The past couple of months have seen a number of new initiatives and shifts on the global online retail front: Zara went live with a series of eCommerce sites (in five languages in Spain alone) while Gap started selling to an international online audience. At the same time, eBay conceded the market in China and looked to partner with market leader Alibaba. More companies have started coming to us asking about eCommerce in less traditional markets, with markets like Russia and Saudi Arabia being brought up with increasing frequency in our calls with clients.

We’ve recently published some research that helps companies sort through different international online markets: our Global Online Population Forecast looks at how the online population is shifting around the globe while A Snapshot Of Emerging Mobile Commerce In China puts the growth of mCommerce in China in perspective with its regional neighbors. Establishing A Global Online Retail Footprint looks at where US online retailers have expanded internationally and what factors they should consider as they decide which new markets to target. A few takeaways from recent research:

  • The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will add more than 300 million new Internet users over the next five years; one-third of all Internet users will live in these countries by 2014.
  • North America’s share of the global online population will decline from 16% to just 13% by 2014. By contrast, Asia’s will increase to 44% of the total.
  • While online users in Asia tend to be the most regular users of mobile Internet services, few are currently buying products on their mobile devices. What are far more popular are options like mobile coupons, which have become highly popular in markets like South Korea, India and China.
  • An increasing number of US online retailers are launching localized eCommerce sites for different international markets, but today these efforts remain highly focused on Canada and a handful of markets in Europe:  Only five markets in total have attracted more than 20% of the top 50 US online retailers.   

Stay tuned as we gear up to publish our first-ever online retail forecasts for key markets in Asia and Latin America later this year. In addition, we'll be working on a report on staffing for effective globalization. We'll also soon be brainstorming report ideas for 2011, so if there are particular global topics that are of increasing importance to your online organization, we'd love to hear from you.