Editor’s note: Norbert Herzog is senior strategic insights manager at Nuremberg, Germany-based information technology and services firm GfK. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “The importance of localizing your global e-commerce strategy.” 

It’s time to rethink if your global e-commerce strategy on a local level. While one in every four U.S. dollars spent on technical consumer goods (TCG) today are for transactions made online, it’s not a consistent global story of expansion. The growth of online shopping has slowed in some markets, and where spend happens varies by country and region. E-commerce share ranges from almost zero to more than one-third of turnover. The perception of online retail also varies, from a premium destination driven by promotion to a mass-market channel offering value-for-money solutions.

In this article, I will discuss the regional differences in sales dynamics, pricing and assortment to evaluate the characteristics of e-commerce.

Where does the natural equilibrium between online and offline retail sit? There are already indications that growth is slowing in countries where online shopping is more mature. Globally in the first half of 2019, e-commerce increased to about 24% of total revenues (+1.6 percentage points), a flattening dynamic compared to past years, when almost three percentage points were gained annually.

However, the global view masks local nuances. China is leading the online retail sector with a share of 36%. In the Chinese and other advanced markets, there’s a blurring of online and traditional retail concepts. For instance, e-commerce players have been moving from pure online stores and integrating traditional shops into their retail ecosystem to reach customers regardless of channel. Many brick-and-mortar retailers have been adding e-commerce operations and technology to add digital experiences to the traditi...