E-commerce is changing at an unprecedented pace. Anyone in e-commerce knows it can be tough to predict what consumers will want next. Retailers and consumer categories that were all the rage even a year ago can find themselves on the sidelines in the blink of an eye. New shopping trends, many driven by advancements in technology, mean that brands have to rethink the online shopping experience they provide their customers. And in more mature global e-commerce markets, customer expectations of online retailers continue to go up. Staying on top of trends in a single market is challenging enough; it’s exponentially more difficult for cross border retailers operating in multiple markets.
There are some key global trends we’ve been following that will impact brands and retailers, regardless of where they do business. Whether your online store is selling into one or two countries, or you’re maintaining a strong presence in multiple regions, it’s important to understand where the e-commerce industry is headed next, and then prepare accordingly.
To help cross border retailers plan their priorities in 2019, here are six global e-commerce trends to keep in mind:
1. Cross border e-commerce will transition from “option” to “must.”
If you are a domestic retailer, the best way to achieve significant growth in 2019 will be to enter new countries with your online store. As reported by Reuters in 2017, over a quarter of all revenue for sellers on Amazon around the world came from cross-border transactions, which is an increase of more than 50% from 2016. Even though stats from 2018 are not yet available for cross-border purchases on Amazon, we anticipate similar strong growth for last year. In 2018 Amazon expanded in Brazil and launched its two-day delivery service in Australia; while its leading competitor, Alibaba, looked to Europe, establishing a presence in Belgium and Spain. While some regions are still warming to the idea of making online purchases from foreign retailers, others, such as the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe are open to cross border e-commerce offerings.
2. Supporting a mobile-first customer experience in all markets is critical.
Smartphone user penetration has been on an upward trajectory for some time now in the top 20 global e-commerce markets, but expect it to spread across emerging markets in 2019. Mobile Marketer is predicting that m-commerce transactions will overtake e-commerce transactions globally by the end of 2019. That means the time is now for a website that functions as smoothly as a mobile app, has responsive design for all types of mobile devices, and provides mobile payment options.
3. Localized customer experiences will make or break brands.
41% of global consumers say they have switched brands after having a poor experience.The pressure is on for international e-commerce retailers to deliver on a localized user experience as the competition increases in top markets. That includes offering prices in localized currency, providing a frictionless checkout, the presenting the right mix of payment options and delivering smooth order fulfillment.
4. Direct-to-consumer subscriptions and online marketplaces will battle for customer dollars.
In many global markets, including Australia, France and Germany, online marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay and Wish are winning customers over. But direct-to-consumer brands, especially subscription-based e-commerce retailers, can win the brand loyalty fight if they invest in an end-to-end localized customer experience.
5. Chinese tariffs will complicate matters for U.S. retailers.
The U.S. added a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese products. In response, China instituted a tariff that will end up costing the United States an estimated $60 billion. The tariffs could impact smaller e-commerce retailers who source products from China first. Some retailers may need to carry fewer product choices or raise prices across the board to offset the cost.
6. India will explode as a hot cross border e–commerce market.
India will become a destination market for cross border retailers. It’s an attractive market for several reasons: its population (an estimated 1 billion consumers online by 2030) and the growing demographic of millennial consumers with a taste for foreign goods. Amazon has already set up a test market in India, along with Alibaba. Industry analysts predict that “the next $5 trillion battleground” in the retail industry will be in emerging markets including India, Latin America, and other areas. Other breakout markets for 2019 include South Africa and Mexico.
By embracing the ever-changing market trends and preparing for them, brands and retailers can look at 2019 as another positive opportunity to grow. To speak with a Flow cross border e-commerce expert about how to plan for these trends and more, contact us today.