Retail Internationalization: A 5-Step Guide to Conquering the Global Market with Style

Defining internationalization in retail and the 5 strategies that can help your brand exceed in a foreign market.

International signs

Here’s a sure-fire way to increase revenue: start selling abroad. Opening up your retail brand to international markets can bring in an entirely new customer base for your products while expanding your brand’s overall reach.

But before you start planning your grand entrance onto the world stage, let's talk internationalization. It's the process of adapting your products and services to suit the diverse needs of customers in different markets, and it's crucial for any ambitious retail brand with global aspirations.

The process of internationalization has a broad range. It can be as simple as having a language toggle on your website, say from English to Spanish or French (more on this later); to much bigger efforts like creating new products specific to the styles and sensibilities of another culture.

The Power of Internationalization

to drive revenue, customer loyalty, and brand awareness.


of customers prefer content in their language; even if it’s poor quality


of customers want product reviews in their language


of customers will not buy in other languages

And internationalization has been shown to be a powerful driver of revenue, customer loyalty, and brand awareness. A study by CSA Research showed that:

  • 65% prefer content in their language; even if it’s poor quality
  • 73% want product reviews in their language
  • 40% will not buy in other languages

You can see from these stats that even simple localization can help tremendously with your international business. With this in mind, let’s dive into our short guide to internationalization for retail brands.

1. Market Research: The Secret Ingredient to Global Success

Market research is like a treasure map, guiding you through the perilous waters of global expansion. It helps you identify the most promising markets, their unique cultural quirks, and the competition you'll face. By understanding what makes each market tick, you can tailor your offerings to local tastes and avoid those embarrassing faux pas that leave you red-faced in front of potential customers (like offering an all-beef menu in India—yikes!).

Take the Swedish furniture giant, IKEA, for example. They didn't become a household name by accident. They carefully researched each new market, adapting their products and showrooms to accommodate local preferences. And yes, they even serve different meatball recipes and dishes around the world!

2. Localization: Making Your Brand Feel Right at Home

Localization is like your brand's favorite outfit: it needs to fit just right for every occasion. This means translating labels, adjusting packaging to local regulations, and using culturally appropriate images and designs. The last thing your brand needs is to spark an international incident by using the wrong symbol or font!

Let's consider McDonald's. The fast-food behemoth knows a thing or two about localization. With menu items like the McArabia in the Middle East and the Teriyaki Burger in Japan, McDonald's has mastered the art of making its food feel familiar to customers in every corner of the globe.

3. Developing a Global Strategy: Your Retail Brand's Passport to the World

Now that you've got the lay of the land, it's time to create a global strategy that outlines your objectives, target markets, and expansion timeline. This strategy is like your brand's GPS, guiding you through the twists and turns of internationalization. And remember, your strategy should be flexible enough to adapt as you learn more about your new markets. You never know when you'll need to make a detour.

A prime example of a successful global strategy is ZARA, the Spanish clothing retailer. They've managed to open stores in 96 countries by carefully studying each market, adapting their supply chain, and remaining nimble in their approach to global expansion. You can read a fascinating case study on ZARA’s international expansion here.

4. Building a Strong Online Presence: Digital Swagger for Your Retail Brand

In today's digital world, an eye-catching, multilingual website is your brand's digital storefront. Don't skimp on this essential asset. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO) and targeted digital marketing campaigns to boost your global visibility. After all, what's the point of conquering the world if nobody knows you exist?

ASOS, the British online fashion retailer, is a shining example of a strong online presence. They've managed to reach customers in 196 countries by offering a user-friendly, localized website with a wide range of delivery options. They’re a great example of a brand that understands international ecommerce, working efficiently to lower the digital barrier of entry for customers in every country.

5. Adapting Pricing and Distribution Strategies: Transacting in Every Currency

When it comes to pricing, one size definitely does not fit all. You need to determine the right pricing strategy for each market, taking into account local economic conditions, competition, and customer expectations. And while you're at it, make sure your distribution channels are efficient and cost-effective, so your products can reach your customers on time and without breaking the bank.

Apple, the tech titan, excels at this. They tweak their pricing strategy to align with local purchasing power, ensuring that their products are accessible to customers across the globe. For example, the iPhone 13 was $829 in the US but over $1440 (US dollars) in Brazil! Due to national taxes, local currency fluctuations, and other factors; Apple found that this is the price point that works for them in this particular country.

6. Offering Localized Customer Support: Making Your Customers Feel Heard in Any Language

What good is a global retail brand if your customers can't understand you? Offering customer support in the local language is a must, and don't forget to adapt your support channels to meet the preferences of your target audience. Whether it's live chat, phone support, or social media assistance, your customers should always feel like they can reach you when they need to.

In fact, Endear customers can now clientele in multiple languages (English, French, Spanish), offering a great, localized experience to specific customer segments. We know the urgent push to offer your brand’s products across the globe, and this is just the start of helping retailers cater to different countries beyond messaging over WhatsApp.

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