Cross-border e-commerce sales are growing quickly. Cross-border sales will account for one-fifth of e-commerce sales by 2022, according to a 2017 Forrester Research Inc. report. And the number of online shoppers jumped 9% last year, according to GlobalWebIndex, a data analytics firm.
All of this is good news for online retailers that sell internationally. Merchants that extend product offerings to international customers can boost sales by as much as 15%, technology company BigCommerce recently reported. According to that same report, this type of cross-border e-commerce is projected to grow 25% annually through 2020, roughly twice the pace of domestic e-commerce.
“There are multiple benefits to selling goods internationally including a bigger customer base and higher margins,” says Carl Asmus, president and CEO of FedEx Cross Border, an international e-commerce technology and logistics provider. “By offering products to consumers located in other countries, retailers greatly increase their scope to make more sales. And because not all countries have access to a large selection of consumer goods, selling to foreign buyers can mean that retailers get better prices for goods than they would from a domestic shopper.”
Cross-border selling also allows retailers to capitalize on peak seasons in other countries. “Whether it is Singles’ Day in China or Thanksgiving Day in Canada, there are all sorts of special occasions that spur people to shop that we don’t have in the U.S.,” Asmus says. “Selling internationally means you can take advantage of worldwide online shopping trends and increase sales.”
While cross-border may be the fastest growing e-commerce segment, some retailers struggle to implement cross-border selling strategies to take advantage of their benefits. “Merchants want their cross-border shopping experience to be as simple as their domestic experience, and they want to offer their shoppers an omnichannel experience from pre-click to post-click,” he says. “At the same time, shoppers want greater visibility and flexibility for their orders.”
Merchants need two-way communication between the shopper and the delivery provider to offer easy and cost-effective fast shipping, Asmus says. They should also offer easy and affordable returns, and have fulfillment facilities located closer to international shoppers to ensure they can offer relatively quick delivery times.
Bolster merchant efforts
Technology can bolster merchants’ efforts, he says. “They should consider using analytics capabilities to drive inventory forecast and demand, allowing for simplification of the global supply chain,” he adds.
Technology enablement tools that are integrated into a retailer’s e-commerce platform—such as those offered by FedEx Cross Border—allow that retailer to provide a more seamless shopping experience to the international consumer, Asmus says.
“These solutions manage payment fraud protection, provide a more localized experience for the shopper and offer export compliance assistance for that particular country,” he adds. “Our technology also offers end-to-end visibility tools that include two-way communication, artificial intelligence-enabled solutions for customer service and a portfolio of delivery options ranging from premium to postal that offers the right transportation based upon merchant and shopper needs.”
It would be beneficial for retailers to understand the importance of cross-border e-commerce and start implementing strategies to stay ahead of the competition, Asmus says. “Cross-border e-commerce is the way of the future,” he says. “Retailers should be looking for the right cross-border technology partner now, before it’s too late.”Favorite