September 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

New services ease the entry into international e-commerce, study says

The lure of international e-commerce has long conjured up images of an all-or-nothing approach with costly overseas-based infrastructure. Now more retailers are finding another way with minimal cost and risk, J.C. Williams Group says in a new report.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

The lure of international e-commerce has long conjured up images of an all-or-nothing approach requiring costly overseas-based infrastructure. Now more retailers are finding another way with minimal cost and risk, J.C. Williams Group says in a new report.

The report, “International E-commerce Expansion Benchmark Study,” notes that 53% of the largest e-commerce companies in the U.S., each with $100 million or more in annual revenue, are accepting international orders. But the report, while noting that international e-commerce is increasingly important amid a maturing U.S. market, also suggests that that many of these retailers provide a subpar online shopping experience to their foreign customers.

The study, which was released at the Shop.org Annual Summit this week in Las Vegas, was sponsored by Access Technology Solutions, a provider of international e-commerce technology and services; and Safety Pay Inc., a provider of international online payment technology and services.

Holding many retailers back in international e-commerce are company policies that view foreign markets as merely a source of incremental revenue-a status that leaves international strategies without the necessary resources or executive champions to build them out, the report says.

Nonetheless, recent developments in consumer demand and available technology and services are providing new incentives for U.S. e-retailers to grow internationally, the report says.

“Amazon, eBay and Dell are obvious leaders, however, a wave of pure-play, multichannel and global manufacturers are readying plans to drive renewed growth and extend their reach to foreign customers,” J.C. Williams says.

Jim Okamura, senior partner of J.C. Williams, says a growing number of retailers are realizing that they can effectively sell overseas by leveraging their existing U.S.-based infrastructure enhanced by third-party applications that support such features as foreign-language content on web pages along with international fulfillment and payment transactions.

“Retailers now have a middle-ground option that lowers their risk of engaging in international e-commerce,” Okamura says.

Some retailers are also using foreign markets to test new strategies, such as mobile commerce and social media marketing, before introducing them in their U.S. market, the report says.

In fact, the report notes, social networking and mobile commerce are core aspects of e-commerce in areas such as the Asia-Pacific region.

 

 

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