For any fashion and retail brand that has yet to fully embrace the world of global ecommerce – there is no better time than now. Global ecommerce has been one of the few industries to have flourished throughout the pandemic as it continues to undergo a rapid transformation. As part of this surge, there has also been a noticeable rise in cross-border ecommerce. Last year, it is estimated that worldwide retail ecommerce sales grew 27.6%, for a total in excess of £3 trillion. While it’s true the pandemic spurred the surge in online shopping, by no means will this be a short-term trend. So, what can fashion brands do to ensure they are having a dominant market share and continue to flourish? Carly Thomas, Senior Director at Digital River shares her thoughts with us below:
Consumers are buying from abroad, and brands need to ensure this process is coherent, controlled and consistent. Merchants who operate internationally must be able to localise their customers’ buying experiences, including offering preferred payment methods across all countries to ensure they take full advantage of opportunities outside their home market.
Some industry experts predict ecommerce will continue to see the same rate of growth beyond the pandemic, others say businesses should be recalibrating for diminished growth. No matter which scenario plays out, a solid cross-border commerce strategy including payments is key to maintaining sales growth past the pandemic.
It starts with a D2C, cross-border strategy
As the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the economy to a halt in early 2020, cross-border ecommerce proved to be a bright spot compared to the growing uncertainty in other industries. In fact, the second quarter of 2020 saw double-digit growth as the initial logistics challenges were resolved.
The pandemic not only highlighted the resiliency of cross-border ecommerce in the face of disruptions, but it also demonstrated B2C brands need to have a mature multi-channel strategy to support that cross-border strategy. This approach should feature an emphasis on a direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel to avoid an overreliance on brick-and-mortar or third-party retailers.
With global ecommerce sales growing, B2C brands can’t afford to not have a strong D2C strategy, with a cross-border D2C channel being the best defence against future retail disruption.
Think local, act global
When expanding your ecommerce brand internationally, you need to prepare for the complexity and challenges of cross-border payments. Localisation is key when it comes to delivering a successful cross-border ecommerce strategy. A localised approach to processing can increase the number of successful transactions, but there are several crucial elements that need to be taken into consideration.
First and foremost, speak to the buyer in their own language and be aware of cultural complexities. This will require you to update your product imagery and the copy on your website to engage local audiences. This gets to the heart of customer expectations by making sure the website looks familiar to them.
Next, offer local currencies. Shoppers expect to pay for purchases in their local currency. It is becoming increasingly common for websites to include both the local currency as well as additional major world currencies (i.e., USD, Euro or the British pound). Consumers are more comfortable and likely to make a purchase when they see a product in a currency, they are familiar with, regardless of where that product originates.
Consumers also expect to make purchases with their preferred payment method. Consumer behaviour and the method they use to complete transactions can vary greatly from region to region and the payments space continues to expand with Buy Now, Pay Later offerings growing in popularity. Don’t limit yourself to a strategy that only includes one option like a credit card. Consumers expect payments options that use local payment networks, their own banks and new mobile methods.
Compliance is key
Brands selling cross-border will also need to become expert on local tax laws, compliance and import/export regulations. It is crucial for sellers to have a deep knowledge of local regulations to account for even the slightest variances. Failure to understand the nuances in local regulations could result in serious financial penalties and bad publicity.
Another key consideration when setting up your strategy is data protection. Be aware that many countries have adopted their own data protection regulations and these regulations are constantly evolving. Compliance dates can also change, as we’ve seen with PSD2 in the EU.
Finally, be transparent. Let the customer know what their total cost will be for the purchase so there are no surprises or hidden fees. Displaying all applicable taxes, duties, and shipping costs at checkout will help you gain your customers’ trust and loyalty to return for future purchases.
It’s an exciting time, technology is involving every day, making going global even easier. Nailing the cross-border strategy and keeping up to date with the latest innovations is paramount to cementing customer satisfaction, earning shoppers’ loyalty and repeat business.