The global reach of cross-border ecommerce has grown comfortably since the launch of this annual report in 2013.
Originally, this growth was organic. Customers were willing to accept complicated and unreliable delivery options for the benefit of a good deal or a quality product. In the past few years, however, merchants have actively targeted and welcomed overseas consumers by developing clean, localized and intuitive cross-border experiences and reliable, affordable overseas delivery.
Three years ago, we noted a marginal shift from consumers to merchants driving cross-border trade. This trend evolved hand-in-hand with the increased penetration of high-speed Internet into more remote locations, more mobile and social connectivity, and advanced technology improving user experience. Merchants felt better equipped to provide value to overseas customers, particularly in developed markets. The US began targeting customers in the UK, and vice versa.
In 2015, not only were merchants even more engaged in cross-border ecommerce than the year before, they were exploring opportunities in booming markets such as China, the newly-crowned ecommerce king. Merchants could see the potential value of Eastern cross-border customers, and began targeting successful promotional holidays like Singles Day. What’s more, through the Free Trade Zone, China orchestrated preferable trading conditions for overseas merchants, giving them better access to Chinese consumers and businesses to encourage more B2C and B2B cross-border sales.
Global cross-border ecommerce sales prosper as a result of localized cross-border experiences, improved user experience and good trading conditions. (Tweet this!)
In 2016, however, we’ve observed that cross-border ecommerce growth has flattened, and Western merchants have a renewed reluctance towards emerging markets. This backward step is most likely generated by economic uncertainty across the world: the unexpected economic slowdown in China and the Brexit vote, among others. Merchants have lost the growing confidence that was evident in last year’s survey, and until the full effects of the global shakeup are established, the industry will be tentative.
Some specific trends, however, have continued stronger than ever in 2016.
Mobile commerce, which respondents named “biggest game-changer” in cross-border ecommerce for the third consecutive year, is growing from strength to strength. In the age of the ever-connected mobile shopper, omnichannel retail is now considered a must-have for digital business growth. More merchants are giving it attention, and those who do not offer omnichannel experiences plan to do so in the near future.
For today’s merchants, the key to doing this successfully lies in data. Harnessing valuable information and digital patterns allows businesses to provide context-rich user experiences for both domestic and cross-border customers. By keeping a step ahead of the competition, retaining valuable custom and giving consumers control, online merchants can expect optimized conversion and maximized revenues.
This is just an overview of industry’s biggest annual report on cross-border ecommerce; Key Business Drivers and Opportunities in Cross-Border Ecommerce. For comprehensive insights and a thorough analysis on the ecommerce landscape, download your free report copy now.