Global e-commerce audiences are booming. According to eMarketer, online retail revenues grew 24% from 2015-2016 reaching $1.9 trillion, and are on course to hit $4 trillion in 2020 – accounting for 19% of all retail sales.

Reaching these audiences through performance marketing has never been easier. Costly and fiddly market-specific efforts have been replaced by the ability to run campaigns in multiple markets and currencies through a single gateway.

China is the primary driver of increasing e-commerce revenue for 2016, attributing 47% of all retail e-commerce sales worldwide, while Asia-Pacific remains the world’s largest retail e-commerce market with $1 trillion in sales last year. However, when it comes to designing a global affiliate campaign, these are the five markets you can use to wow your client and show off your international expertise.


Digital revenue grew by 18% in 2016, with two-thirds of Swedes buying online on a regular basis. This acceleration is unsurprising given that 94% of the country’s 8.7 million people are internet users. Sweden has also seen a drastic uptick in mobile users, attracted by improved mobile user experiences and streamlined payment methods. Recent data from CupoNation suggests that discount codes are a key element for retailer growth.


Digital marketing spend is on the rise in Slovakia, reaching $55 million, second only to television. Total e-commerce revenue across all product categories is projected to hit $1 billion by 2021 with the number of online shoppers increasing to 3.6 million. However, marketers should bear in mind that desktop remains the preferred method of checkout, where 90% of all transactions are completed, versus just 4% on mobile, due to small smartphone penetration in the country.


The largest population of online shoppers in Estonia is male, ranging in ages between 25-34, which provides a unique opportunity for marketers. Total e-commerce revenue is expected to nearly double by 2021, currently generating $242 million, with fashion as the leading vertical. Like Slovakia, 92% of consumers complete their e-commerce purchases on desktop versus mobile.


Recent altered government regulations have allowed for more foreign investment in e-commerce companies within the country. Resultantly, Tech Crunch is predicting e-commerce revenues to hit $130 billion by 2020. Much of that growth will come from the country’s growing mobile-first generation, which now sees 70% of traffic coming from mobile devices and tablets. According to a recent survey, 65% of purchasing decisions are controlled by women and most (80%) of those women prefer to buy cosmetics over food and clothing.

South Korea

Influencer marketing is thriving in South Korea with 15% of shoppers making a purchase after seeing the product on a social network, according to eMarketer. With the second highest percentage of retail e-commerce sales worldwide, the country has 99% web penetration and sees $37 billion in e-commerce sales annually.

Reaching these markets

While technology is making it easier than ever to target disparate and previously far-flung consumers, this complexity cannot always be navigated by more convoluted algorithms. An account manager should be a brand’s international travel guide, putting forward new market suggestions that fit client’s target audience and goals. Aspects such as shipping, exchange rates, taxes, content compliance, domain monitoring and search strategies all have to be considered and weighed up, and it’s up to account managers to do so.

The rapid global growth of performance marketing does present challenges, but with a nuanced approach to international strategy, you too can benefit from global e-commerce growth.