Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Merchants have an increasing appetite for international expansion through their e-commerce channels. Late last year, Digital River commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 130 executives and decision-makers at branded manufacturers in the U.S. and U.K. We wanted to know more about how companies are thinking about international expansion. The results of the survey were clear: More than ever before, companies are focused on geographic expansion in new online markets, and they have aggressive expectations for speed to market and profitability. Here are a list of tips for companies that are on the brink of their first international expansion project:

To win, retailers have to accept that the online channel has transformed offline retail. By collecting valuable data from customers across multiple channels, retailers are given numerous opportunities to drive purchasing decisions wherever the customer prefers shopping. To obtain and use big data, retailers need to do the following:

Fast Retailing Co., Asia's biggest clothing chain, said two of its China-based suppliers are reducing working hours following a report that criticized the factories making its Uniqlo garments for labor abuses. Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. has cut the hours of factory workers. Pacific Textiles Ltd. gave them one holiday per week and will introduce a system to reduce hours while keeping up production volumes next month, Yamaguchi, Japan-based Fast Retailing said in a statement.

Madewell sells youthful products developed by its creator Mickey Drexler. Recently Pete Nordstrom, the merchandising head of his company, inked a pact to sell Madewell styles in Nordstrom stores starting on March 2. While the products are priced somewhat below Nordstrom's typical prices, the products resonate with the youthful Nordstrom customer, and that's key to Nordstrom's rationale to carry some of the assortment in its stores. Madewell is a division of J. Crew Group Inc. Its Chairman and CEO, Mickey Drexler, is a brilliant merchant — one the most innovative in retailing. 

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