How Technology Can Reduce the Cost of International Expansion


According to Forrester, cross-border purchases will surpass national transactions by 17% by 2022. There is little doubt that all online retailers should make investing in cross-border sales and international development a priority. But you need wood to build a fire: international expansion is expensive.

Logistics, translation, advertising, legal costs…every area of a business is affected, and each needs a budget to contribute effectively to business expansion outside of their national borders.

To optimise the cost of international expansion, you can (and you should!) use technology to help. A quick overview of some ways to reduce costs.

1 – Limit transport costs

Transport costs are a well-known sensitive subject for online retailers who want to expand into new markets; they represent a substantial budget (sometimes more than 10% of sales revenue). Costs vary wildly and this has a direct impact on margins for online retailers. There are several solutions currently available and more in the pipeline that aim to simplify the logistical chain and reduce the costs linked to transporting merchandise.

Chronotruck: the Uber of European road transport

Chronotruck’s promise is simple and attractive: save 10 to 70% on palette transportation costs. This start-up uses real-time geolocalisation of hauliers, and puts them in direct contact with consignors looking for a delivery solution near their location. What is more it all happens online, in just a few simple clicks.

For online retailers, this can drastically reduce transport costs both in France and internationally. Even better, this solution also offers a significant benefit for hauliers, as lorries are less likely to be travelling empty.


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Independent lorries: the future of shipping?

Road transport is still used for the vast majority of merchandise deliveries. But it still poses problems: firstly, the amount of energy used isn’t good for the environment or the online retailer’s wallet. There is also a significant human cost for hauliers, which has a direct impact on retailers’ transport budgets and then on the cost of international expansion as a whole.

The use of artificial intelligence in the transport sector logically leads towards a single solution: independent, electric lorries. This will save on energy costs and it also combats the issue of how many hours a day or week a chauffeur can work. According to a study by PWC at the end of 2016, independent lorries could save hauliers 5% between now and 2020 and 30% between now and 2030. Tesla, Daimler and Google are just a few of the major companies showing an interest in this solution.

2 – Reducing your translation budget

We can never say it often enough: translation is an indispensable step for international retail expansion. 55% of consumers only buy on sites in their mother tongue, and what is more, the conversion rate increases to 70% when a site is correctly localised. However, like all jobs done well, good website localisation can quickly become a drain on your international expansion budget. Unless you work with a good company and use the right technology!

Translation memory: your best friend when it comes to translating your product catalogue

Translation memory is technology that stores segments of translated text to be re-used in future translations. Segments which have been translated previously are automatically proposed to the human translator.

Using a translation memory is particularly recommended for translating product sheets on online retail sites. It allows you to benefit from the numerous repetitions that this type of content tends to have, and so, considerably reduces the cost of international expansion (save up to 40% on your translation budget).

PEMT takes it even further

Post Editing Machine Translation (or PEMT) combines using a translation memory in real time, machine translation updates and human checks.

This means you make the most of inexpensive, powerful artificial intelligence and the expertise of human translators who read and adapt the pre-translated texts to make them intelligible.

3 – Optimise advertising costs

It is hard to get your company name out there in a new market without investing considerably in PR and advertising. TV campaigns, display ads, social ads, native advertising, retargeting…there are many different technology options for online retailers when it comes to optimising their advertising budget. Below are 2 tips to help you reduce your advertising costs and most importantly make your spending count, thereby reducing the cost of international expansion.

Improve the conversion rate of your e-commerce site

A/B Testing is a standard technique for online sales, and it’s even more important for companies wanting to sell in new markets who may not have a very detailed picture of their new target market. This technique is an easy way to tell which version of a page, advert or CTA is the most relevant and will have the best conversion rate. A/B Tasty, Kameleoon and Optimizely are the best performing A/B Testing solutions on the market.

Define your target market to increase your advertising ROI.

Who doesn’t use Google Adwords for online sales? The advertising platform from the US giant has an almost total monopoly in the display and remarketing advert sector. But Google Ads can quickly become very, very expensive.

To counter this, the French start-up Dolead has created a steering and automatic management tool for Adword campaigns (and Bing Ads) allowing you to quickly, automatically optimise your campaigns according to your objectives (CPC, CPA, ROI). In a similar way, the algorithms and predictive technologies in Pricing Assistant allow users to create campaigns which react in real time to your competitors prices, within your margins, to obtain a maximum ROI and reduce the cost of international expansion.

It is also worth considering Ad Exchanges in order to broadcast your ads in front of a particular audience with a higher likelihood of conversion to client. They use Real-Time-Bidding so you can define very specific target parameters. DoubleClick (Google), Microsoft Advertising Exchange (Microsoft) and Right Media (Yahoo!) offer these types of programmable marketing services.

4 – Circumventing regulatory risks cheaply

Naturally, a company expanding internationally will open itself up to various regulatory and legal risks. Current legislation and rules (customs law, export, data protection etc.) vary from country to country, so online retailers must be up to date. However, customs law is an extremely wide area…

The good news is that many companies are working on applying technology and artificial intelligence in the legal sector: known as LegalTech Below is a selection of the most interesting technology companies for online retailers looking to expand internationally on a limited budget:, LegalVision – online legal assistance

These online legal solutions have a simple aim: to take the weight of your legal formalities. Digital company start-up tools, document management, approval of accounts, debt collection rules and restraints, there are so many subjects an online retailer may not want to spend too much time or money on by involving specialist solicitor.

Supervizor: you best friend when it comes to auditing your accounts

From 1st January, tax auditing is automated in France This means that all companies must send their accounting files to the tax office digitally. And this doesn’t protect you from the responsibility for errors (format, content etc.).

So, firstly you’ll find yourself paying consultancy fees, and then you run the risk of your accounts being rejected, or they may need altering, and you’d have to pay a penalty, or in the worst case scenario you’d be liable to a prison sentence. Supervizor can help you to build accountancy software which complies with the standard, or to audit your current system (using their technology S-VIZ) to ensure it is complaint, respects accountancy rules and works with the tax office, tax declarations etc. All of this at minimal cost..

Call A Lawyer is a low cost legal service

20 minutes of telephone advice with a specialised solicitor = 20€. The concept of Call A Lawyer is simple to use and can be a real lifeline for an online retailer who needs an answer to a specific legal question without spending a fortune.


If you want to expand internationally, then you’ll face several challenges: optimising your global budget is one of them, and, as we have just discussed, there are several types of technology out there to assist you. Nevertheless, other challenges will also need your attention: accelerating your products’ time-to-market internationally and optimising the marketing impactof your overall efforts and multilingual content. It is only by balancing all these aspects that you’ll able to establish sales in new markets whilst maintaining control of budget, time scales and quality.

To find out more about translation technologies that can help you accelerate your time-to-market internationally, download our white pape!

Discover how technology can help you accelerate your international development

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