Future Focus in the Growth of Global ECommerce in 2016

The digital transformation of the past decade has created a vast new online retail global ecommerce segment, with one unexpected consequence: cross-border shopping. Customers no longer feel limited to purchasing goods and services in their home country.

For retailers, this creates unique opportunities and threats. More competition means that customers who are already brand agnostic can more easily shop around for bargains. At the same time, this means retailers can access vast new foreign markets, potentially reaching millions of new customers with relatively low startup costs, given this can be through an extension of existing eCommerce channels.

China and India are two of the fastest-growing markets for global eCommerce. In both countries, a surprisingly low number of consumers – 15% in China and 8% in India – feel they are limited to buying from local retailers. Internationally inclined shoppers in both countries are seeking quality, authentic products. Many are already looking towards European and American retailers to supply these luxury tastes, according to the 2015 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study.

Worldwide, 33% of consumers have already purchased products from abroad, with the trend set to accelerate over the next few years. Going global is no longer a luxury.

Where do customers browse?

Retailers designing a digital sales funnel for domestic customers should have a strategy firmly in place. New channels emerge, but how these are integrated usually involve a simple iteration on current email, search and social campaigns.

When selling in foreign markets retailers have to consider the fact that local conditions will impact how customers find your eCommerce store. For example, Chinese consumers prefer shopping on smartphones. Japanese and Russians still use laptops and computers. Buyer experience needs to be tailored to target markets.

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex and Baidu are the starting point of most – over 62% – of retail searches in Germany, Japan and the UK, whereas this principle doesn’t apply around the world. In Canada & America however, customers are more inclined to visit a retailer’s website directly.

On the other hand, a social-first approach is more common in India (38%), Brazil (21%) and China (21%), that means factoring in local social networks, such as Weibo and Wechat. Online magazines and blogs are also key referral points for retailers in India.

Barriers to Global Retail Success in 2016

  • Efficient shipping. During the 2015 Christmas Holiday Season, which for retailers now includes Cyber Monday and Black Friday, shipping delivery rates reduced to 91% and 95% for UPS and FedEx. Shipping surges are expected to continue, which means retailers and carriers must be ready to handle goods more efficiently in 2016.
  • Customers expect to pay in their currency and be served with a website in their language. Deeper localisation, including accurate delivery information and timescales are also required of larger retailers entering new markets.
  • Understand local buying habits. The more information a retailer has about how people prefer to buy products in different countries – including the variety of interactions they expect as part of the Omni channel journey – the higher chance a browsing experience will result in increased conversions.
  • A comprehensive mobile strategy. Adobe’s Digital Index found that 49% of eCommerce visits came from smartphones and tablets during November 2015. Mobile already accounts for 45% of retail e-commerce sales. This trend is only set to continue, particularly in the most mobile-centric markets of Asia, India and South East Asia.

Cross-border eCommerce is set to be one of the new defining trends shaping the retail environment during 2016 and beyond. An effective mobile strategy, coupled with in-depth localisation for key markets is how retailer unlock the massive opportunities presented by this consumer-driven move towards a global shopping experience.

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