“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin
Digital transformation in the retail industry is not a new story. For decades, retailers have steadily implemented modern strategies to improve the e-commerce model and deliver a great online shopping experience. There have been more than a few stragglers along the way who resisted this transformation, and unfortunately, they have faced some of the most difficult challenges in the face of the current market disruptions. To date, more than 20 retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the pandemic began.
For most retailers who understand the need to compete online, it isn’t a question of if they will transform; it’s more of a question of when. The global pandemic has delivered a shot across the bow to retailers across every sector that now is the time to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation initiatives.
E-commerce has been evolving at a rapid pace and is constantly shifting, introducing innovations and new processes and tools that brands must keep pace with. This means that digital transformation is never officially complete, and ongoing initiatives must provide room for continuous improvement and growth. A few years ago, experts exclaimed that digital transformation was a “marathon, not a sprint.” But today, due to the pandemic, it looks like it may be both.
When e-commerce brands understand that digital transformation is an ongoing achievement, they can be more agile and responsive. In effect, digital transformation allows brands to apply an adaptive model to their business. Companies that adapt to their circumstances have the ability to steer in a new direction when trends change suddenly or markets are disrupted. This is especially important for cross-border e-commerce merchants. Staying on top of customer demands and expectations in one market is challenging enough; responding quickly to global demands is more complex.
Becoming an agile e-commerce brand that is capable of adapting to new processes, technologies, and resources doesn’t happen overnight. This type of shift requires a robust technology stack that can support a business to move away from the status quo and embrace a new path forward. What we’ve learned throughout this pandemic is that the businesses that couldn’t adapt are now finding themselves in survival mode, just focused on treading water. The ones that were nimble enough to shift into an adaptive mode, by fully embracing digital tools and adjusting supply chains and business models, have been able to set themselves up for future growth.
Automation and outsourcing certain elements to vendor partners can help. Many technology solutions for e-commerce serve as point solutions, solving only one specific challenge. But there are many pain points involved in cross-border e-commerce across all steps along the buyer’s journey. Your cross-border e-commerce website’s inventory catalog, product descriptions, pricing, checkout experience, shipping, and return policy all have the potential to draw in loyal customers or create abandoned shopping carts.
To make the most of the hard work your brand has already invested in digital transformation and adapting to market shifts, it is important to find a solution that can solve your global customers’ pain points when shopping cross-border online. When thinking about the future capabilities of your cross-border e-commerce website, here are but a few of the many questions to consider:
- Can I ensure that all international purchase items are delivered to the customer within the delivery time stated at checkout?
- Will my localized website be able to offer shipping tiers?
- Is my website able to configure landed costs based on the country I am selling in?
- Can my cross-border e-commerce website offer customers local payment options?
- Can my e-commerce website display local currencies and settle transactions in those currencies?
- How are we offering seamless support for reverse logistics in the event of returns?
Most importantly, digital transformation shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing exercise in the evolution of a business. Most brands capable of adapting to current and new markets go through several iterations along the way. Agile e-commerce brands will evaluate what they have that’s working, eliminate what’s not, and then add or replace parts of the digital tech stack over time. Make sure to choose a flexible cross-border e-commerce platform with the capability to future-proof your business, one that is built to evolve so it can respond to your future business needs as customers’ needs change. Ultimately, the vendor partners you choose to help you in your quest to adapt and grow should be as agile as you strive to be.