Global Marketing

International Retailing

Retailing, or the activities that involve selling commodities directly to consumers, has been around for centuries. People have made a living bartering, marketing, and selling their goods for a very long time, but there is great opportunity that presents itself to modern retailers that has not been available to the same retailers from the recent past. The global economic boom that has happened in the past few decades has allowed for trade and commerce to flourish and has resulted in a lot of capital creation. A large part of the boom can be attributed to something called “globalization,” which continues to be much of the reason why our international markets operate so efficiently. Amenities like plane travel and the internet have made international retailing much easier than it was in the past and has attracted more and more businesses into the mix. This has created a domino effect within the market, which does not show any signs of slowing down soon.

So who are these retailers that I am speaking of?… Well, they are many well known businesses that have become household names throughout the past few decades, including, but not limited to: Walmart, Gucci, GAP, IKEA, Lego, Carrefour and Tesco. Broadly speaking, almost all of the international retailers fall into two categories… Grocery retailers and fashion retailers.

The best example one can give about what an international grocery retailer is or does is through the exemplary operations of Walmart. Walmart operates in more than 25 different countries and under 56 different names, if you can believe that. It is the world's largest company by revenue, which totals more than $500 billion in revenue per annum. According to, international grocery retailers follow a multi brand and multi product business format which includes all products like food (fruits, veggies, juices), fashion and clothing (bed linens, multi gender clothing/apparel), branded consumables from other companies, liquor and a myriad of other goods. The most common countries for international grocery retailers to operate in have been those in North America and Europe, but globalization has made it possible to enter into other countries in Asia and even South America.

International fashion retailers include famous companies like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, and Swarovski. When these retailers embark on their business ventures, they often start in their host or domestic countries first, but then gradually understand that in order to compete on a global scale, they must take advantage of the opportunities present in international markets. What used to be a luxury for only the rich to enjoy is now available to people all around the world, regardless of their levels of disposable income.

As retailers move their businesses international, they need to consider four major issues.

  1. The culture of the people in that country. How will they respond or react to your products?
  2. The legal and regulatory barriers of entering into that host country.
  3. How prepared is your company for going international? Does it have the capital to do so?
  4. Do you have a team that will help you market in this unfamiliar country?


One reply on “International Retailing”

Very insightful Aaron and Harrison. I did not realize that Walmart operated in so many countries. Do you think that these companies also need to consider the supply chain/ distribution centers when going international? With an expansion, they would need to ensure that they can acquire the resources for their product and be able to get them to the country to sell.

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