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How to Globally Expand Your Fashion eCommerce Business?

Profile picture of Nedina Gjorgjieva
Nedina Gjorgjieva
2nd July, 2024
10 minutes

As your brand grows domestically, the natural progression is to tap into the vast potential of international markets. 

But before you pack your collections and showcase them on the global stage, it’s essential to master the basics of international commerce. 

With over 300 million companies reported to be operating worldwide, competition is fierce, and standing out in the global marketplace requires not just quality products but also strategic planning and local market insights.

Understanding your target market, setting up efficient logistics for shipping and handling, and tailoring payment options to various regions are just the starting points. 

These foundational steps are critical in crafting a strategy that respects local preferences and customer shopping behaviors, ensuring your business is as successful as the products you offer. 

Let's get into how you can effectively expand your fashion eCommerce store globally.

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What is a global expansion of eCommerce?

A global expansion of eCommerce means extending your business operations beyond your local borders to international markets. 

For any fashion eCommerce business, this means a chance to scale significantly, tapping into markets that offer varied seasonal demands and consumer preferences, thus maximizing sales potential across different geographies.

What are the benefits of globally expanding your fashion store?

Taking your fashion store global offers a number of enticing benefits that can dramatically transform your business landscape. 

Here’s what venturing into international markets can do for your online fashion store:

  • Increased revenue potential: The most apparent benefit is the significant expansion of your market size. By reaching customers across various countries, you can tap into new revenue streams that were previously inaccessible, potentially multiplying your sales figures.
  • Diversification of market risk: Operating in multiple markets can buffer your business against economic downturns or seasonal fluctuations that may affect one specific region. If sales dip in one area, another might be thriving, stabilizing your overall business performance.
  • Brand recognition and prestige: Establishing a presence in international markets enhances your brand’s visibility and reputation. Being a global brand can elevate your company’s profile, attracting not just more customers but also better business partnerships and investment opportunities.
  • Access to new trends and insights: Different regions offer unique eCommerce fashion trends and consumer preferences. Operating globally allows you to glean insights from diverse markets, which can inspire innovation and creativity in your product lines.

Best strategies to globally expand your fashion eCommerce business

Research international markets

No one should think about expanding their fashion eCommerce business without conducting some research upfront. 

To find the best market for your business, you need to find out how much people spend by region and what are their shopping habits.

Here’s a step-by-step approach to understanding potential markets thoroughly by leveraging both cultural insights and statistical data:

Use Google Search Console

Begin by identifying where your existing customers are located. Access your Google Search Console, navigate to the ‘Performance’ section, and apply the filter to view data from the last 12 months. 

Switch the display from ‘Queries’ to ‘Countries’ to see a breakdown of user engagement by country. This initial data provides insights into where your store is currently attracting attention and where potential for growth exists.

Explore with Google Trends

Dive deeper with Google Trends to find out what’s currently capturing interest in these regions. 

This tool allows you to track trending topics, read popular stories, and analyze frequently searched keywords globally or within specific markets. 

You can even check which keywords are most browsed in the past 24 hours.

Cultural and economic insights

Understanding the cultural context and spending habits of potential markets is crucial. Research the following:

  • average expenditure on fashion
  • prevalent shopping habits
  • Shopping preferences in each region. 

This information can help tailor your marketing messages and product selections to meet the unique needs and preferences of each market.

Assess market size and internet penetration

Evaluate the market size by considering the percentage of internet users and their engagement with online shopping in the targeted country.

This will help you estimate the potential customer base and their readiness to engage with online stores.

Check legal compliances

Each country has its own set of laws that govern eCommerce activities, including consumer rights, data protection, import taxes, and customs duties. 

Here’s how you can navigate these legal waters:

  1. Research local laws: Start by researching the specific legal requirements for eCommerce in each target market. This may include consumer protection laws that dictate return policies and warranty terms, as well as data privacy laws like GDPR in Europe.
  2. Consult legal experts: It’s wise to consult with legal experts in each country. They can provide insights into local regulations and help you avoid costly legal mistakes.
  3. Adapt your policies: Tailor your terms of service, privacy policy, and return policy to align with local laws. This adaptation not only protects you legally but also builds trust with local customers.
  4. Handle taxes and duties: Understand the tax obligations and customs duties in each market. Some countries require you to collect value-added tax (VAT) or sales tax on each sale, and you might need to register for a local tax number.

Adapt payment methods

Another thing important to perform research about is local buyers’ preferred payment options by country. 

For instance, in the Netherlands, almost half of the population uses debit cards for online payments (Pay). On the other hand, German online buyers prefer to pay via electronic invoice, PayPal, or credit card (eCommerce Germany News).

Once you identify the preferred payment gateways in your target markets, integrate these options into your eCommerce platform. This might involve setting up new payment gateways that are commonly used in these regions.

