The four international e-commerce markets below show that e-commerce potential lies in more emerging economies than just China and India—and that there is still compelling potential in mature economies like Italy.
South Korea is a mature e-commerce market backed by a strong currency, enthusiastic e-shoppers, high credit-card penetration and the highest broadband penetration—97%—worldwide (Gartner). With densely packed cities and an efficient postal system, delivery is swifter and cheaper than in most countries. South Koreans buy a wide range of products online, but the most popular e-commerce categories are cosmetics (with 68% buying in this category in 2013), clothing (50%), bookings/tickets (46%) and computing (31%) (Statista). The most popular imported goods, meanwhile, are computers, cameras, cosmetics, mobile phones, clothes, guitars, darts and dartboards, CDs, watches and cars (DutyCalculator.com).
Despite wider macroeconomic challenges, Italian e-commerce revenue grew 35% (CAGR) from 2008–2012 (PayVision). The leisure category, including sporting goods, accounted for 54% of 2013 e-commerce sales. E-commerce goods are limited in range compared to the UK or US, so there’s an opportunity to gain a strong foothold in poorly served niches.
Smartphone penetration is fairly high at 41% (Google: Our Mobile Planet), though it falls short of compared to countries like the US, UK and France. Half of Italian merchants invest in multi-channel marketing and offer alternative payment methods (PayVision).
Boasting the world’s fastest-growing internet-penetration rate (Internet Retailer), Mexico represents a lucrative e-commerce market. The number of online buyers is forecast to soar 114% by 2018 (Forrester). Heavy discounters are popular, but affluent buyers dominate (Forrester) so opportunities also abound in luxury goods too.
84% of e-shoppers complete their online purchase via PC, with 22% buying on mobile and 7% on tablet. But they often “start the path to purchase on a smartphone or tablet” (CIU report). 60% of customers using Gaudena.com, a Mexican apparel retailer, pay with cash. You must “have cash on delivery as a payment option,” believes Gaudena.com founder Roberto Rodarte. “These were new people who never bought from us before.”
It’s worth targeting young consumers too—the average age of Mexicans is only 28, compared to 42 in UK and 38 in the US (CIA World Factbook).
United Arab Emirates
The value of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) e-commerce industry is projected to quadruple from €1.96 billion to €7.83 billion by 2018 (Frost & Sullivan). “It’s a matter of time, and the initiative to transform Dubai into a smart government and smart city will definitely accelerate e-commerce,” says Sarwant Singh, senior partner at the research firm.
Early market entrants can benefit as internet connectivity soars. There was a 30% increase in broadband subscriptions from January 2011 to November 2013, and Mohammed Al-Ghanim, director general of the UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority, proclaimed a bold ambition to soon achieve 100% broadband penetration. At 78%, smartphone penetration is comparatively high, too (Nielson).
Zero income-tax rates across the Emirates fuels soaring consumer spending— €162 billion this year, up 7% on 2013 (Euromonitor)—in this shopping-mad country. The country also boasts a large luxury-goods market with consumer electronics, computers and jewellery particularly popular (Ystats report).
Unconstrained by physical retail premises, e-commerce sites can more easily access overseas markets than traditional retailers—this makes these markets are very accessible, especially with the help of Landmark Global.