Global Ecommerce

Paving the road to cross-border ecommerce

By Jennifer Bakunas, Vice President of Global Ecommerce Sales

We all remember last year’s viral customer service story of the negative call centre experience a customer had with a leading cable operator. It’s clear that when customer service falls short of the mark, the consequences have the potential to be incredibly damaging to an organisation.

This serves as a perpetual reminder that businesses looking to expand into cross-border ecommerce can’t afford to take a half-hearted approach to their customer service strategy. With the flood of customer engagement channels now available to consumers, it’s become an even more heated and competitive race for businesses to deliver and nurture a superior customer engagement experience that keeps their customers coming back for more.

There are numerous complexities that businesses need to consider before exploring a cross-border approach – multicurrency pricing and payments, customs duties and taxation, landed cost calculations and more. In fact, some retailers have seen the long list of challenges ahead and have given up before they’ve even started.

But retailers need not fear the road to cross-border. True, there can be some potholes. Yet, there are solutions that can help pave the way and get them to where they need to be. In fact, what they should fear instead is missing out on potentially significant growth opportunities abroad while maintaining existing market share at home as new international players begin to enter their backyards.

According to Digital Clarity Group, no matter where you are in your cross-border “maturity,” there are three mainstays for your roadmap to ensure you will provide a superior cross-border ecommerce experience:

1.       Localisation of content, product, and pricing

It’s true that English is commonly spoken and understood in many countries around the world. But when customers engage with a retailer, they’ll expect that from start to finish, they can use their own language for the purchase.. In addition to language, everything from visuals to pricing needs to be changed to align with the local customer’s expectations. An image that hits the mark and makes a connection for the customer in the U.S., could miss that mark entirely in another country.

2.       Payments, taxes, and fees

When a customer makes a decision to purchase, they want to know that there are no hidden fees that will creep up after the transaction has been completed.  . It’s important for retailers to consider solutions that will include all costs at the time of purchase – including duties, taxes, shipping fees, etc. , so the consumer is not surprised by another bill when the delivery service is at their door.  

3.       Customer support

Just like with domestic ecommerce, retailers can’t think that once the online purchase has been made, the relationship with the consumer is over. Businesses need to be ready and able to engage with their customers before and after the sale, in the customer’s native language, time zone and via their preferred channel.

It’s clear that for today’s retailers, the bar has been raised on the modern-day buying experience. Whether customers are making purchases in stores or online, businesses need to be ready to deliver their goods and services to them where they want it and when they want it. There is no single starting point or one true path to cross-border ecommerce success, but by developing a strategy and following some key steps, retailers can achieve cross-border maturity that works for their business. 

For more information on how consumers are buying online, download the Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study.

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