Make sure to opt for internationally recognized payment providers. Popular choices include PayPal, Stripe, and Square. These platforms are not only trusted by consumers but also offer protection against fraud, ensuring that transactions are safe.

Optimize shipping policy

Optimizing your shipping strategy helps keep customers happy and encourages repeat business, making it a critical component of global expansion.

Collaborate with suppliers that partner with trusted logistics providers known for their global reach and reliability. Consider offering expedited shipping options as well to meet customer expectations for quick delivery.

When running a clothing dropshipping business, make sure your supplier ships worldwide and in record time, too. Even if they charge more than usual, customers should never wait. 

Build an international marketing strategy

When entering new international markets, you can’t rely on a generic marketing plan. Each country has its own distinct characteristics, culture, and consumer preferences. 

Here are the most important marketing strategies you should take into consideration:

Language localization

When starting an eCommerce business, it comes naturally for the target language to be English. But, when thinking about expanding to international eCommerce, that’s the one thing you shouldn’t overlook – language localization

In other words, if you are thinking about expanding to European countries, you should keep in mind that people prefer navigating the Internet in their native language. In fact, numerous countries, including Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, would greatly appreciate it if you offered them the opportunity to shop using their native language. 

Strengthen local SEO

How will you generate more traffic, and hit higher positions in search engines when expanding to the new markets? The answer is local SEO optimization

  • Perform targeted keyword research: Start by identifying the key phrases and terms that potential customers in your target markets are using. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush offer features that allow you to filter keyword searches by language and location, providing insights into local search trends and competition levels.
  • Optimize for local searches: Customize your website content, meta descriptions, and product descriptions to include local keywords. This practice helps search engines recognize your site as relevant to users in specific regions.
  • Create location-specific content: Develop blog posts, articles, and guides that address the interests and needs of your target market. For instance, if winter clothing is popular in a particular area, tailor your content to highlight your collection of winter apparel and how it suits the local climate and fashion trends.
  • Leverage local reviews and ratings: Encourage customers from different regions to leave reviews on your site. Local reviews not only enhance credibility but also contribute to your SEO efforts by generating fresh, region-specific content on your pages.
global expansion ecommerce

Find local influencers

Another good idea for hitting the international eCommerce landscape would be to find local influencers. You can either browse them by hashtags or use influencer platforms such as to find them directly. 

global expansion ecommerce

When hiring local influencers, before putting down a decision, get to know your options: locate as many of them as you can, contact each one for pricing, and then decide based on each influencer’s fan base, audience reach, and recent performance.

global expansion ecommerce

What mistakes to avoid when globally expanding your business? 

When embarking on the global expansion of your fashion eCommerce business, certain pitfalls can hinder your progress and impact your success negatively. 

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure a smoother international journey:

  • Ignoring local market trends: Each market has unique consumer behaviors and preferences. Failing to research and adapt to these local nuances can result in products that don’t resonate with the audience.
  • Underestimating cultural differences: Cultural sensitivity is crucial. What works in one country might be inappropriate or unappealing in another. Ensure your marketing and product offerings are tailored to respect and appeal to local customs and tastes.
  • Overlooking legal requirements: Each country has its own set of regulations and legal requirements for businesses. Overlooking these can lead to fines, blocked shipments, or other legal troubles.
  • Poorly managed logistics: Efficient logistics are the backbone of any successful international operation. Inadequate planning for shipping, handling, and returns can lead to high costs and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Inadequate customer support: Providing customer support in only one language, or not adjusting support hours to accommodate different time zones, can frustrate international customers and damage your brand’s reputation.

Real-life examples of global eCommerce fashion stores

When looking at purely eCommerce fashion brands that have successfully gone global without physical storefronts, several notable examples come to mind. 

First, there’s Mytheresa, a Germany-based online fashion retailer that has expanded internationally by targeting fashion-forward audiences with luxury apparel. 

global expansion ecommerce

Another example is SSENSE, a Canadian multi-brand retailer known who has successfully leveraged a user-friendly online platform to cater to a global audience.

global expansion ecommerce

Finally, Cettire is another designer apparel and accessories store founded in Australia, focusing on high-end brands and exclusive online availability, ensuring that customers from various international markets have access to the latest fashion trends without geographical limitations.

global expansion ecommerce

Embracing the opportunity of global expansion in fashion eCommerce

The advantages of global expansion are substantial, including access to new markets, expanded brand visibility, and diversified revenue streams, which enhance business resilience. 

However, this expansion comes with its challenges, necessitating agility and the ability to adapt swiftly. 

Continuously adapting to each unique market is crucial—enter with an open mind and be ready for both obstacles and successes. 

By fully committing to this journey, your fashion business has the potential to flourish globally.

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