Cross-border trading and the barrier to ecommerce
With the UK leading the way in online shopping generating €48bn in sales (with Christmas Day achieving record figures and Boxing Day proving to be the busiest online shopping day of the year) it’s little wonder that we have high standards when it comes to setting our sights on buying overseas, but what about our EU neighbours, why might they be so picky, they share a common currency after all?
What with the cost of postage and packaging and differing rules on returns, the average consumer doesn’t want to take the risk, wherever they may be. It does seem rather surprising, however, that countries with such close borders as France and Germany aren’t too keen on maximising on this proximity.
The fact is, that any cultural disparity makes all the difference. Any online marketing designed for a French audience, is not going to have the same impact on a German consumer. And similarly, the website’s design will also affect how each nation responds. Research by the same company, has also shown that online spending habits differ from nation to nation as does their expectation.
The UK, being such online shopping aficionados, is unsurprisingly found to be the least tolerant with a site’s loading time or search capabilities. Conversely, the French were found to be more laissez-faire, and therefore noted to have had a much more positive experience overall.
With the outlook for e-commerce looking bright across all borders how can we maximise on all these potential markets, and reduce the cultural divide?
There is unfortunately no simple answer. Packages have to get from one country to another, by plane, train or automobile and this costs money, which ultimately the customer needs to pay for. The solution so far has been to create localised warehousing in each territory to cope with local demand or, alternatively, if the brand has an offline retail outlet in a particular country, then shipping can occur from there. This does however cause complication and confusion with stock allocation and many retailers aren’t willing to take that extra step.
Interestingly, there is one sector that seems to be doing cross-territory shopping pretty well and that’s the luxury sector. With prices generally so high anyway, customers aren’t repelled by high shipping costs and in fact on many luxury sites, the brand offers standard rates for all countries outside the local base, even subsidising the shipping. After all, their mark-up is far greater than the average brand.
Ultimately, this is something that all sectors in e-commerce will need to address in the coming year.