International success today begins online. In fact, retailers in the UK have harnessed online movements so successfully that we now have the largest export economy for commerce in the world according to The same study found that traders that export overseas also have a 59% faster growth rate than those who don’t operate internationally, emphasising the advantage that establishing an international presence has for businesses.

However, maintaining a brand internationally whilst catering to different markets can prove challenging. At worst, investing in an ill-planned campaign can set you back in the market, so it’s crucial that retailers have the tools in their arsenal to help them expand abroad effectively.

Below are some of the dos and don’ts for UK businesses when pursuing international expansion:

1. Don’t underestimate the power of being British

British brands currently have a big following amongst international audiences. So in the current retail climate, simply being a UK based company can be an advantage. If used correctly, widespread desirability can create a strong foundation for demand, and therefore a leg up in the international retail environment.

Although it may seem a modest advantage, the speed and efficiency of the British postal system are important factors when creating a positive brand reputation worldwide. In comparison to other countries such as Australia, international delivery from the UK can be quicker than when sent internally within the country. Quick delivery of products gives British brands a lead in establishing a positive retailer-consumer relationship.

There is also a big pool of technological ability based in the UK, which gives our companies the opportunity to harness home-grown talent to provide innovative customer experiences within the UK retail sector. Technologies like Wirewax for instance allow brands to implement shoppable tags into the video content on their website, creating an interactive media experience which is immersive and engaging for shoppers.

2. Do adapt your marketing campaigns

Using the right data, retailers can cater campaigns to respond to  trends amongst customers in specific regions. By understanding what will grab the attention of target audiences, retailers can ensure that their products are creatively sold through channels where they will be noticed. Retailers must tailor their marketing campaigns based on consumer shopping habits in that region.

Taking China as an example; consumers there typically use e mobile devices to make purchases, due in part to their well-established 4G network. This means that retailers wanting to succeed in China should look to the mobile channel for their marketing campaigns. By working with app and mobile publishers and investing in mobile-responsive creative, brands will be better equipped to reach these audiences.

Chinese shoppers also tend to have a high Average Order Value (AOV), so promoting more luxury and premium products in these markets is likely to create considerable revenue even with a small level of penetration.

3. Don’t go it alone; use the expertise around you

Expanding into new markets can seem daunting, but retailers don’t have to go it alone. To ensure successful marketing campaigns internationally they should look to work closely with experts who understand local publishers, target audiences and shopping habits in those new places.

These partners will be able to provide advice and ensure that any partnerships created with local publishers, who act as a destination shopping site for your brand’s target audience, are mutually beneficial. Brands must ensure that any site they partner with will not only help them to grow relationships with their target shoppers, but also echo their own brand values. For example, it would not be appropriate for men’s products to appear on a women’s style blog so it’s imperative your content is appearing on relevant sites. Working with partners is crucial, but they must be the right partner for your business.

To fully enhance the chances of successfully establishing an international presence, brands should be utilising everything available to us in the UK. By incorporating benefits like the postal system and technological innovation, alongside powerful local know-how of expert partners and region specific marketing campaigns, you should stand in good stead to successfully branch out globally. UK brands are set to take over the world as the retail sector develops its international expertise and the internet breaks down borders across countries.

Mark Haviland

Mark Haviland