eCommerce is becoming more globally pervasive. Therefore, retailers must continually adapt their expansion strategies to reflect changing retail consumption behaviors. But what makes a country ready for eCommerce? When making investment decisions, it's certainly important to get the facts about macroeconomic conditions, Internet access, and consumer market size. However, there is much more driving the eCommerce market.

In order for firms to get a full view of a country’s online retail readiness, they must also consider its online activity, consumer payment behavior, and postal courier infrastructure. In a recent study conducted by Forrester's ForecastView team, we investigated 55 global economies to discern the readiness of each eCommerce market. The underlying quantitative framework captures 25 variables under four pillars: consumer behavior, merchant adoption, macroeconomic conditions, and the retail opportunity. The analysis is distilled in the Forrester Readiness Index: eCommerce (FRI).

So what did we find? While it is not really a revelation that economies like the US, China, Japan, South Korea, and the UK appear at the top of the rankings, a closer dig into developing nations revealed that Central European countries are also worthy of consideration. For example, Poland’s online buyer penetration is more than double that of Brazil’s. These Polish online shoppers are frequenting the same few online retailers (revealed in our online merchant clustering variable), indicating a need for more competition in the market. Poland has strong online penetration compared with the rest of Central Europe, and almost a third of mobile subscribers will access the mobile Internet by the end of 2013 — surely a promising formula for future growth. 

Enormous retail economies like China and Brazil often overshadow smaller nations looking to jump-start their online retail engines. Forrester's Readiness Index: eCommerce 360 review of the global landscape surfaces these opportunities and brings them into the light for closer examination.