We're living in the age of 'always on'. Today, billions of consumers across the globe are connected to the internet whenever and wherever they go. This poses a huge opportunity for businesses that embrace the internet to reach and engage potential customers in overseas markets.

August 2014

A growing opportunity

There are currently 2.8 billion people online around the world. This may seem a lot, but it's only 39% of the global population1. Google's Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has predicted that the number of people around the world with access to the web will rise to 8 billion by 20202.

The 'borderless consumer'

Customers often don't know, and importantly, don't really care where a business is based as long as the product or service they receive is good. So when it comes to shopping online, if the buying experience is right, they're happy to continue purchasing from a business that's based abroad.

96% of people, for example, didn't know that Booking.com is from the Netherlands — and of these, 90% said this wouldn't affect the likelihood of buying from the company again3.

The digital opportunity is relevant across virtually all sectors. UK ecommerce exports for content, leisure, travel and retail are predicted to rise from £13 billion in 2013 to an expected £45 billion in 2020.

While this could pose a threat to businesses in terms of increased overseas competition, it also opens the doors to expansion into new markets and the opportunity to reach new customers.

Increasingly, new online businesses are being born with global expansion in their DNA. They're quick to grasp the opportunities that the web presents and use them to leap into new markets and expand at rates much quicker than we've seen before.

It no longer takes years for a business to go global. Airbnb took just one year to expand out of its domestic market. Amazon took three. Pretty quick when compared, for example, to Hilton and Walmart, who took 24 years and 32 years respectively4.

Unlock customers, globally

All businesses, whether they're big or small, old or new, now have a huge audience at their fingertips. Using a number of internet tools, they can now identify the best markets to enter and the best ways to market successfully to local customers — while reducing time, cost and logistics, and removing the need for a physical presence away from home.


Localisation is key

No two countries are the same. So being able to adapt your business to the behavioural characteristics of each market is essential. But how can you understand the complexities of all these markets, all around the world?

Well, there are lots of resources at hand, including the Google Export Business Map, to help you understand which tactics work best and where. It's now easy for businesses to find these opportunities and adapt and refine their campaigns accordingly.

For example, if you're looking at the Dutch market, we can tell you that 65% of consumers make purchases online5, 87% speak English6 and 67% don't leave their home without their smartphone7. While in France, if you want to raise awareness, display ads prove the best medium, while it's email in Germany and social media in the UK8.

More than just retail

Many businesses believe that global digital expansion isn't relevant to their sector. But the digital opportunity is relevant across virtually all sectors. In fact, UK ecommerce exports for content, leisure, travel and retail are predicted to rise from £13 billion in 2013 to an expected £45 billion in 20209.

The time to expand is now

It's never been easier to connect with potential customers around the world, and the internet has brought with it the ability to bring them right to your front door — whether they live in Chelmsford, California or China.

The web has broken down international trading barriers, and although every country has its different online shopping characteristics or nuances, there are ample tools available to learn and use them to your advantage.

Now is the time to expand and grow your business. Take a look at our overview for more details on how you can embrace ecommerce and launch successfully into new markets.

Use Google Tools Here

1. eMarketer, November 2013 ©
2. Eric Schmidt estimate ©
3. UK Google Consumer Surveys 2014 ©
4. Press Search, Company Websites, OC&C analysis ©
5. Connected Consumer Study, 2014 ©
6. European Commission, 2006 ©
7. Our Mobile Planet, 2013 ©
8. Customer Journey to Online Purchase, 2013 ©
9. Market Reports by Vertical, OC&C analysis©