Fedex Express comments on crossborder e-commerce
E-commerce has changed the way the world conducts business, and the rise in technology has made it easier to interact with customers quickly and across borders. With economies becoming more interconnected, large and small companies are now able to access markets that were previously unattainable.
With a growing shift in retail industry trends, driven by technology and access to the internet, consumers are now accessing most stores and brands through online platforms. This shift provides entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand with new opportunities to sell their products or services to a much bigger international market.
The value of e-commerce transactions in the Middle East is expected to reach more than $69bn by 2020. Cross-border e-commerce trade volume in particular is expected to reach $26bn by 2020 in the Middle East and Africa. This trend is driven by consumers in the Middle East who choose to shop online because they believe it is cheaper than buying in stores, that there is a better selection of products to choose from, and because it is more convenient.
In the UAE, more than 60% of shoppers have purchased from other countries, primarily from the US (35%), Asia (30%), and Europe (25%). Free shipping is attractive and is increasingly expected by online shoppers in the UAE, in addition to the call for simple and safe payment methods.
E-commerce business owners should bear these factors in mind when developing the value chain for their online shopping process, as meeting customer-needs and expectations is critical to being successful. Beyond this, providing access to innovative products and services, paired with a seamless online experience and quality customer care is a winning formula.
Customer service, customer experience, and price are the three main ways for e-commerce retailers to distinguish themselves from the competition. In “Seizing the Cross-border Opportunity,” a study commissioned on behalf of Fedex, Forrester Consulting surveyed online merchants and thousands of online consumers across 17 countries and markets to understand their concerns, their priorities, and what smart SMES are doing to bridge that gap and remain competitive.
Below are some of the key research findings highlighting best practices for cross-border businesses in the digital age.
The value of e-commerce transactions in the Middle East is expected to reach more than $69bn by 2020.”
Understand your customer
Many of the merchants Forrester Consulting surveyed began selling into global markets after orders were placed by international customers, who found them through search engines or online adverts. It is important that your business knows and understands who is buying your products in order to cater to their needs.
Online shopping behaviors are largely similar across the globe, but paying attention to those regional nuances can help a business understand its customers better. Middle East consumers, for example, are more likely to purchase from companies they can trust – and 32% of them will remain loyal to brands that inspire trust. They’re also keen on using social media channels as a means to learn more about the products they want to buy. This means that companies must look beyond their online retail business to develop a strong social presence.
Highlight what makes your products special
Think about what you are offering to your customer. Is there something you can offer that nobody else can? Use this as your selling point to customers.
Cost is also a concern to the global e-commerce customer. Lower prices, and fewer duties or taxes were two of the main reasons given for seeking items across borders. However, 75% of participants rated availability as the most important aspect of their purchase.
Consumers are increasingly using their computers and smartphones to find goods that aren’t available where they live. For instance, 68% of respondents in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa considered uniqueness to be influential or very influential when it came time to making a purchase.
put global consumers at ease
One major hurdle for SMES is that most crossborder shoppers prefer multi-brand retailers or marketplaces. In a survey asking consumers to rank their preferred online shopping destinations for foreign goods, small or medium-size independent retailers were rated fourth, out of five options. This was mostly due to the limited seller reputation information. For example, for shoppers in another country, most small businesses are seen as unknown entities, which makes it harder to establish trust since they may be viewed as unestablished.
In order to leverage multi-brand marketplaces for your business, SMES should consider selling their goods through a marketplace platform. Your homegrown venture can build off another company’s global reach, language, localisation, and country-focused marketing. Shoppers get buyer protection, and on-site customer reviews provide an unbiased demonstration of just how good your products are.
build your brand on excellent service
Along with the business’ reputation, logistics are vital for cross-border transactions. Key deciding factors for choosing a product form a particular store included: delivery times, package tracking, as well as a simple return or exchange process.
When it comes to international shipping for SMES, delivery features that boost transparency and eliminate guesswork also go a long way to leveling the playing field.
Many of the successful merchants from the study worked closely with at least one major global logistics provider which provided guidance and assistance. This approach allowed businesses to easily offer those all-important add-ons like guaranteed delivery. However, the top merchants work with logistics providers to make life easier for business owners, by offering services like calculating duties and taxes, paperwork support, and streamlining cross-border returns.
The Forrester study shows that savvy online retailers can compete on the global stage. Small businesses create new businesses, drive and shape innovation, speed up structural changes in the economy, and introduce new competition – thereby contributing to productivity. In order to continue to grow and expand their markets, small businesses need to focus on their strengths while building on the expertise of established services.