U.S. retailers interested in expanding internationally will be focusing mostly on the established economies of Europe—especially Germany—in the next several years, according to a new report. The study, from business services company Arvato, found 31 percent of those companies that expect to expand geographically in the next five years are targeting Germany. More than half expect that expansion to occur within two years.
The Benelux region (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), France and Italy were all identified by 23 percent of respondents as regions they expect to expand into. The U.K., the third-largest e-commerce market in the world, was tabbed for expansion by 16 percent of those polled. Most survey respondents already have a U.K. presence and are using the country as a jumping-off point to tackle the rest of Europe.
While the report noted that most companies are localizing their websites for the different international markets they enter from a language and currency perspective, local payment methods are also a must. Nearly all of those polled that operate in multiple international markets have localized for language (96 percent) and currency (92 percent). But, Only 73 percent said they have localized payment. Merchants must remember there are significant differences, even among European markets, in the way consumers prefer to pay. In Germany, for example, U.S. merchants that offer only credit cards as a payment method would suffer.
The study, Internationalizing Your Brand in 2017, also found that most companies are testing unfamiliar markets via marketplaces, rather than establishing their own sites from the outset. Marketplaces have become especially important in Germany, accounting for half of all e-commerce transactions in the country.