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.

Ensuring a responsive web store is no longer an option, but an essential element of a retailer's environment. It can be a simple process. As a very basic outline of the steps involved, retailers can begin with the following questions:

During a meeting with analysts Wednesday, Walgreens president Alex Gourlay ticked through a list of measures the company had taken since launching a cost-cutting initiative last year that has grown to $1.5 billion. The drug store chain, which is now known as Walgreens Boots Alliance after recently merging with a U.K. company, will be closing some 200 U.S. stores and reorganizing certain parts of its management. One move in particular is getting plenty of attention: Last November, the company froze salaries of its senior leadership, though it continued to hand out merit increases to rank-and-file employees.

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:

Retailers expanding into Canada would do well to focus on the customer experience. Offer superior merchandise that shoppers can't get at home and sweeten the pot with free shipping, especially during U.S. and Canadian holidays. With those investments, and an eye towards long-term growth, the road to the north will most certainly lead to checkout.

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.

Google has opened its first ever store, located in London, as an increasing number of digital companies are looking to get closer to their customers. The Google Shop will be based inside U.K. electronics retailer Currys PC World on London's Tottenham Court Road - a street packed with tech and gadget retailers and a short distance from Apple's U.K. flagship store.

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