International She-commerce: The Global Buying Power of Women

April 3, 2020

Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman.” This quote originated in an advertising campaign from the 1940s to sell Ladies Home Journal magazines to housewives. While at the time it had different undertones and meanings, it is very relevant today when looking at the increase in the number of women making economic decisions for their households.

The buying power of women, internationally, has changed dramatically since that ad slogan was launched. The percentage of women with disposable income has been on the rise for the last decade, due in large part to an increase in the volume of women entering the workforce around the globe. Euromonitor predicts that by 2030, the global employed female population will increase worldwide by 14 percent. There’s an opportunity here for cross-border e-commerce merchants to market to more female customers in global markets with increased buying power. And women in many major markets are willing to shop and already shopping cross border.  In fact, Flow’s research shows that in key international markets, such as India and the UK, women are more likely to make international purchases than men.

Shopping By Gender

Winning the loyalty of female consumers in global markets will require brands and retailers to carefully consider how to best position their offerings. This is more challenging than it sounds, especially since surveys have cited that 91 percent of women say that advertisers don’t understand them.

Influencers, caregivers, and gatekeepers

What are women buying from cross-border e-commerce merchants? The obvious answers are fashion and beauty. Clothing remains the top e-commerce retail category across all global markets, for both women and men. But it’s wise not to be shortsighted because there’s another, more complex way to look at this question. As more women become financially independent, they are becoming the primary decision-makers for purchases in more traditionally “male” retail categories such as automobiles, travel and vacations, computers and other electronics, and home improvement goods. Considering this, it’s important for brands to avoid marketing to women using gender stereotypes.

Further, women aren’t making online purchases only for themselves. Keep in mind that in most markets, women act as primary caregivers for their children, their parents, their pets, and even their workplaces and communities. In this role, women turn to e-commerce for items for their partners, children, parents, in-laws, friends, pets, and businesses. Our research shows that in just about every major e-commerce market, the presence of children in the household influenced purchasing decisions. Women, as a purchasing demographic, possess a force-multiplier effect. Brands should consider them as the gateway to everyone else in the family.

What women want: localization and convenience

To deliver a frictionless e-commerce experience that wins over female consumers in any international market, brands and retailers should focus on two core areas: localization and convenience. The role of caregivers, in addition to hectic careers, means that women everywhere are extremely busy. The last things they need are more barriers to interfere with their online buying experience.

Localizing your e-commerce website is a crucial step for smooth market entry, regardless of your target customer. But it also removes barriers and boosts convenience for busy female consumers who want to be able to quickly search for and purchase the goods they need. Through properly localized e-commerce sites, brands make it easier for consumers to shop for items in their own currency and check out with ease using the payment preferences they’re used to.

Flow customer, MZ Wallace, a designer bag retailer founded by two women, decided to localize its e-commerce website to better appeal to international customers and improve conversion rates. MZ Wallace’s bags appeal to a core audience of working women who are often avid travelers and fitness enthusiasts. But the company’s international customers were experiencing confusion when attempting to make online purchases due to a lack of transparent pricing without clearly defined taxes and duties. With the help from Flow’s solution, MZ Wallace was able to provide localized versions of its website to sell and ship goods to 130 markets. Each localized website has the power to accurately calculate duty, tax, and shipping costs for customers in those specific countries. MZ Wallace’s website displays the correct product catalog for each country and provides the locally preferred payment methods.

Once brands understand how important it is to provide a convenient shopping experience for women, they can truly build loyalty within this demographic. Now that MZ Wallace has addressed its customer experience challenges, the brand can reach more markets more effectively. Their customer service team receives far fewer questions from customers about transactional problems or administrative issues relating to tax, duties, payments and international shipping.

To find out more about how to localize your cross-border e-commerce website and reach your target audience, get in touch with Flow.