Is Your Brand Prepared for Cross-Border E-commerce Demand?

February 1, 2021

Your brand may be winning with domestic customers, but what about your global ones? Before you say, "we're not an international brand yet" think again. Most domestic retailers with an online presence are already international brands whether they intend to be or not. Thanks to international channels such as Google Search, Facebook and Instagram, consumers anywhere in the world with an internet connection can stumble across a brand that appeals to them. Cross-border shoppers are ready to make purchases from your e-commerce site. The question is, will your brand--and your e-commerce store--be ready for them?

International Web Traffic Continues to Rise

When we look at the top 1,000 domestic e-commerce brands in the U.S., we see that 40% of their website traffic in 2020 came from consumers in other countries. The opportunity for cross-border e-commerce retailers to extend their brand's reach into new global markets is enormous.

domestic and international traffic

*SimilarWeb E-Commerce Traffic Analysis of 300+ top online retailers, January-December 2020

Some e-commerce retailers had the foresight to think about their global presence from day one. For example, Citizens of Humanity, a premium denim brand based in Los Angeles, was well aware of its built-in appeal to international consumers early on in the journey. From the time of the brand's founding in 2003, its leaders thought about a global strategy, but it was more focused on the question of what they wanted to stand for as a brand. International brand identity is an important step, but there's more to the journey than that. The brand realized that it needed to optimize its e-commerce website to remove barriers for cross-border shoppers while reducing international shipping costs.

Other retailers become aware of their cross-border potential more slowly, over time. A logical option is to enter a single market that's physically close to your domestic market. For example, U.S.-based brands often start with Canada as their first global market. This was the case with Universal Standard, an inclusive fashion brand. Universal Standard first noticed an increase in cross-border demand based on the close proximity of its Seattle brick-and-mortar store to Canada. At first, Universal Standard decided that having a consultant on the ground in Canada was the way to go. But as its size inclusive apparel began to catch on around the world, it became clear that the brand needed an international e-commerce solution and not just a local consultant for each market.

Even the most seasoned international e-commerce brands must revamp their online presence to improve the customer experience. Leading handbag design house MZ Wallace had been shipping its trendy bags to international customers for quite some time but knew that its international e-commerce store was not properly localized. Relevant taxes and duties weren't calculated prior to shipping, creating customer confusion. As a result, the brand saw lower conversion rates from cross-border shoppers.

Removing the Points of Friction

Whether your brand is eyeing global expansion as a future goal or you've been selling into global markets for years, there are some key elements that must be part of any cross-border strategy. Here are six common points of friction for cross-border e-commerce retailers.

Localization. E-commerce merchants need to provide a hyper-localized customer experience from start to finish. This extends to the product catalog, transparent pricing in the local currency, and shipping tiers that compete with local e-commerce merchants' offerings.

Logistics. Be sure to provide multiple options for low-cost international shipping for cross-border customers. Behind the scenes, a cross-border e-commerce website must connect to a retailer's global inventory.

Checkout and alternative payments. A dynamic, localized checkout experience reduces abandonment rates for cross-border shoppers. Providing a well-rounded mix of the most popular alternative payment methods in each target country removes another barrier for international consumers.

Conversion optimization. Brands need the flexibility to experiment in global markets to discover which offerings resonate best. Maximize results and build loyalty with A/B testing.

Product syndication. Retailers need the power to expand into multiple marketing channels through localized product feeds. This ensures that your brand's products appear in international Google search results alongside competing retailers.

Even experienced e-commerce merchants can struggle with the complexities of international selling. As customer tastes, needs and preferences change, it can be difficult to keep pace on a global scale. Launching a localized e-commerce store in a target country is anything but a one size fits all endeavor.

With Flow's modular e-commerce platform, brands can be sure they're doing everything possible to remove these common points of friction. Flow fits into a cross-border retail strategy by providing end-to-end, localized e-commerce experiences for international customers by country or region. Brands that work with Flow see increased conversion rates from international consumers and decrease in cart abandonment. They reap the rewards of extending the reach of the brand while reducing costs around shipping, international logistics, and returns.

To learn more about how Flow's cross-border e-commerce solution can help your brand make the most of international website traffic, get in touch today.

cross border e-commerce