Back in 2010, we wrote a report that looked at how and where US online retailers were expanding internationally. Today we published a related report that focuses on brands that have extended their international offerings by launching transactional websites. Establishing A Global Direct Online Sales Footprint looks at the countries where brands are choosing to focus on with their eCommerce offerings, and some of the tactics they’ve used to keep costs in check.

A handful of findings from the report:

Brands rarely enter a market by selling direct on their websites. Most brands enabling eCommerce on their global websites today already sell in these markets through traditional retail channels — the online sales channel simply becomes a new way to reach consumers.

Country selection is not always dictated by market size. Brands expanding their online offerings in Europe, for example, often focus first on the UK, France, and Germany. After the big three, however, the ease and convenience of serving other markets often trumps market size.  

Online sales strategies differ by market. Rare is the brand that has an identical offering in every international market. Most brands that offer eCommerce-enabled sites also provide informational sites in other markets, with little consistency in how the informational sites direct online shoppers to the brands’ retail partners.

Translation levels also vary greatly. Few brands translate the same levels of content for shoppers in every market (not surprisingly, the biggest online markets tend to get most translated content). Many brands link to English-language content for shoppers interested in more information — best practice here is to let users know when they’ll be taken away from their local language to English. Scroll down on LEGO’s Latin American website for an example. 

Brands should also stay tuned for my colleague Andy Hoar's soon-to-be-published report on the Top Three Ways Manufacturers Can Drive Higher Conversion Rates Through The Online Retail Channel.