By Tony Preedy, Managing Director of Fruugo
In today’s connected world, retailers in one country are no longer limited to reaching nearby customers. Supported by the right platforms and tools in place, they can sell to customers all over the world with ease.
The interconnectivity of our global society also means that trends occurring in one country often spread rapidly to others, accelerating the pace of change in consumer demands. Keeping up with these fast-evolving consumer trends in multiple markets is no mean feat, especially considering the ongoing supply chain issues that retailers are continuing to navigate during their post-pandemic recoveries.
For retailers to adapt to and get ahead of new trends – as well as capitalising on the opportunities they offer – it’s important for them to be agile when it comes to cross-border ecommerce. This includes keeping abreast of events that may influence consumer habits, diversifying their product offering and keeping their inventory updated and visible.
Adapting to trends
Worldwide events are increasingly influencing product purchases. A clear example of this was the range of health and hygiene related products, such as hand sanitiser and face masks, that saw huge demand during the peak of the pandemic and for which there were then global shortages.
Equally, consumers are increasingly influenced by ‘viral’ pop culture more than ever. For example, the Korean Netflix series Squid Game boosted sales of white slip-on Vans shoes worn by the show’s protagonists by an enormous 7,800%. At Fruugo, Squid Game cosplay outfits became the best-selling item on the global marketplace.
This demonstrates the opportunities that are available for retailers who can instantly adapt to trends and expand their audience on a global scale. These shifts in demand for goods can occur from anywhere at any time, so it pays for retailers to keep abreast of what is popular to their target customers.
Cross-border selling made simple
For many retailers, selling across borders can feel like an uphill battle as it requires resources and tools that many do not have in order to cope with the various complexities involved. However, the growth of digital marketplaces and the support they provide sellers has opened up cross-border selling. In fact, most cross-border online sales are now made using these platforms.
For sellers, marketplaces are a breath of fresh air and can help to reduce a lot of the headaches involved in traditional cross-border selling because they can minimise much of the technical work for sellers and help optimise marketing. For example, in many jurisdictions, marketplaces are responsible for the calculation and remittance of sales taxes depending on the type of goods and the customer’s location. They also integrate with local payment providers, screen orders for fraud, and take on the cost of currency conversion.
Nowadays, many offer more than simply facilitating transactions. Marketplaces work on behalf of the retailer by actively marketing their products to generate sales from customers across global markets. Sellers then just need to organise shipping the parcels. This is also simplified by the active market in international ecommerce logistics. Unsurprisingly, small and light items are still the most commonly traded goods across borders, but even heavy and bulky items can now be shipped economically to neighbouring markets. All of this makes it possible and practical to sell most types of consumer goods internationally.
Of course, the translation of content into foreign languages is also an important factor to consider, and many marketplaces provide multi-lingual customer service and account management, capture funds using locally essential payment methods and localise pricing, all on top of handling other cross-border issues such as local retail regulations.
Agility and availability
Buying from other countries was already mainstream prior to the pandemic, but global lockdowns and unpredictable markets were responsible for spurring on the mass shift towards shopping online, as well as driving consumers to be more in tune with what’s in the public consciousness than ever before.
Post-pandemic, today’s shoppers are therefore savvier. They can find and buy exactly what they need online, without being too picky about who or where they are buying from. If they can’t find a product from one retailer, online shoppers will easily find alternative suppliers that do have stock with a simple online search. They can also very easily compare pricing and delivery times, which are even more important during ongoing supply chain and cost-of-living issues.
As such, agility and availability are now crucial to winning the sale, meaning the rapid synchronisation of inventory with search engines is mission critical for effective retailing.
The merits of diversification
The last few years have been especially tough for retailers, and this has highlighted the danger of only having one digital platform or route to market. The ability to take advantage of some of the booming market in cross-border transactions requires focus on generating more reach and visibility for their products.
Marketplaces offer incremental sales from around the world at a low marginal cost. The more marketplaces that sellers list on, the greater their total digital presence and the higher their overall sales. Diversifying channels to market also helps to reduce the risk associated with being dependent on one, such as solely relying on Amazon.
With the right platforms and tools in place, there’s no reason why today’s sellers can’t connect with customers from all over the world at zero risk to themselves and be able to jump on trends that are spreading throughout multiple regions. Market unpredictability will continue to impact retailers’ performance into the foreseeable future – and those who are effectively capitalising on cross-border ecommerce will have more opportunities to thrive.