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Global Ecommerce and International Expansion | Pitney Bowes

Ready for more: four key focus areas for global ecommerce in 2016

By Rachel Martin, Global Director of Product Marketing for Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce

Undoubtedly the biggest initiative in 2015 for the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce business was the acquisition of Borderfree. We were already in a great position to help retailers manage technological and physical requirements for cross-border commerce. But as our two businesses come together, the power of our combined capabilities is extraordinary.  What’s most exciting for me is that now more than ever, we’re an industry leader in an industry that’s growing at a record pace. And in order to keep up with the trajectory, there are four key areas that cross-border retailers should focus on to continue global expansion across the world.

Localisation Matters            

Expanding globally is not simply setting up a website. Every country has cultural nuances, consumer expectations, and compliance regulations that require attention. International customers in the digital age expect a personal shopping experience and if the webstore they’re visiting feels foreign, they likely won’t be inclined to engage or buy. In 2016, going global isn’t a luxury – if you’re in the retail game, it’s a channel that must be explored. Online merchants need to consider both present and future expectations and trends to build a meaningful presence within new markets they’re planning to enter.

Shipping is the New Black

While delivery may not be the most glamorous aspect of the ecommerce experience, it may have the biggest influence on brand perception and customer satisfaction – which as retailers know, is the heart of the operation.

As global ecommerce sales continue to rise, guaranteeing reliable and timely delivery is harder than ever to ensure. Just look at recent news from Holiday 2015.  At one point in the season, on-time delivery rates for one of the major carriers fell to 91% compared to a rate of 97% in 2014 during the same period. 

With online retail only becoming more commonplace, customers aren’t going to simply accept stumbles in service quality as the new normal. An online retailer’s shipping capabilities need to keep pace with demand if they want to keep customers happy. For FedEx, 2015 was their “busiest holiday season ever.” Retailers and shippers alike must be prepared as shipping volumes continue to surge in 2016.  

Omni-Channel: Window Shopping Transformed

While ecommerce may have changed buyers’ relationships with brick-and-mortar retail, that doesn’t mean a webstore is the one-stop shop for their needs. How buyers actually get to the point of sale involves a multitude of interactions. Ads on desktops, research on mobile, shopping cart conversion on tablet, ship-to-store delivery and coupons by mail all play a part in converting a sales strategy into bottom-line profits. Retailers need to be present and consistent for the entire customer journey, respond to customer preferences, and ensure continuity across all purchasing and delivery channels. Data mining to understand your customer’s buying habits and delivery choices can help drive decisions about how and where to spend your time.

The Mobile Mandate

For years Marketers have been challenged to figure out the right game plan for mobile ecommerce. Up until recently the opportunity has sat on the back burner with little data to prove impact and true ROI.  But today mobile makes up at least 45 percent of total ecommerce sales and retailers don’t have a choice but to include this channel in their strategy. Adobe's Digital Index showed 49 percent of retail visits that took place between November 1-24, 2015 came from a smartphone (38 percent) or tablet (11 percent), generating roughly USD$514 million in online sales over that period.

With those kinds of figures, 2016 is the year for establishing a comprehensive mobile strategy. Retailers need to reconcile experiences across traditional and mobile-friendly webstores, and help customers easily navigate a transaction in a way that is sensitive to the nuances of their local market. This means taking into account payment options and currency preferences that allow consumers to buy on the fly.

2016 is bound to be filled with interesting and even surprising consumer activities that will continue to shape the climate for cross-border global ecommerce.  I’m excited to watch it unfold. 

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