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Global Expansion: The Top 3 Considerations for Online Retailers

The Internet has made reaching a global audience easier than ever before. In theory, that is. In practice, succeeding in new markets presents unique challenges that many retailers are simply failing to meet. Exactly what are these challenges and how can they be addressed? And just why are the stakes so high?

Global Online Shopping Opportunities and Expectations

A recent Dyn survey reveals both the scale of the online retail opportunity and implications of not meeting consumer expectations.

  • More than 90 percent of global consumers make over a quarter of their purchases online.
  • More than two-thirds shop internationally, but less than one-in-five say the experience exceeds their expectations.
  • 60 percent say that if the international shopping experience was better they would do it more often.
  • A third of all consumers will abandon a website whose performance fails to meet their expectations. This number increases dramatically in the fastest growing international markets, such as India, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia, where 43 percent will do this.

There has been an exponential growth in consumers shopping internationally online, but it is not enough to just reach this global audience. Their expectations must be met if sales are going to result, and the challenge is to deliver consistent, quality Internet Performance.

Here are the three top considerations every online retailer must address if they are to convert international visitors into customers.

1/ Location, Location, Location

The location of your data centre and CDNs is a prime consideration when planning global expansion. But the question is what information do you have, apart from market information, to base your choice on?
The Internet is a constantly changing puzzle and you need a complete overview of how your choice of location will affect your business so you can avoid service interruptions, reduce costs, and deliver the best possible online experience.

As an example, if you want to provide service to all of the Asian region and you know you have to have latency below 200 msec, do you chose Singapore or Hong Kong as your hosting location?

The answer isn’t always as straight forward as picking the site that is geographically closest to the market you want to serve.

Dyn’s Internet Intelligence solution can provide you with the impartial, objective view of real-time and historic Internet conditions that you need to make the best decision for your customers and your business. Once you have made your choice, you need to monitor and analyse how the Internet, not just your own networks, affects your performance.

2/ Consistency

Consistency is about delivering the same great customer experience regardless of geographic location or device that is being used, and delivering this every day, and every minute of the day.

Slow is the new down time, but don’t take my word for it, here’s what your international customers say:

  • 85 percent still notice marked differences in their experience when shopping online and on their mobile devices.
  • Roughly the same number agree that the speed and quality of a website’s performance on any device affects their trust in that company.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all global consumers are not willing to wait more than three seconds for a website to load.

It’s not just about intelligence, it’s about ensuring excellent customer experience 24x7x365. There is no margin for error when it comes to Internet Performance as the implications of failure are huge. The delivery of your brand experience online has to be impeccable.

Retailers must ensure that their global customers have the same experience as their native customers. Managed DNS solutions help you ensure that you can connect your visitors to your websites and applications in the location best positioned to the fastest performance. Dyn delivers the fastest, most secure and reliable DNS available. Of course, those who connect fast convert better.

3/ Balancing, Balancing, Balancing

Consistency is across geography, device, and time. Retailers cannot afford to suffer crashes at times of high traffic. The recent experience seen in the UK and abroad as online retailers adopted Black Friday sales tactics saw many high profiles sites buckle under the weight of demand.

Cloud-based tools, such as Dyn’s Traffic Director, allow you to serve your online visitors across multiple endpoints offering you the flexibility to scale your infrastructure and work around unexpected outages. Each endpoint is continually monitored from the cloud so should one become unavailable, traffic will be directed elsewhere.

The result is maximum uptime and, just as critically, maximum performance.

The benefits of a cloud-based traffic management solution go beyond the implementation (no up-front equipment, configuration, installation, maintenance, or risk) and into the efficiency and optimisation of the service itself. Cloud-based global load balancing offers more flexibility to change configurations easily and quickly, broader global visibility, and more control over achieving a faster resolution.

Online Retail Expansion in China

Nowhere are the opportunities for retailers clearer, nor the challenges greater, than China.

  • Nearly one in five online users in the world are from China.
  • There are 302 million online shoppers in China.
  • These are the world’s most active online purchasers: the average Chinese consumer shops online 60% more frequently than their American counterpart.

Sources for these statistics and more useful information about the Chinese opportunity and challenge can be found here

It’s a staggering opportunity, but there are cultural and technical issues to online retail success in China.

This is what we found in our recent survey: consumers in China are the most likely to stop shopping if your website is slow (30.3 percent), and they are most likely—two to three times more likely than in most other countries—to head directly to a competitor’s site.

This is compounded by the latency and delays caused by the Great Firewall of China. Dyn’s China Network allows most requests to your website to stay within China giving you the performance you need to reach and convert this lucrative market.

From Consideration to Action

These very real problems merit more than consideration: they merit immediate action. The stakes are high, and getting higher, for online retailers. A global audience has never been easier to reach, or easier to lose.

Internet Performance is critical in all regions, on all devices and at all times if the promise of global expansion is to be realised. And if you don’t realise it, someone else will.


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Whois: Paul Heywood

Paul Heywood is the EMEA Director of Revenue at Dyn, the world leader in Internet performance solutions. Follow at Twitter: @Paul_Heywood and @Dyn.