With Forrester expecting sales of $627 billion to be conducted through cross-border eCommerce in four years’ time, global retailers should be doing all they can to take a significant slice of market share. But what are the key things they need to know before embarking on a more international strategy, using eCommerce?
Partners and Options
Some 70% of consumers already make at least one cross-border purchase annually, according to a survey of 12,000 people and 1,200 retailers from eight countries by IDC Research and ORC International.
And as Michael Griffiths, vice president, global marketing, retail & eCommerce at Pitney Bowes, says: “The choice of partner couldn’t be more important” when expanding horizons to new territories. He suggests “the opportunity it too big and the stakes are too high” to be careless when choosing global distribution partners – so retailers should assess the market thoroughly.
Some retailers and brands will use third-party logistics providers to get goods from A to B cross border, some will opt for drop-shipping companies, while others will fulfil to their customers from their local stores, activated by a central system. Retailers need to do the maths to work out the best option for their operation.
How the Market is Changing
Cross-border shoppers are becoming more sophisticated and confident in ordering from foreign territories, and emerging markets identified by Forrester such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are among those adopting cross-border eCommerce. Asia Pacific, driven by China, is said to be the largest cross-border eCommerce region for both imports and exports, though.
Globalisation of this nature presents so many more selling opportunities for retailers. The high street or main street shop window is opened up to the world, and sales can be aided by the growing number of cross-border services offered by marketplaces and logistics companies.
UK retailer Fat Face is an example of a mid-sized fashion retailer making progress with its omnichannel strategy, in combination with growth in new international markets.
Fat Face eCommerce sales now represent 18% of overall business, and the company is looking to drive its global business. By shipping online orders internationally for some time, it has built up a reputation outside its home country, paving the way for it to open non-UK stores and widen its reach. It has opened five stores in the US just last year alone, and there are plans for more.
Integration to Connect Nations
To fully take advantage of the cross-border eCommerce market’s potential, retailers need to integrate the most suitable technology into their stores and back-office operations.
Selling online, selling on mobile and integrating these eCommerce systems to sell more in stores has never been so simple. And it will also make services like click & collect easier to manage centrally.
With the iVend eCommerce feature, retailers can create powerful omnichannel experiences, wherever their customers are located. It can be seamlessly integrated to the iVend Retail management suite, or any merchandise management or ERP system, and allows retailers to reach a new online audience, or customers in different countries, or make cross-border orders – all while maintaining a central view of transactions.
At the beginning of the digital age, many retailers saw eCommerce as a threat to the future of their business. In the years since, as eCommerce has grown in popularity with consumers and businesses have developed their own compelling online offerings, the situation has clearly changed.
The real forward-thinking ones are building their business models as a hybrid of bricks and clicks – and the ones gaining the most traction are those who’ve tidily integrated online features into their stores and are using them to reach customers far and wide.