Key Lessons to Think About Before Going Global

Jan 15, 2014 1:29 PM  By

The idea of expanding globally isn’t a new concept among merchants, but it is a concept that has many thinking about how to go about doing so.

Are you planning to expand your online or physical footprint globally?  When should you do it and why?  There are lessons that can be learned to ensure a successful expansion into the overseas market.

Jim Fielding, CEO of Claire’s Stores, posed several questions that merchants will want to think about before they expand globally during the keynote session at the NRF Big Show 2014 on Tuesday.

Internally, merchants will want to make sure they have met their objectives in their home market and whether their core competencies are compatible before making the move.

“Expanding globally takes extreme consideration,” said Fielding.

Fielding asked the audience to think about whether they have the available resources to devote to the project and whether they have the patience and high risk tolerance to move overseas.

Internal factors aren’t the only factors to consider if you are thinking about going global with your business; there are external factors to consider as well.

For example, do you have consumer demand for the brand where you plan to expand globally? Have you determined the size and growth of the market?

Merchants will want to consider a few other factors with the global expansion – as a merchant have you investigated the competitive landscape and how will you differentiate yourself from your competitors?  Do you have an adaptable business model?

Fielding also discussed some keys to success and lessons learned during the keynote.

Fielding told the audience to make sure they do their research and think “glocal” (global+ local) which means that in order to be successful globally, you will also have to think of each local market.

Blend expertise with brand experts.  Make sure you stay flexible and pick the right partners to work with if they are planning on expanding.

When planning the global expansion, think both digitally and physically for your business, according to Fielding. You will also want to expect he unexpected.

Claire’s Stores is currently in 45 countries and has two brands, Icing and Claire’s.   “We are globally successful and continue to expand the global reach,” said Fielding.

Zita Cassizzi, chief digital officer at TOMS Stores, offered five key lessons during the keynote about thinking globally from a digital perspective.


  1. Know your customer – Make it personalized and tailor messaging to your global market. Be  present at all digital touch points.
  2. Build a cross-functional plan so you can collaborate the expansion.
  3. Test, measure, learn, refine and repeat.  Cassizzi told the audience to focus on the speed into the market.
  4. Communicate – Create a plan to create a new media channel.  Merchants must have local, relevant messaging to all.
  5. It’s all about the people – It requires a committed group of people to develop an ecommerce operation.

“You have to run this as an integrated cross-channel initiative,” said Cassizzi.