After ruling the eCommerce world for more than ten years, the United States is now the second largest eCommerce country in the world. Still an accomplishment, and still a world of opportunity.
Led by the online giants Amazon & eBay, the U.S. observes a healthy eCommerce growth in all sectors and boasts an annual $340 billion in online sales.
However, eCommerce sales account for just 8% of total retail sales in the US and 14% in the UK , so there’s still copious room for growth. Yay for me. Yay for you!
For generations, consumers who wished to purchase something went to the store which they were able to find by just looking for its sign (no GPS, no Google).
It’s redundant to say that times have changed, and you already know that the internet has dramatically affected the way people shop and interact with businesses.
In the same way that eCommerce has forever changed the way people shop and interact with business, international eCommerce is changing the way businesses market and position themselves for growth.
So what are some of the things that small businesses should know about setting up a successful, global eCommerce operation?
Who is Buying?
• Income: 70% are mid- to high-income earners
• Age: Most are between 35-54 years old
• Of the younger buyers, 40% of US males aged 18-34 say they would 'ideally buy everything online, compared to 33% of females in the same age bracket.
• The greatest prevalence of cross-border shopping is in Ireland (79 percent), Austria (78 percent) and Israel (71 percent)
• According to Mckinsey.com, by 2025, the global consuming class will grow by 75% to a total of 4.2 billion people.
Why People Buy Internationally
The two top reasons for buying online from an international seller are to “save money” (80% of respondents), followed by “more variety that cannot be found locally.” (79%)
About 73 percent of surveyed respondents cite better pricing as a key reason to make an international purchase.
It’s also interesting to note that 50 percent of respondents say free shipping is a potential motivation for cross-border shopping. 47 percent of them say delivery costs prevent them from making international purchases regularly.
What Are They Buying?
The top cross-border online shopping categories are:
• Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories (US$12.5bn)
• Health and Beauty Products (US$7.6bn)
• Personal Electronics (US$6.0bn)
• Computer Hardware (US$6.0bn)
• Jewelry, Gems, and Watches (US$5.8bn)
How Much Are People Buying?
• 53% of global internet users have made an online purchase in 2016 - approximately 1 billion people.
• B2B eCommerce sales are expected to outgrow B2C sales, reaching 6.7 trillion USD by 2020.
• Total average eCommerce spend per customer over the course of the year is estimated to be $1,800 in the US and 1,600 in the UK.
In eCommerce, it’s essential to know the trends and preferences of complex, nuanced foreign markets.
For example, China’s growth is so rapid that total eCommerce sales there are expected to double between now and 2019, adding $1 trillion dollars worth of additional sales in just three years!
A survey conducted by Pitney Bowes, a global technology company, found that while people in most foreign markets prefer to buy apparel and footwear in person, Chinese consumers are more likely to buy these items online.
Understanding where consumers are buying and how much they are willing to spend is critical. For instance, online retail sales are highest in the U.K, China, Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Denmark; and are estimated to lead sales into 2018.
Expanding into these countries would likely be most profitable for businesses. Equally important, businesses need to know how much consumers are willing to pay for each product, in order to stay competitive in local markets.
Consumers in different countries also prefer different payment methods. In Japan, for example, over half prefer to make credit card payments when buying online, but in Germany approximately 70% prefer Direct Debit and Bank Wire Transfer.
What does Social Media have to do with international eCommerce? Just about everything!
Did you know that:
• 71% of consumers change their perception of a brand after seeing a positive response to a review on social media.
• Conversions increase 133% when mobile shoppers see a review that is positive before making an eCommerce purchasing decision.
• Social traffic has increased by at least 357% compared to a couple years ago, demonstrating unprecedented growth.
• 74% of consumers use social networks to make a purchasing decision.
• 65% of consumers rely upon social media to find an ideal gift for a loved one.
• 50% of social purchases occur within a week of sharing the item on a social platform.
• Source: ReadyCloud.
The growing phenomenon of social media influencers and referral systems acts as a channel between the world of social platforms and international eCommerce.
Influencer marketing is the best way to do social media eCommerce, hands down. Why not associate your business (andproduct or service) with tens (if not hundreds) of influencers who are already talking to (and are more trusted by) the right customers?
Influencer marketing drives sales, regardless of attitudes towards purchasing through social media, because customers don’t feel as if they’re purchasing through social media.
Customers feel like they’re taking the advice of someone they trust. This is third-party validation at its finest, with staggering conversion rates: https://www.tapinfluence.com/influencer-marketing-statistics/
In the second part of this blog, I will dive in-depth on how you can overcome your customers’ fears associated with buying online internationally, how to optimize your shipping process and use subscription services to maximize your eCommerce consumers. Reach out to us today if you have any question on international eCommerce.