Retailer expansion into Asia slows as the focus switches to multichannel reorganisation

By Chris Donnelly

According to the Accenture Globalization Index, which analyses Planet Retail data for nearly 500 of the largest global retailers and examines their entry into new markets, while the retailers entered 43 markets in the July 15 – October 15, 2012 quarter, that number fell to just 17 in the following quarter: October 16, 2012 – January 15, 2013. New-market entries include the opening of a new retail format – physical store or website, launch of a new country-specific website, acquisition of a company in a target market, creation of a joint venture or launch of a franchise in a target market.

Moves by retailers into the six key markets in “Emerging Asia” – China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand – fell significantly – from 13 out of the 43 new-market entries during the first quarter to just two in the second quarter. Accenture believes the drop indicates a retrenchment by retailers as they turned their attention from international expansion to multichannel reorganisation.

The operating model and supporting infrastructure required by retailers to meet their customers’ expectations for a seamless experience across all available channels is both time- and capital- intensive. These results suggest that retailers are focusing more on getting it right at home before exporting it internationally. Part of their effort to integrate the ecommerce experience into the main business may require a reorganisation of the roles and responsibilities of the company’s top management team, which may be reflected in the decline seen in international expansion as retailers turned their attention to strengthening their internal structure.

U.S. Remains an Attractive Market Despite the Competition

Big retailers made five market entries in the United States in the July 15 – October 15 quarter, an indication that the country remains a popular target for expansion. Additionally, U.S. retailers launched the highest number of overseas expansions – 14 out of a global total of 43 – in the July 15 – October 15 quarter, as well as in the October 16 – January 15 quarter, accounting for seven out of 17 expansions globally.

The United States is still the largest single marketplace in the world and, while it is incredibly competitive and overstored, it does have a long history of being the launch pad for new concepts. It continues to be an extremely attractive established market for retailers to enter, either as a location for a flagship opening or as part of a larger market-entry strategy.

Decline in Retailer Expansion into Brazil, Russia and India

Retailers were less focused on expansion into Brazil, Russia, and India in the first quarter. In fact, Brazil and Russia recorded just one new retail market entry each and India had no recorded retailer market entries. Market entries into Brazil did increase slightly, however, with three market entries recorded in the second quarter.

The timing of entry into a new market is crucial; too early and the market is not ready, too late and the competition is entrenched. These findings suggest that retailers are already eyeing the next big thing for international growth. Previously, Brazil, Russia and India were a greater focus for retailers seeking to expand into new markets. The experiences of the early retail entrants shed light on the challenges they faced and provided the next wave of entrants with more information about the risks and rewards.

Among the other highlights of the study:

• The most popular modes of market entry globally in the first quarter were organic growth – 17 of 43 market entries – followed by website launches with 13 market entries.

• During the second quarter, franchise expansion was the leading mode of market entry, with eight entries recorded. However, organic growth and website launches accounted for the vast majority of the other market entries during this period.

• Apparel retailers recorded 15 market entries in the first quarter of monitoring and also led the market entries in the second quarter, representing five of the 17 entries recorded.

• Of the entries recorded between July and October, 13 were conducted through physical store openings and two through website launches.

• The first-quarter entries spanned 12 countries in both mature and emerging markets: China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

• Grocery retailers made 12 market entries during the first quarter of monitoring, but accounted for only four of the 17 market entries during the second quarter. The first-quarter entries were noteworthy since the three ecommerce expansions by three of the largest global grocers were all made in emerging markets.

About the Research

The retailer universe identified by Accenture and Planet Retail encompasses the top retailers by grocery sales (retailers that achieved grocery banner sales in excess of US$ 1.5 billion in 2011 – currently 250 retailers) and the top retailers by non-food sales (not already included in the grocer list) – retailers that achieved non-food banner sales in excess of US$ 750 million in 2011, currently 239 retailers. A total of 489 retailers.

Globalization move definitions:

• The opening of a new format in a new country (irrespective of whether a company has a different format already trading in that particular country)

• The opening of a new country-specific website (even if the retailer has existing operations in that country)

• The acquisition of a company in a target market

• The creation of a joint venture in a target country

• The launch of a franchise operation in a target country

About the author and Accenture

Chris Donnelly is global managing director of Accenture’s Retail Practice.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012.

www.accenture.com

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