Many European retailers are planning to expand internationally within the next two years, seeing the UK and continental Europe as their best commercial opportunities, according to a market survey by cloud-based e-commerce solutions firm, ChannelAdvisor. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey, conducted at the Catalyst Europe 2013 e-commerce conference, also found that 17% of European retailers are anticipating expansion into Asia within the next two years (in addition to 17% that are already selling into Asia), compared with 21% who expect to expand into North America (in addition to 34% that already sell into North America). It is also expected that a further 13% of European retailers will expand to South America in the next two years, increasing from the 23% who currently operate in this region today.

However, these retailers are not overlooking the UK and European e-commerce markets. Those surveyed are already very active in these 'home' regions, with 91% being active in the UK and 71% being active in other European countries.

The results are in line with other data published by Forrester, which found that 8% - 10% of online sales in the UK are cross-border. The IMRG has also reported that cross-border sales in Europe are set to reach some €36 billion in 2013, while e-commerce sales in Asia-Pacific grew by more than 33% to US$332 billion in 2012.

"It is very positive to see that retailers have not simply adopted a 'one-size-fits all' approach to international expansion, and are instead weighing up their options for cross-border trade," said Zoe Ripley, marketing director (EMEA) for ChannelAdvisor. "A substantial percentage are already centring their e-commerce activity on the UK, Europe, Asia and North and South America, with more being expected to venture into these markets in coming years."

According to Ripley the home market opportunity is significant, although retailers should be aware of all the options and opportunities before expanding. For example, testing the brand's offering through existing marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon can provide a convenient and economical way to make the first step toward cross-border trading.