Think Tank: The Four Trends Shaping Global E-commerce
The president of eShopWorld U.S. on how retail brands can prepare to deliver on consumer expectations this year.
Until recently, shopping internationally was a mostly manual process involving Paypal transactions and low expectations for customer service and personalization.
Thanks to evolving consumer demands, retailers and brands have been ramping up their online efforts in response to consumer pressure to localize their global e-commerce sites. As a result, consumer expectations for more tailored experiences regardless of location are on the rise. Innovative brands like Asos, Nike, Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein are continuing to raise the bar in cross-border commerce through exceptional service and localized experiences online.
A recent Forrester report predicted the global online fashion market would reach $765 billion dollars by 2022, equating to 36 percent of total fashion sales. Comparing these numbers to $253 billion and 14 percent of sales in 2014, you can immediately see the significant opportunity for global ecommerce retailers who are ready to seize it.
Here are a few trends that will shape global e-commerce this year, pointing the way for retailers wanting in:
Sell Global, Feel Local
Retailers must develop a deep understanding of each respective market, from shopper preferences to marketing strategies. In 2019, we will see retailers take localization a step further by removing the friction from the shopper’s journey with local payment options, consistent pricing, optimal delivery solutions, and in-country returns. We will also see an extension of the debate of global sites versus “microsites,” and delivering a global experience to all shoppers vs. hyperlocalized, but less consistent experiences .
Returns, Bulk Shopping and Shipping, Oh My
Cross-border sellers have enjoyed a much lower return rate when compared to the 30 percent-plus rate of U.S. e-commerce sellers. But this could change, particularly as shoppers become less cautious and expectations for the ability to buy their favorite brand across borders solidify.
Smart Stores, Smarter Sellers
Global e-commerce has fallen behind most localized brand experiences and service innovations, particularly when it comes to loyalty and personalization. In 2019, retailers will bring smart technology tools and big data to cross-border commerce to better recognize shoppers and intuit a shopper’s needs, whether it’s same-day hotel delivery, local returns, incentives or more.
In 2019, global retailers and brands will extend omnichannel e-commerce solutions backward into the supply chain to facilitate in-store pick-ups with matching in-store pricing for shoppers near a store, and regional warehouses to source fast shipments and enable even faster returns. With tariffs and trade regulations in flux and customer demand evolving, fluid inventory staging and fulfillment might be the most important trend to win.
It is no longer a delightful surprise for a consumer to be able to buy in one country from a seller in another. It’s an expectation, along with the experience of ease, clarity and speed. Each of the aforementioned trends necessitates a global e-commerce solution that can source items to a shopper and ensure the overall purchase profitably, fast and easy.