localized sites, however, mean creating localized experiences for customers, which in turn means improved quality scores and better ranking on search and paid listings on Google.

Top Tips for going Global:

  • Use Analytics Geo Report: Track the traffic per location to the customer site. Simply put, any country that drives traffic to the website is a country with potential customers. Look for vistor volume and bounce rate.
  • Traffic estimator & Google language tools: When used together these tools are great for estimating potential traffic and costs for a given product in a given location. Adding queries in the traffic estimator is easy but what do you do when you want to explore demand in a language that you are not familiar with and that your customer has not even translated his site too? Easy, just go to Google language tools where you can translate a query list or even the whole website.
  • Export Tool: This tool allows you to easily explore search volumes and CPCs around the globe.