Posted on October 15, 2014 by staff

Is Ecommerce An Option For Global Expansion?

Is Ecommerce An Option For Global Expansion?

With ecommerce sales around the world set to hit $1.5trillion, we ask four UK businesses about their online retail experiences.

By Lowri Williams

STEVEN O’NEILL, FOUNDER OF THE GROOMING CLINIC
If you think of your ecommerce platform as your international shop front, you are opening your business to the world and its entire digital footfall. The power of the internet should never be underestimated, and in business it is important to stay one step ahead of your customers.
As we all know, the internet and online trading has made the world, and all of its commodities and services, readily available. Global expansion for any business relies heavily on accessibility of information alongside convertible consumers. Ecommerce – although it shouldn’t be relied upon solely for extending your wares into foreign territories – is the single most powerful method of reaching a wider audience and generating increased revenue.
In the UK, we’re a nation of online shoppers, but other countries are just catching up. It’s therefore important to identify the shopping psychology of the customers you are trying to reach out to, and make sure that you cater for it as best as you possibly can. Looking at the global marketplace, the UK is a very small and sometimes limited territory, so if you are looking at making your commercial entity into a huge success, you have to open it up to a wider audience. Ecommerce has endless benefits, but it is also important to ensure that the behind-the-scenes operation is equally as well planned out.
For a retailer, providing that your offerings are suitable for the countries you are trying to access, ecommerce on a global scale is essential. However, for a manufacturer – whilst ecommerce is still incredibly important – there is a wider picture and a lot more planning to consider to ensure that your growth into foreign markets is a success. Every brand needs to have an online presence; if it doesn’t it will fade quickly into insignificance.
Starting your ecommerce store is the easy bit. Finding custom is the hardest!

ANNETTE CLOWES, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR OF LOOT.COM
Loot originally appeared as a newspaper in the buy-and-sell marketplace in 1985, and was the pioneer of classified advertising. Almost 30 years later, Loot is still the trusted brand it was back then, but we now connect buyers and sellers in a secure trading environment online, as well.
As the web became more accessible, it was a natural progression for us to migrate to the internet, and we did so in 1996. Ever since, we’ve been able to attract and serve new users. We’ve grown from there, to what we are today: a self-serve, interactive, online classified ads portal supported by regional print titles.
We’ve considered ourselves a global enterprise for many years; the majority of our customers live and trade in the UK, however, we have users from all over the world including Australia, South Africa, the United States and Asia.
Moving online allows Loot to connect buyers and sellers from any two points across the globe, at any time of day, any day of the year, and that’s an invaluable part of our service. Businesses and their customers can work together in a real time environment, and reach locations that wouldn’t normally be within their catchment area.
Ecommerce is mutually beneficial, for both business owners and end users; ecommerce enables businesses to interact more quickly with their clientele and deliver a more efficient service no matter the time difference between the two, while customers can get hold of things they wouldn’t be able to find on their local high street. It’s little wonder it’s so successful.
And as technology moves on, more and more people are accessing the internet through mobile phones and tablets. As a result, ecommerce is now a natural way of life. Whether you decide to go global or work solely within the UK, you should always find a simple, scalable model that works for both your business and your consumers, and keeps you ahead in the game.

ISOBEL STEWART, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE AT THE WREN PRESS
As a company whose values comes from its traditional heritage in bespoke, handcrafted products and its emphasis on superior client service, The Wren Press never previously felt the need to prioritise the ecommerce market. It’s not something that was originally compatible with a tangible and very tactile product.
Now, when we’re on the frontier of breaking into online retail, it’s proving an enlightening experience.
Given the positive feedback on our foray into online retail, and its value to bespoke companies like The Wren Press, it seems unlikely that any business wouldn’t profit from exploring the opportunities ecommerce offers.
In a world where everything is expected to be accessible at the gentle tap of a touch-screen button, and given that our ready-to-buy range is stocked around the world, it makes sense to tap into this huge opportunity.
Inevitably, ecommerce will never offer the same standard of service as traditional retail, but it’s certainly an appealing option to have available.
The Wren Press uses a wide range of local and international suppliers, many of whom operate online. The resources available to larger organisations undoubtedly aid global ecommerce, but that’s not to say that SMEs can’t also profit; smaller companies often have smaller production levels, margins and client bases, so considering this, SMEs should certainly be braver when approaching the global ecommerce market.
For The Wren Press, ecommerce and global markets offer the opportunity to endorse a recognisable brand around the world and the chance to prove that modern retail technology can be compatible with traditional craftsmanship and impeccable service.

CONRAD WARNACULA, HEAD OF MARKETING AT EAST END COSMETICS
Working in the retail and wholesale business for over 30 years, East End Cosmetics has always been conscious about the ever-changing face of the high street. We’ve always explored different channels to get closer to the customer, and it was in early 2009 that the company decided to expand into the online world.
Most of our competitors who are serving the wholesale and retail market on the high street had moved online by 2009, so we felt compelled to do the same or face the risk of being left behind. We also didn’t want to lose our valuable client base, built up over many years.
The transition to online can be a relatively daunting task as companies can struggle with the use of technology, customer service levels, logistics, stock management and product pricing. Having successfully branded and expanded the company on the high street without the need for an online presence, it was hard to suddenly restructure the team and to make sure everyone was prepared for the change.
However, looking back, we should’ve made the move earlier. It would’ve made better use of the company’s product line and, more importantly, would’ve built up the company’s online credibility which would result in us ranking higher in search engines today.
In the ever-changing ecommerce world, it’s important to be on top of all sales channels. The online market and the ecommerce industry’s success is mainly due to its ease of accessibility, convenience, large scale usage and growth of mobile devices. Our lifestyle and interactions are closely linked with online apps and services, and as a result the online industry is only set to benefit by an increasing number of individuals from different socio-economic groups and geographic locations logging on.
Companies who aren’t making use of this opportunity are missing out on a chance to make their brand globally known. Don’t be scared of doing it; be bold, make the change and you’ll see your success in time.