As a member of the eBusiness team that looks at how eCommerce trends are evolving, I’m constantly talking about how global is an inevitable part of retailers’ futures. Knowing how to tackle global markets can be a challenge, but some options are making the process of tapping into international shoppers easier.

This week, my colleague Zia Daniell Wigder and I published a report for clients on how US online retailers can use cross-border shipping to reach global customers. Through our research, we found that it is not uncommon today for businesses of all sizes to use international shipping to reach new customers or for those interested in developing a long-term global strategy to test the waters with international shipping before entering a new market. The report details the flexibility of the different models available to retailers today and identifies some of the vendors in this space that can help.

Highlights from our research include:

  • English-speaking countries remain the top markets for cross-border orders. Vendors noted that the highest percentage of their clients’ shipments continue to go to English-speaking countries, most notably Canada, Australia, and the UK. This makes sense, given that most retailers do not translate their site for local markets, but interestingly, we also heard from a few retailers that there is new demand coming from smaller countries like Turkey.
  • Product selection is still a primary driver of cross-border purchases. The vendors and retailers we spoke with noted that product selection, not price, tended to be the main reason consumers shop cross-border. Some consumers sought out lower-cost options in other countries (even when shipping, duties, and taxes were factored in), but it was most common to hear about consumers who bought from overseas sites due to the availability of certain products.
  • A degree of localization is crucial. Unsurprisingly, we heard that providing even basic levels of localization for global markets can help retailers with sales. Initial localization efforts can be minimal — such as offering local currency pricing and payment options. Further steps that retailers are taking include translated landing pages and localized marketing campaigns. Showing some form of cultural consideration can go a long way in driving customer loyalty.