5 ways to prepare your brand for international e-commerce

Even if you think of yourself primarily as a servant e-commerce brand, you have an international presence. Channels like Google, Facebook, and Instagram allow anyone in the world to find brands they love, including yours.

Even if it hasn’t happened yet, it will. With cross-border e-commerce growing at a rapid rate, the question is not if but when.

There are buyers in other countries who are ready and willing to buy from you. The question is whether your e-commerce site is ready for them.

International Internet traffic explodes

The increase in cross-border e-commerce traffic is undeniable. Research and markets predicted a 30% increase in the value of the cross-border e-commerce market from 2019 to 2026. He also reported that in 2020 the majority of online consumers actually prefer international e-commerce shopping to local websites, citing more variety and better value. In addition, a market study carried out by Facts and Factors indicates that cross-border e-commerce will reach around $ 4.8 billion by 2026 with an annual growth rate of 27% through 2027.

Cross-border e-commerce offers retailers a huge opportunity to expand their reach into new markets. However, expanding to accommodate customers across borders can lead to unique challenges requiring careful planning.

For example, dynamic fashion brand MZ Wallace had been shipping its designer handbags and accessories internationally for quite some time. However, the experience of its global website did not calculate and display duties and taxes prior to shipment, resulting in customer confusion, significantly higher costs, lower conversion rates, and excessive international customer service issues. To continue growing their global sales, the MZ Wallace team knew they needed to optimize their website to remove these barriers for international buyers and reduce cross-border shipping costs.

Inclusive fashion brand Universal Standard is another example of a brand that needed to prepare for the challenges of international expansion. When the brand decided to expand from the United States to Canada, the team felt that using a field consultant in Canada was a suitable solution. However, as the demand for plus size fashion began to increase globally, Universal Standard realized that the use of local consultants was insufficient and needed an e-commerce solution capable of supporting and to effectively develop its international presence.

The reality is that cross-border e-commerce offers both huge opportunities and unique challenges. Successful expansion is the result of anticipating challenges you might encounter and preparing ahead of time for how you will handle them.

5 elements of a successful cross-border e-commerce strategy

During any global expansion, you will undoubtedly encounter obstacles unique to your business and the market in which you are expanding. However, common sticking points accompany almost every cross-border expansion, and your strategy should take this into account.

1. Localized experience

A hyper-localized e-commerce experience from start to finish is essential for cross-border success. Hyper-localized experiences mean:

● Transparent pricing in local currency. If customers have a hard time figuring out how much they will pay for a product or are unable to settle transactions in the local currency, they are much less likely to complete the purchase.
● Reasonable shipping prices. High shipping costs compared to local ecommerce retailers are a big barrier to buying and will result in lower conversion rates.
● Translated the content into the local language. This is especially important for the payment process.

2. Logistics options

Cross-border buyers want several fast and inexpensive delivery options when it comes to international shipping. High shipping prices and long delivery times are significant disincentives for buyers, and offering different levels of shipping allows customers to balance costs against speed of delivery.

Behind the scenes of brands with multiple fulfillment centers, your ecommerce website needs to account for inventory in different countries in order to ship from the nearest warehouse as efficiently as possible.

This is another way to reduce the speed and cost of delivery, although it presents challenges that require a cross-border solution to support.

3. Transparent payment experience

Payment is a critical point for the customer’s purchase, and it is even more critical when the transaction is cross-border. All the usual hesitations and concerns are magnified when someone buys from an international site. Meeting this challenge requires a transparent, dynamic and localized payment process, which includes:

● Highlighting the data security measures put in place (McAfee trust seal, etc.)
● Offer a variety of payment methods, including those popular in some countries
● Clear display of total cost in local currency with precisely calculated duties and taxes
● Facilitated connection with customer service

The more user-friendly and familiar the checkout experience, the lower the cart abandonment rate.

4. Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

CRO is essential in cross-border e-commerce due to cultural differences between countries. The way you present a product to US buyers may not appeal to buyers in other countries.

Through systematic A / B testing, you can determine the best way to fine-tune the customer experience to maximize conversion for the local audience.

5. International product syndication

To appear alongside local retailers in online searches or social media ads, you need to syndicate your products through localized product feeds. This includes providing key product data such as title, description, images and prices, ensuring that your products are displayed with localized information.

Creating and updating localized feeds with the most recent information is often a manual process, making it arduous and increasingly difficult with each additional market you enter.

A crucial part of any cross-border expansion strategy is to easily implement technology to automate the syndication process across multiple markets.

Are you ready to go global?

Cross-border e-commerce will only continue to grow as people feel more comfortable with the idea of ​​shopping online from brands in other countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many people to buy from online brands with which they have never had prior interactions, including international brands.

To capture your share of cross-border e-commerce revenue, you need to prepare your brand. Be prepared to understand the unique challenges of expansion, and have both a strategy and the tools to overcome these obstacles.

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