September 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Overstock goes global

In a move to capitalize on the weak U.S. dollar, Overstock.com Inc. has begun selling to consumers in 34 countries outside the U.S. Consumers in Canada and 33 European can now order from the mass merchandise retailer.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

In a move to capitalize on the weak U.S. dollar Overstock.com Inc. has begun selling outside the U.S. to consumers in Canada, the UK and countries in the European Union. Consumers in 34 countries can now order from the mass merchandise retailer, and Overstock says it plans to expand to more countries over the next year.

International shoppers enter the same URL as domestic customers to shop on Overstock. The site uses geolocation technology to recognize where shoppers are coming from and then displays prices in their local currency. Prices automatically adjust to the most current exchange rates, Overstock says.

Overstock, No. 30 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, soft launched the international service Aug. 27, and that day received orders from 17 countries, Jake Bailey, Overstock.com’s director of international business, tells Internet Retailer.

Global shoppers can purchase over 600,000 products from the site, but there are some differences between domestic and international shopping, Bailey says. Overstock won’t ship items weighing more than 60 pounds internationally, nor will it deliver goods worth more than $2,500. Items of higher value require significant customs-related paperwork, Bailey says. Also, shipping rates are on a per-order basis, unlike the flat fee shipping rate of $2.95 that Overstock charges domestic consumers.

Bailey says Overstock began exploring international markets late last year by looking for global fulfillment vendors. It chose E4X for international fulfillment in the first quarter of this year, he says. Overstock’s internal development and quality control staff developed the back-end technology for the program, he says.

Overstock will promote the expansion with online advertising and marketing and with press tours to Canada and other countries by chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne.

"Many international markets are underserved by online retail," Byrne says. "With the weakness of the dollar the time has never been better for international customers to purchase American goods, creating a great opportunity for us."

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