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5 pointers for successful internationalisation in the digital age

Reference is often made to the fact that the world is both becoming more global, while at the same time getting smaller. This apparent contradiction is the result of greater connectivity in the digital age, which is allowing more consumers than ever to view, consume, share, interact, experience and engage beyond the boundaries of their own local or regional markets. As Bill Gates stated: “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”.

Retail is not immune from this digital globalisation. An increasing number of consumers want access to products and brands they see on the global stage, while advances in technology and related capabilities are allowing retailers to service these needs at an unprecedented scale. The rules of what it means for a retailer to be ‘international’ are therefore being rewritten.

For this reason, PlanetRetail RNG is delighted to partner with Loqate to showcase a new way of looking at internationalisation. Rather than focusing solely on traditional internationalisation metrics such as the number of stores a retailer operates in overseas markets, our ranking takes into account the changing world and looks into a range digital and omnichannel capabilities that provide ease, flexibility and confidence to international shoppers.

As a result, we recognise a new batch of digital-first retailer who have embedded internationalisation as an integral part of the strategy and subsequent success from the off – rather than a way to grow incremental sales once opportunities slow within their domestic markets.

To do this we used PlanetRetail RNG’s expertise of tracking leading retailers across over 200 markets globally combined with new research to measure each of their digital international capabilities in the priority markets of the US, UK and Germany.

This approach provides a strong representation of internationalisation in the digital age. As we’re keen for the index to evolve further, we’d be interested to hear your opinions in terms of what areas you believe are becoming important for international success. If you would like to see how your own operation would perform in the ranking, here are five pointers that can be implemented that would help to boost your position:


1. Making it easy for international shoppers

Offering the ability to easily select numerous languages and also currencies breaks down barriers for overseas customers, making them feel like valued core customers with access to the same products and experience as each other - rather than an afterthought.


2. Providing confidence and reducing risk

Many (but not all) retailers now offer address verification for online orders in their domestic market. But those really wanting to create a convenient and seamless experience for international shoppers are also investing in global address lookup systems. As well as a positive for shoppers, such technology helps mitigate loss and risk during fulfillment.


3. Leveraging a physical presence

Although the ranking looks at a new set of digital capabilities, it also recognises the value of retailers who have a physical presence in the market. Omnichannel retailers are increasingly looking to use their stores (or lockers) as ordering, fulfillment, returns and collection points – all of which provide greater confidence, flexibility, convenience and cost-savings for shoppers.


4. Providing transparency through tracking

Offering shoppers the ability to track their orders easily through their website or mobile app limits concern for international deliveries, especially when going cross-border. It also increases the value and return rate of shoppers coming back to your service.


5. Going mobile

With many developing markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa becoming mobile-first, having a strong mobile offer will be crucial in the future. The best international operators are able to provide localised apps using global platforms – providing shoppers in emerging markets with access to the same offer as in more developed markets in Europe and North America.


Guest blog by Robert Gregory, Planet Retail RNG.


Join Robert, along with a panel of experts from Retail Week and World Retail Congress at our webinar, in which we review the top 30 and what it takes to become an successful international retailer. 


Robert Gregory is a Global Research Director at PlanetRetail RNG with responsibility for identifying, tracking and analysing the shifts in the retail landscape and the reaction from the world’s leading retailers. Robert has been working in the retail industry for over 20 years having previously worked at Mintel and Retail Intelligence. During this time, Robert has focused on a wide spectrum of retail sectors and has researched how operators have expanded internationally in key regions such as Asia. Robert is particularly interested in how retailers are adapting to change in an extremely dynamic landscape and how they can maximise the opportunity created by the shifts towards digital, the latest innovations that bring the online and offline worlds together as well as their impact on bricks & mortar.

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