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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.

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