Forrester Study: Brands and Retailers See an Average of 166% ROI When Partnering with ESW for Global Expansion

Rapid ecommerce growth around the world is driving retailers to look to new markets and further capitalize on the online opportunity. In the first half of 2020, cross-border ecommerce grew 21%. Forrester now projects that cross-border ecommerce will be worth $736bn by 2023.[1] Whether brands are looking to launch cross-border for the first time or expand their global footprint into additional markets, beginning the process can be overwhelming, and significantly more complex than originally anticipated.

To ensure a proper cross-border offering, retailers need to consider not only the financial investment, but also the expertise, manpower and dedicated attention required. Researching each market, allocating resources, and hiring teams means there is a considerable time lag between the investment and being able to sell into those countries.

ESW commissioned Forrester Consulting to interview four ESW clients to determine the cost saving and business benefits of implementing their cross-border solution. Forrester reported that partnering with ESW meant these brands could avoid the complexities that come with international expansion, increase their revenue, reach new countries, and reduce operating costs.

This Total Economic Impact (TEI) study revealed that these brands working with ESW saw cost savings of 30%, 65 more countries activated and a 166% return on investment over a 3-year period. Financial results were aggregated into a composite organization, and include:

Summary of Results

  • Revenue Increase: 70 – 85% annual lift above the retailer’s own market expectations
  • Operational Cost Savings: Over $3million USD
  • Implementation Cost Savings: 4 full-time employees per country, and over $10 million USD
  • Additional Countries Activated Beyond Retailers’ Own Capabilities: 65

Increased Revenue

“Incorporating ESW’s services led to between 70% and 85% in annual lift above the organization’s own market expectations, due to its local knowledge, expertise, and ability to reach more markets than the organization would be able to on its own.”

The increase in revenue for brands working with ESW came from a greater number of countries accessed, a lower financial investment, and increased conversion thanks to ESW’s expertise in all areas of ecommerce and a localized customer experience.

  • Calculate your own revenue when working with ESW by taking the online assessment here.

Greater number of markets activated

ESW’s expertise meant that brands could sell into markets that otherwise presented shipping or customs challenges too great for brands to navigate on their own. ESW activated 65 more countries over a 3-year period than brands would have been able to without ESW’s established logistics network and customs management.

For the composite organization, “ESW’s activation of more countries and greater local knowledge adds up to net new revenue of $46M in Year 1, growing to $123M in net new revenue by Year 3.”

Higher conversion

Lack of cross-border experience can prevent brands and retailers from offering a truly localized experience in international markets.

Serving the customer in their local language, showing local currency, ensuring popular local payment options are available, and charging duties and taxes at checkout is all critical for an optimized experience.

As well as turning on new markets for retailers, Forrester found that ESW strengthened retailers’ standing in existing markets, which led to increased conversion and revenue gains.

A digital group director for a fashion retailer commented, “Now, checkout is performing much better than before, in part because we now include common and popular local payment types for each country.”

Cost Savings

The brands interviewed by Forrester submitted that prior to working with ESW, cross-border operations were complicated by “costly tariffs, international shipping rates, and regulatory requirements.” ESW manages these concerns along with others such as translation, currency conversion, customs, and customer support.

Forrester estimated that these retailers saved 4% of cross-border revenue that would otherwise have been forfeited due to operating costs.

One of the biggest expenses that ESW saves retailers is the need to hire additional staff. Based on Forrester’s assumptions, companies saved $137,000 per year in salaries that would be paid to FTEs.

  • Find out how much you could save by partnering with ESW for your cross-border expansion by using this calculation tool.

Speed to market

One of the key challenges brands face when expanding into new territories is the time it takes from the initial investment to the first sale.

There is significant time invested in building a team with the experience in the necessary markets, learning the duties and tax requirements, establishing connections with couriers. The retailers Forrester interviewed knew that the time and effort involved in building an in-house solution would mean expanding to fewer countries.

“If I were to do this myself, it would amount to a project that takes more time to begin, costs more, and therefore takes more time to pay for itself.” Fashion Retailer, Global Director of Ecommerce

Unquantified Benefits

Maintaining brand value: ESW’s commitment to giving customers in all countries a localized shopping experience means customers are happy and brands are safe from reputational damage.

ESW expertise and guidance: ESW stays informed on political, shipping and regulatory issues and changes that might affect a retailer’s ability to sell into certain markets.

“ESW’s knowledge helps maintain business continuity even in the face of snowstorms and other unexpected events.”

Omnichannel capabilities: A critical area for many retailers, ESW’s omnichannel capabilities allow retailers to expand their offering into additional markets. ESW’s systems improve how a brand links their online and in-store services.

Deepening Current Market Penetration: Once ecommerce capabilities are established in foreign territories, retailers can focus on enhancing customer relationships. Interviewed customers expect activities such as region-specific marketing campaigns, personalization, or customer loyalty programs, will likely lead to increased sales.

Want the detailed cost-benefit analysis for your organization? Take the online assessment below:

Access the full study here: Forrester Research – The Total Economic Impact of ESW

[1] Forrester Analytics: Online Cross-Border Retail Forecast, 2018 To 2023 (Global)
Forrester Global Economic Impact Calculator