Research firm Forrester recently identified the international markets that offer the greatest eCommerce opportunities right now. We look at three surprise entries that might not be on your business radar …
While some business owners might think that exporting goods to an international market is best left to large businesses, exporting holds distinct advantages for SMBs. It’s an opportunity to gain global market share and exposure, both of which can lead to business growth. The knowledge you gain from exporting to international markets can also help you develop new products and marketing strategies that can help sales locally and internationally, plus it can lessen risk by making you less reliant on the domestic market.
If you also select less-obvious overseas markets, you can take a more targeted approach with your product selection and marketing. There’s a greater chance that you’ll be first to market with a product, or able to leverage the unique selling point of being an Australian business.
2014 eCommerce opportunities
Ready to look for export markets? According to Forrester, attributes such as consumer attitudes, willingness to use credit cards and debit cards and reliable infrastructure can all add up to eCommerce opportunities for savvy business leaders.
While the US and China topped Forrester’s list of eCommerce opportunities over the next three to five years in the 2013 Forrester Readiness Index, there were some surprise appearances in the top 10. We look at why three of these countries could be a good export market for your goods and which items are in high demand in these regions.
Top 10 countries in the Forrester Readiness Index, 2013
- South Korea
1. South Korea
Location: East Asia
Population: 50.2 million
Currency: South Korean won (KRW)
What’s the opportunity? Ranked fourth on the Forrester Readiness Index, South Korea is a mature eCommerce market. People are already comfortable shopping online, which means growth will come from customers exploring more categories online. Young South Koreans are tech aware, they have embraced mobile eCommerce and there’s a high number of credit and debit cards per capita, indicating a readiness to spend. Forrester estimates that, by 2018, South Korea will have around 30.9 million online buyers, spending the equivalent of AU$34 billion a year online – an increase of US$10 billion in four years. South Korea also topped the ICT Development Index in 2012 – which is a measure of the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and access. (For comparison, Australia ranked 11th.)
What’s popular in eCommerce? Mobile eCommerce is very popular, so designing a shopping experience that works well on smart phones is a must. Statistics Korea says that business-to-business sales made up 90 per cent of online sales in 2013, but business-to-consumer sales grew by 15 per cent last year. Fashion and accessories, household appliances and travel-related purchases are particularly popular.
2. The Netherlands
Population: 16.8 million
Currency: Euro (EUR)
What’s the opportunity? The Netherlands is another mature eCommerce market. According to Forrester, more than half the adult population shops online regularly. Forrester forecasts that in 2014,
10 million Dutch shoppers will spend EUR8 billion (AU$11.8 billion) online. The Netherlands also has good ICT infrastructure, ranking seventh in the 2012 ICT Development Index.
What’s popular in eCommerce? The Forrester research shows that books, holiday travel, tickets for events, clothing and consumer electronics are the most popular online purchases. According to Blauw Research in the Netherlands, the product category that experienced the greatest growth in 2013 was toys, up 27 per cent.
Location: Northern Europe
Population: 9.7 million
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
What’s the opportunity? Growth in adoption of eCommerce in Sweden is in double digits, as the country has improved eCommerce infrastructure (it ranked second behind South Korea in the 2012 ICT Development Index) and the Swedish population becomes more tech savvy. Approximately three in four Swedish households have ordered something online in the past year and almost three in four people shop online monthly. Forrester forecasts that six million Swedish shoppers will spend SEK55 billion (AU$8.9 billion) online this year.
What’s popular in eCommerce? According to a 2013 PostNord study, consumer electronics, books and media, clothing and footwear and furniture are all popular online purchases. The two categories that showed the strongest growth in 2013 were toys and cosmetics.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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