With the global market for international e-commerce valued at $230 Billion in 2014, and predicted to surge to $1 Trillion by 2020, the business opportunity for online retailers has never been greater. International consumers are increasingly favoring shopping from the comfort of their own homes and this is even more appealing during the holiday period, as it avoids the big crowds and stress that Christmas shopping entails. Empowered by the supercomputer in their pocket, consumers are in control. With nearly every 18-54 year-old using a smartphone, it comes as no surprise that consumer expectations will reach new heights when it comes to shopping across channels and devices.
Research from Adobe’s Digital Index suggests this year’s festive season now represents 20% of worldwide online spending. With Christmas offering a massive amount of potential revenue for retailers, ambitious brands need to make sure they have the right processes in place to capitalize on the online opportunity – not just nationally, but globally.
International e-commerce promises a great deal of revenue potential for retailers as it offers brands an unprecedented ability to quickly grow businesses internationally, enabling them to offer their goods to customers in foreign markets. Commitment to delivering a seamless shopping experience, without the need for a physical presence, will be the driving force global online sales this Christmas.
The problem is, many retailers often struggle to match impressive homeland sales in international markets. This is due to various cross-border barriers to e-commerce such as high shipping rates, unknown import duties, inefficient returns, and difficulties supporting local currencies and payment methods. These issues take on new weight in the competitive Christmas climate where poor customer service will send shoppers elsewhere.
The following four considerations are a necessity:
- Have multiple shipping options at reasonable rates. Providing a simple and risk-free returns process is crucial for every customer, as it gives them confidence to buy online with you.
- Offer the local currency. There are few things more off-putting to online shoppers than the need to calculate the cost in their own currency while browsing, not to mention exchange rates.
- Always aim to put the customer’s mind at ease. Avoid any potential surprises for customers by being upfront about these transactional costs.
- In most cases, avoid translating your website content or building local sites. These tasks require high investment and usually generate low return. Therefore, hold off on any action until you have proven yourself within the new market(s).
The key rule of international trade is that, in order to be successful, customers must enjoy a great shopping experience regardless of their location. This is where the much-forgotten, often disregarded, user experience (UX) is paramount. To keep customers engaged, retailers need to make sure their e-commerce portal is simple, intuitive, safe, and seamless.
These are some important UX considerations for e-commerce:
- Seamless touchpoints: Many consumers now utilize several devices before completing a single purchase – for example a shopper might research offers on a phone and complete the transaction on a laptop when he or she gets home. Retailers that allow consumers to move seamlessly between devices will come out on top this year. Remember that a mobile first strategy is becoming a prerequisite for an e-commerce presence.
- What I want, when I want, and where I want it: To succeed, companies must have a complete view of stock at all times and offer services like click and collect, specified delivery times, and even delivery lockers. It is the consumer that dictates transaction channels and fulfillment.
- Personalization: When consumers share their location, preferences and device information, retailers must use them to deliver messages in a tailored, non-intrusive, and relevant way.
- The new service experience: Intelligent retailers see the value in extending their services far beyond the basics. Some brands are two-way conversation with consumers and digitally connecting with them to provide insights and/or help with items purchased. Businesses can take advantage of the chance to become the go-to solution for customers’ needs by going above and beyond what’s offered by the competition.
Brands cannot afford to ignore the cross-border e-commerce opportunity this Christmas. Achieving this doesn’t necessarily require massive time and resource investment in-house either; retailers can find a global partner to better service their needs and meet international sales expectations, increasing the ROI of going global.
Technology partners can support retailers in providing a seamless international e-commerce experience and offer customers the level of service that is essential in the competitive retail market. Without the assurance of a localized experience, accurate timings for delivery and transparency in total cost of sale, retailers will see their consumers abandon purchases or move to competitor sites in a matter of clicks.