By Zia Daniell Wigder

I just arrived back from a packed Shop.org Annual Summit. Several of us
from Forrester took part in the conference, with Sucharita delivering a keynote
on day one and Patti interviewing eBay’s John Donahoe on day two.

My presentation was a quick overview of a recent piece of
research on How To Win Over European Online Shoppers. The goal was to provide a
series of highly tactical site and e-mail marketing tips that would enable
retailers – both those shipping internationally as well as those with localized
sites – to target their initiatives by country within Europe.
Indeed, the demand from Europe shouldn’t be underestimated: some 29% of
UK online users have ordered from US sites vs. just 18% who have ordered from sites
in other European countries

Mine was not the only presentation on the international
topic, but unfortunately the timing of my flight meant I missed Jim Okamura’s global
panel at the end of day two. I did have a chance to catch up with Jim and
others at their global eCommerce dinner, however, and managed to speak with a
variety of different retailers and vendors at the conference who were grappling with global issues.

A few observations:

The UK is currently generating the most interest.
While I got a handful of questions about Canada,
the UK
market was definitely the international market I was asked about most
frequently. This trend held true for companies shipping internationally as well
as for those looking to launch international sites. There was also a lot of
interest in lessons to be learned from UK
retailers, for example in the successful “click to reserve in-store” options
provided by the likes of Argos,
Currys and Tesco.

Retailers are
starting to understand the importance of payment localization.
I present slides that compare and contrast user behavior within different
European countries, it's preferred online payment methods that tend to vary the most from one country to the next. Bank transfers clearly dominate in
the Netherlands and Germany, for example, while in Italy prepaid
cards are hugely popular. This year, I encountered more retailers who were
taking this issue into account than I ever have in the past. I also heard some
words of caution when it came to payment localization: a Norwegian online retailer
told me that when his company added bank transfers for their Dutch and German users,
fraudulent usage increased significantly.

shippers may finally start to translate.
I beat this drum incessantly, but
we’re finally starting to see recognition from retailers shipping
internationally that translated content can help drive conversion in
non-English speaking markets. While online users in countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands
tend to be quite comfortable browsing and ordering in English, the same is not
true for all European markets, and is even less true in some Asian countries. In Japan
and Korea,
for example, over 95% of online consumers prefer websites with content in their
own language. I had several questions from retailers about which part of the
site they should be translating first, and I heard from at least two international
shippers with specific translation plans in place.

Third-party global
solutions continue to gain traction.
I met with a series of companies
assisting online retailers with their global expansion plans including International Checkout, FiftyOne
(E4X), PFSweb and FillTek’s TradeGlobal. All were
working with new clients expanding into international markets and reporting a swell of interest in the topic of globalization. While most are not new
solutions, their momentum seems to be growing, as does their awareness among retailers. And while
Europe still dominates many of their solutions, Asia
remains a significant growth area. I still stand by a chart I created back in
May 2008 that outlines a typical global expansion strategy for online retailers:
the two tweaks I'd make today would be to make the arrow extend directly from US
to the UK (rather than through Canada) and to even further downplay interest in Mexico.

Global expansion plans