5 Tips for Increasing Global Sales This Holiday Season
Online shopping continues to grow, with e-commerce sales predicted to reach $963 billion globally by 2013, with an annual growth rate of 19.4 percent. This rapidly expanding global digital community has the potential to be a vast marketplace for any retail business, large or small, with an online presence. E-commerce opens the door to the notion of business without borders — i.e., the opportunity to sell products and services to anyone, anywhere in the world. At least, this is the ideal.
Targeting the International Shopper
To entertain any ideas of international expansion, today's businesses must first understand the current online purchasing landscape. A Pitney Bowes survey of more than 4,000 international consumers uncovered online purchasing trends in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany. Results show similarity across these geographies, and also some intriguing anomalies. In the last 12 months, which of the following products have you purchased online and had delivered to your home (average result across U.S., U.K., France and Germany)?
Online purchases of every type of product have been on the rise over the last 12 months, with books and apparel leading the way. A healthy 25 percent of respondents reported that they had more of these items delivered to their homes in the past year. The global migration to e-commerce is also fueled by mobile trends. Personal devices with branded apps are changing consumer buying behavior dramatically.
The high ranking of books and clothes is no surprise. While the overall market for physical books may be in decline, propped up by e-book sales, established players such as Amazon.com hold powerful sway. In fact, Amazon reported double-digit growth in physical books in 2011. Similarly, online clothing retailers — pure-play e-commerce businesses or established high-end chains with a web presence — continue to perform strongly.
E-commerce marketers looking to capitalize on these global trends should prepare for the holidays with the right technologies that reach these consumers online or in-store. Here are five ways to do this:
- For the consumer in any country, the shopping cart experience must be seamless. E-commerce solutions now automatically calculate cross-border fees, end-to-end shipping and local taxes. They also filter out products that are prohibited from being sold in certain locales by import and export regulations.
- Use a multichannel approach for holiday campaigns. Direct mail, call centers, websites, live chat, texts, social media and email should all be leveraging the same customer data and communicating in a similar tone.
- Pace your communications for a two-way conversation to build customer loyalty. Timing and acknowledging previous touchpoints build intimacy.
- Make returns and customer service easier. Customers will remember and return to buy from your brand again.
- Measure your cross-border success as new technology solutions contribute to the emergence of this revenue-generating trend.
Cross-border e-commerce shopping and shipping solutions are expanding retail's reach. By implementing the five tips mentioned above, retailers can create a seamless experience for each consumer, from the online shopping cart to the moment they open the package at home.
Craig Reed is the vice president, global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes. Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.