The market size of cross-border e-commerce is growing rapidly and is expected to eclipse $1 trillion in 2020, according to a 2016 report by Accenture & Ali Research. For context, cross-border sales were $230B in 2014.
Success in cross-border e-commerce lies in navigating the complex ecosystem of rules and regulations, import/export restrictions, currency fluctuations, cultural norms of product pricing, payment method expectations, and the onus on retailers to be transparent with total costs at checkout. On top of that, the logistical challenges of international shipping and returns – now an extension of your brand – can undercut your ability to win the day and gain long-term brand evangelists.
How do you tie it all together and get your global prospects the products they want, with the experience they deserve, and drive revenue from a channel that’s still developing for most retailers? Attack the opportunity with a global mindset, don’t cut corners, and leverage technology partners who have experience executing in the trenches.
There are several key components of localization: consumer pricing strategy, currency, and alternative payment methods. Combined, these are critical pieces of an optimized international customer experience (CX) and will pay dividends if you do it right.
Shipping is Key
Anyone can enable international shipping. What kind of experience do you want to deliver?
Your website is only the start of customer engagement and the experience continues through delivery. The way in which orders are tracked and delivered will forge a lasting memory in the mind of global consumers (the same as it does in the U.S.). Be aggressive in your management of perceived consumer challenges such as high shipping costs, long delivery times, and lack of returns.
Focus On Your Brand – Trust Technology Partners to Help You Deliver
The point is this: building and maintaining in-house technology is expensive and timely. It’s often the business that is on the hook to deliver results on functionality, costs, and risk exposure. Couple that with the perception that retailers must be experts in global e-commerce to sell cross-border and the thought of it can become overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be.
Retailers now have technology partners at their disposal to break down those roadblocks and earn loyal cross-border customers. With the right partner, you can craft unique purchasing journeys for buyers in any country, and ensure that no matter where your customers are located, they’ll enjoy a buying experience that reflects what they would expect from a local retailer. Ultimately, you’re able to grow your percentage of revenue from cross-border customers, turning an area of potential growth into a game-changer for your business.
Pat Close is a Director within Pitney Bowes’ Global Ecommerce practice. In this role, he leads strategic partnerships with iconic U.S. retailers and brands helping them build and execute successful global ecommerce strategies. Prior to joining PB, Pat served as a Senior Consultant within Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy & Operations practice in Southern California. He has broad experience across multiple industries including ecommerce, retail, technology, healthcare and financial services.