April 04, 2019 2 min read

To begin with, globalization does not necessarily require a global presence. Online shoppers are increasingly looking outside their country's borders for purchases. In fact, during a six-month evaluation, foreign purchases were the majority on all but one continent: North America.

Data via Nielsen

None of that requires multiple stores for each location or international fulfillment and warehousing setup. One of the easiest ways to start testing foreign markets is to prioritize online advertising or social media abroad. This requires an international approach to Google Ads, Product Ads, Facebook, and Instagram through geotargeting.

Women's Best's presence on Instagram is a perfect example. The brand has created several country and language specific accounts with only minor differences in the actual content. The cost of launching geographic accounts, regardless of the platform, is minimal.

Promote social content and online advertising in other countries, even if all you do is track engagement rather than sales, test the feasibility. But perhaps the best strategy is to experiment with markets in target regions, where 60% of global online sales now take place.

International growth reshapes the map. Global numbers aside, regional e-commerce markets are classified as follows:

  • Asia: $831.7 billion
  • North America: $552.6 billion
  • Europe: $346.5 billion
  • Australia: $18.6 billion
  • Africa and the Middle East: $18.6 billion
  • South America: $17.7 billion

Looking at those same figures across country lines reveals that the 10 largest e-commerce markets in the world currently are:

Of course, what really matters is not where we are but where we are going. Using 2023 projections, a slight reordering appears, as well as a prominent leader: China.

Given the increasingly borderless state of commerce, it is far from surprising that the United States' share of global sales is declining. What many companies don't consider is how rapid this decline really is. Where the US once held e-commerce supremacy, next year its share is expected to be 16.9% (down from nearly a quarter on 2015). The same is true throughout North America and Europe.

Author: Aaron Orendorff,

About the Author: Formerly Shopify Plus Editor-in-Chief Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent, a strategic agency that "saves the world from bad content." Named by Forbes as one of the top 10 B2B content marketers, his work has been featured in Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, Inc., Success Magazine, The Next Web, Content Marketing Institute and more.