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.

For most online merchants, it's not a question of whether to sell internationally, but how to go about it. The potential that international markets represent for online merchants large and small is simply too big to pass up. The dramatic increase in potential customer base, the far higher growth rates for e-commerce in nations outside the U.S., and the value of geographic diversification cannot be understated.

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.

The internet has flattened competition for retailers, big and small, and that means you have to build a personal connection with each shopper rather than compete for their wallets based on price. As competition in e-commerce continues to grow, global marketing campaigns have to become more tactical and focused. Here's how retailers can do that:

In just a few short hours, China will begin celebrating its largest shopping day of the year: Singles Day. Adopted five years ago as an anti-Valentine's Day marketing stunt by Alibaba, the quirky holiday has taken on a life of it's own. Last year, Singles Day brought in a record 35 billion yuan ($5.8 billion U.S.) for Alibaba alone, and a reported 50 billion yuan total. In comparison, Singles Day sold more than twice the gross merchandise volume of all U.S. sales during last year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. And now that Alibaba has reported a successful first quarter after going public, analysts are predicting sales for this years Singles Day will be even bigger.

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