Loqate recently collaborated with Planet Retail RNG and Retail Week to produce the International Retail Index: The Definitive Guide to International Retail, in which we carefully analysed the top 30 international brands across the UK, US and Germany, and found several key similarities between them. One of the key factors that drives their success is their technological innovations, helping their customers experience a smooth, user friendly journey no matter where in the world they are based.
Of the top 4 international retailers in our index, 3 were British, showing the reach that UK retailers have globally, and the demand that is out there around the world. To help you get a better understanding of what is driving international success, we have analysed the top 4 UK retailers from the index to take an in depth look at what makes them continue to prosper on a global level.
Boohoo is ranked number one in the UK and number 2 overall in the Loqate International Retail Index. Founded in Manchester in 2006, the brand quickly became a huge hit with 16-30 year olds in the UK before successfully expanding globally for its wide range of fashion goods.
In early 2017, the Pure-play marketplace retailer Boohoo took a traditional strategy to expanding, acquiring fashion forward brand Nasty Gal. This enabled the company to span out across the USA and Australia, building new loyal customer bases in these countries.
Boohoo is one of only 13 retailers from the index to sell internationally from their website, delivering to over 200 markets, among those delivering to the highest number of overseas markets from their websites.
As a fast growing ‘new kid on the block’, Boohoo is a great example of how to utilise mobile platform for global success. 70% of its traffic is generated by mobile, which really reflects millennial brand appeal and the changing expectations of online shoppers.
Technological innovation continues to set forward thinking companies such as Boohoo apart from traditional bricks and mortar stores, and has paid dividend for Boohoo and its fellow new kids on the block - ASOS, Zalando and Hello Fresh - helping them elevate to the top end of our retail index. Leveraging technology has stood them in good stead when expanding internationally, and more traditional retailers are now looking to the likes of Boohoo to emulate them in order to grow globally.
Number 2 in the UK and number 3 across all regions in the Loqate Retail Index, ASOS has seen immense success over the past few years. Founded in 2000, the pure-play fashion retailer now sell to over 200 markets globally, including Australia, the USA, France, Germany, Spain, Russia and Italy.
ASOS, which sells 80,000 branded and own-brand products, ranks higher than the likes of Apple and UK retailer John Lewis, and is now synonymous amongst young adults with great fashion pieces at affordable prices, making it a globally appealing company.
Since starting out, the fashion retailer has continuously taken advantage of technology that optimises the user experience, allowing customers to enjoy a frictionless experience. This can mainly be seen through its use of international type-ahead address verification, enabling customers to quickly and easily enter their address details. ASOS is one of only three of the top 30 international retailers to offer international type-ahead address verification. This is also available on ASOS’s app, making the customer journey even easier for app users.
It can also be seen through the company’s strong fulfilment capabilities. ASOS too delivers to over 200 markets and territories, constantly looking to expand their reach to make delivery possible to customers around the world.
They have seen tremendous success through partnering with multi-carrier shipping platform Temando. This has enabled the retailer to provide hassle-free returns at no extra cost to shoppers, helping ASOS build a loyal and trusting relationship with its consumers. In an age when it has never been easier to buy in bulk, knowing that unwanted items can be returned without frustration is a huge plus for shoppers, particularly in ASOS’s target demographic.
ASOS also now offers a premium delivery service, very similar to Amazon Prime, in which shoppers are able to pay £9.95 to ensure they have unlimited next day delivery when they need it. Many companies are beginning to understand the importance of providing adequate shipping options, and ASOS has become an inspiration that many look to.
As with Boohoo, 70% of ASOS’s traffic arrives via mobile, which is something that the company recognises and places great emphasis on. Social media and digital media campaigns that perfectly represent their demographic are also carefully considered, extending their appeal to millennials internationally.
In the Loqate International Retail Index, Sports Direct was ranked number 3 in the UK and number 4 across the 3 regions. Established in 1982, the company has grown to become the largest sports-good retailer in the UK, with an enormous online presence and close to 700 physical stores around the world.
In the past few years, Sports Direct has heavily invested in digital platforms that aid global orders. For example, they have ensured that shoppers are easily able to switch language and currency, making the online experience much more natural and convenient.
The company has also implemented international address verification to allow shoppers globally to search for and enter their addresses in a much more intuitive way. When a shopper begins typing any part of an address, suggestions to autocomplete the address are immediately provided. It also detects where in the world shoppers are, finding the nearest matching addresses first, and returns a complete and accurate address even when when typos are entered.
To ensure the customer journey is always frictionless, Sports Direct has also implemented international delivery options into its app, supporting a seamless experience for overseas shoppers.
Sports Direct delivers to the highest number of overseas markets from its website. Offering standard, express, and next day delivery, as well as click and collect, the sportswear chain ensures that shoppers have all the options they need so that they can decide how soon they want their items.
Arcadia Group’s Topshop has been a go-to fashion house for young adults for over 5 decades. From humble beginnings in Sheffield, the retailer now has over 500 stores worldwide as well as online operations across the globe. Ranked as number 6 across all regions and number 4 in the UK, Topshop is certainly a brand that is moving with the digital times.
The fashion retailer has recently taken a step back in terms of physical store expansion in order to focus on its home territory. This is a reflection of the many challenges currently facing the retail sector, such as economic uncertainty, rapid technological changes and a continuing disruption caused by Amazon. However, its online presence still strong thanks to its great use of imagery and technological innovations.
As with Sports Direct, Topshop enables its shoppers to select language and currency, allowing them to feel like they are on a site based in their own country. This also combats frustration, confusion over payments and creates a much more comfortable and accessible experience for non-domestic shoppers.
Topshop ships to over 100 countries, so it is essential for the fashion company to capture clean and accurate address data in the checkout so as to avoid delivery issues and the high costs that occur as a consequence. In order to eliminate delivery issues caused by inaccurate data, Topshop has implemented international address verification. This also helps provide an optimised UX, allowing shoppers to speed through the checkout without friction.
With such a large global customer-base, retailers such as those in the Loqate International Retail Index cannot afford to be left behind. Technological innovation is a must that should be adopted with the customer at the front of mind. Providing a simple, frictionless UX allows shoppers to continue through the checkout to conversion, without the frustration that can occur if a site that isn’t focused on customer needs.
Each of the UK top 4 listed above uses technology to leverage their presence and customer base around the world, with the ability to switch language and currency and the use of international address verification being vital components to their global success.
To ensure your online store is as optimised as possible for both native and global shoppers, it is essential to provide an excellent UX and ensure that your global data is clean and accurate. To help you create an online store that will allow your shoppers to feel as though they are shopping on a native site, you’ll want to follow our handy checklist.