Today, cross-border ecommerce has made buying and selling across international borders much easier than a decade ago. Retailers and brands pursue this route to expand into new markets, drive greater brand awareness and acquire new customers.
But while ecommerce demand increased after COVID-19, the pace of cross-border deliveries slowed due to supply chain disruptions and pandemic-related challenges. We’ve seen port congestion, high and unstable fuel costs, truck driver shortages and myriad other hurdles. All of this has rippled across the entire supply chain, leaving retailers and brands wrestling with cross-border delivery delays and other pain points as business boomed.
Building an international market presence and bolstering these channels is often an incredibly daunting task, even for the most established brands.
For those looking to ensure greater success and an overall better customer experience in international markets, implementing these best practices can help you avoid supply chain and logistics disruptions while maximizing brand potential.
Analyze localized product data, international competitors
It’s important to first get to know the lay of the land. A thorough understanding of consumer trends in each target market you want to enter or expand in will put you ahead. A thorough consideration of cultural nuances will influence what you need to tweak, or even nix altogether from your product mix.
It’s also crucial to run a deep analysis on international competitors. Lean into research that pinpoints things like keyword terminology, yields pricing data and reveals which communication channels are being leveraged.
Bringing familiarity to each step of the buying experience can be accomplished in a couple of ways. For instance, you can tailor sizes and measurements to what is prevalent in a particular country. A European shopper, for instance, needs to see metric system measurements. Also, study buying trends on an annual basis. This includes identifying tentpole moments such as federal or religious holidays to maximize the effectiveness of product launches and promotional campaigns.
Identify and adhere to local regulations
A key piece of cross-border ecommerce success is to identify and adhere to local rules and regulations. Trade and commerce guidelines — i.e., legal restrictions on products, sanctioned or denied or restricted-party limitations and often complex tax policies — can quickly get you in hot water if not followed closely. For instance, it’s illegal to ship plant materials, soils and plants to Australia, and smoked salmon can’t be sent to Egypt. Breaching these requirements can result in litigation, hefty fines, loss of trading privileges and damaged reputations.
Regardless of services, taxes and charges, ecommerce businesses should remain transparent with their customers. This helps build trust in the minds of foreign customers.
Integrate relevant payment options
Who likes to see foreign currencies pop up when shopping online? For some, it can be such a turnoff that they bolt for a webstore with similar products in their own currency.
It’s up to you to do everything possible to make the online shopping experience seamless, maximizing sales and building up consumer trust. To that end, find the most secure payment options that adhere to local security regulations and standards.
Providing local payment options helps reduce the fear and risk of fraudulent activity while also complying with jurisdictional regulations.
The right technologies to automate, optimize strategies
From the moment someone places an order, you need to ensure a seamless delivery experience, and there are many technology solutions available to help.
Customizable delivery options such as convenient delivery slots, no-contact delivery, real-time status updates, quick and frictionless communication with drivers and easy ways to provide feedback are must-haves to ensure a great experience and build customer loyalty.
An Order Management System (OMS) provides end-to-end order visibility. Important functions such as order capture, allocation and handling returns are also automated by such solutions.
A control tower can capture real-time data generated from ocean, air and ground carriers, providing turn-by-turn visibility. Automated alerts can warn personnel in case of route deviations, unscheduled stops or potential delays to enable proactive corrective action. Finally, powerful analytics engines can analyze vast stores of data to uncover hidden inefficiencies and growth opportunities in new and more challenging regions. These insights can easily be gleaned from intuitive dashboards.
Implementing these best practices at the front end of a cross-border ecommerce strategy will provide you with actionable insights, helping you optimize logistics while providing a superb customer experience. This in turn can significantly boost brand loyalty and your bottom-line results.
Nishith Rastogi is Founder and CEO of Locus.sh