Predictions for 2020: How International Merchants Can Plan for the New Year

December 16, 2019

As we move through the holiday season, we’ve been giving thought to the trends and surprises we see coming in the new year. We anticipate 2020 to be a critical year for cross-border selling and brands of all sizes, no matter their market of origin, will extend their reach into international markets. Here are some of our predictions for cross-border brands and what we expect to see going into the new decade.

1. Cross-border is increasingly mainstream.

Until recently, cross-border expansion for e-commerce businesses had been a privilege reserved for large enterprises. However, this will no longer be the case as smaller brands leverage new cross-border technologies, like Flow, to facilitate the operation and management of international selling. We see current trends showing strong indications that international expansion will continue to gain momentum despite the current unpredictable climate of tariffs and protectionism. More importantly, cross-border commerce is no longer reserved for early adopters, but will become mainstream. In the age of digital transformation, savvy brands with global aspirations will seek out solutions and leverage technology to execute successful cross-border strategies.

2. Selling via social is paramount.

Brands that have succeeded in expanding their global footprints via social media and global influencers are no longer the pioneers. Socially-driven commerce will not only be the norm, but will be an imperative for brands seeking entry into new markets. This will be the case particularly in emerging markets where more consumers with disposable income are coming online through mobile and have access to social media channels enabling them to discover new brands and shop online. International brands that embrace these emerging markets and invest in a strong social selling presence can capitalize on this new audience right as they come online and gain market share early on.

3. The customer experience is flawless.

At Flow, we see 2020 as the year where customers will demand operational perfection. Consumer expectations of a seamless customer experience will increase as shoppers demand instant gratification and more customer-friendly policies from online retailers. Offering localized and optimized checkouts, displaying broad payment options, providing end-to-end delivery and tailoring customer care are some of the many operational areas in which brands will invest. Brands can no longer afford to focus on just one or two areas of the customer journey. And while brands are furthering their connection with customers by being increasingly mission-driven, the only way they can deliver true value is by ensuring they are built for operational excellence to keep the customer journey smooth and simple. The ambitious brands that focus on the big picture and operationalize a positive customer journey holistically will reap impressive rewards.

4. Excellent experiences are expected.

Hand in hand with operational perfection is delivering excellence at every touch point in the customer journey. This will be a universal mandate for businesses as consumer expectations create a groundswell of demand for the best experiences. Consumers' increasing demands means that more brands in 2020 will tackle the cross-border e-commerce challenge of creating seamless and delightful customer experiences that feel domestic for global shoppers. As customer acquisition costs rise across paid channels, brands are naturally placing greater focus on their efficiency in acquiring new customers and their ability to retain them. This requires delivering excellence at every touch point to the customer in order to achieve better lifetime value by keeping them happy and getting them to come back again and again.

A solution like Flow, by offering automation, control, and flexibility, can create efficiencies for global brands launching nuanced international business strategies. Ready to learn more? Contact us today.