Cross-border shopping used to mean a “booze cruise” to France, or picking up discounted designer clothes on a foreign holiday. But today’s savvy consumers are just as likely to shop around for the best prices from the comfort of their sofa.
Ecommerce businesses are seeing a steady rise in cross-border sales, according to a recent report by Emarketer. They estimate that non-domestic business-to-consumer online sales in Europe will amount to £44.6 billion in 2014, around 14 per cent of all ecommerce sales. And the UK was the most popular choice for European shoppers.
Many of these consumers are visiting foreign companies’ websites. But a growing number are e using channels such as eBay or Amazon to make purchases.
These offer a number of attractions – a trusted name, reliable ways of paying and an easy way to compare prices.
According to ChannelAdvisor, which provides cloud-based ecommerce solutions to retailers, more and more retailers are choosing to sell on marketplaces. Their Multichannel E-commerce Study looked at more than 200 online retailers in the UK and USA.
They found that 84 percent were selling on Amazon and 63 per cent were using eBay. Most retailers said that online marketplaces were the number one way of reaching international consumers.
In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, taking advantage of these marketplaces clearly makes sense. But there’s still a need for research before getting started. Making sure your offering stands out from the competition can be a challenge.
Today’s cross-border shoppers are well-informed and looking for the best deals, using a number of channels to research and make purchases. Success depends on getting to know your target audience, finding out where they are and adapting your strategy.
Channel Advisor’s research found that 62 per cent of respondents thought that Amazon provided the best opportunity to sell internationally. eBay, which reaches an impressive 233 million customers in 27 countries, was in second place.
But there are also smaller sites that are growing internationally, such as ASOS Marketplace (for fashion retailers ) and Etsy, the top choice for handmade items.
As a starting point, research the most popular sales channels in your target market, and consider your competitors’ strategies. Many businesses say that pricing their goods competitively is one of the biggest challenges on Amazon.
eBay, for example, offers a number of options for sellers catering to international clients. The simplest is just adding international postage options to your listings. But more advanced options include localising and translating listings and posting them directly on eBay’s international sites, which makes them more visible and attractive to buyers.
If you’re targeting customers outside Europe, then country-specific sites can be key to reaching them. This is particularly true for the huge Chinese market. Tmall Global, which dominates ecommerce and is already used by brands such as Nike and Gap, should be part of your strategy. Other key sites include 360buy.com, while Taobao is similar to eBay, but with a stronger social element.
Over in Japan, Rakuten is the largest marketplace, with more than 7 million registered members. It is also branching out internationally, and caters for consumers in more than 200 countries.
At the same time, social commerce is evolving, and consumers are increasingly looking to social media to research products, share recommendations and find special offers. Even if they are not direct sales channels, building your brand on social media can be an important part of the overall experience.
By using multiple sales platforms, retailers can reach a much wider audience and maximise their return on investment from international ecommerce. For more advice on reaching global markets, do get in touch.