US E-Commerce Brands Continue Successful European Push

 
on March 07 2012 6:54 PM

Ecommerce is a burgeoning global industry on a very impressive scale, and it doesn't appear to be experiencing any slowing due to the economic recession. With Internet Retailer releasing its 2012 Top 400 Europe publication, it's clear to see the international nature of the industry. The landscape of the EU industry in particular and US e-retailers place in it is remarkable in two main ways. First, the number of successful companies making gains is impressive as 33 US companies ranked in the list of the top 400 retailers operating in the European market. More notable, however, is that US companies had collective sales of €20.2 billion ($26.1 billion) in 2011 growing from €15.9 billion ($20.6 billion) in 2010.

This is significant growth especially when considering they beat the growth experienced by European e-retailers in their own market. US companies accounted for 25% of 2011 sales for the Top 400 online retailers in Europe, up from 23.4% a year earlier. This suggests US companies are gaining more than just a foothold; they are thriving and not turning back, trying to gain as much market share as possible going forward.

US companies have enjoyed great sales in the past several years in the EU and their cases represent model successes in terms of growth from which other US companies expanding into international markets can be judged. This success and these figures beg the question: What can this growth be attributed to? The question leads you to consider the quality of the products, the services, and the business models themselves. It welcomes the direct comparison to their EU contributors as well.

However, perhaps more intriguing is how they were and still are able to succeed as an outside company doing business in a new international market, a subject I write on quite frequently. Is it inherently easier to enter a new country's market as an e-retailer rather than a company with a more traditional brick and mortar presence? It is true that internet retail could simply be an easier industry to expand internationally in; however, the successful transitions most probably were a result, at least in part, to companies' savvy understandings of the cultures they were heading into enabling them to cater to their audiences especially well. I have described the importance of such cultural considerations for international business and international SEO in separate pieces before.

Christine Bardwell, research manager of retail insights for research and consulting firm IDC also stresses the importance of this. In a piece profiled on Internet Retailer's website written by Research Director Mark Brohan, he quotes Bardwell: U.S. retailers will have to develop web strategies for most individual European countries for the foreseeable future and develop a local value proposition that tells shoppers they understand who they are. She continues, The mature e-commerce markets of the U.K., France and Germany are as different in nature from the growing, but far less developed e-commerce markets in Southern Europe.

The importance of evaluating your audience and context and then adapting per the cultural, language, political, and economic circumstances cannot be overstated. A separate yet obvious implication of the growth in US e-retailers succeeding in Europe is that more e-retailers from the US will be expanding overseas, and only more growth can be expected. This should encourage brands in the US to follow suite. This continued expansion provides an opportunity for SEO companies to provide international SEO services to optimize e-retailers' web presence specific to each new market they enter.  These SEO companies will be among the many keeping a watchful eye on the industry as it continues to evolve both at home and abroad. 

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com or through WebiMax's contact page if you have any questions regarding this subject and how out e-retailers can tuilize internet marketing to drive increased traffic for their businesses. 

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