With cross-border e-commerce brands anticipating higher than ever sales this peak season, here are four ways brands are managing increased demand.
Even with, or more accurately because of, the global pandemic, cross-border e-commerce businesses – particularly apparel brands – have seen record-breaking growth this year, with ESW forecasting up to during the holiday shopping period.
With shopper behavior changing, increasingly moving online due to the pandemic, and unlikely to return, successful cross-border e-commerce brands are optimizing their sites to provide the best possible experiences to their shoppers – especially for this peak season when demand and expectations are even higher than usual.
Here are four ways cross-border e-commerce brands are managing this unprecedented demand to offer an excellent shopper experience no matter where they or their shoppers are.
With the onset of COVID-19 and the subsequent periodic lockdowns, retailers really saw the benefit of omnichannel. Whether footfall was impossible due to restrictions, or shoppers had changed their behavior and were more comfortable shopping online, brands that embraced omnichannel were set up for success even through these difficult times.
Even before the pandemic, omnichannel was important for brands, with companies that had omnichannel retaining on average 89% of their customers.
In addition to providing online and offline buying opportunities, brands are flexible when it comes to purchase and collection so that shoppers feel comfortable managing their experience. Whether it’s providing standard and express delivery, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), curb side pickup, or click and collect, brands are providing a variety of options to shoppers to enable them to purchase with confidence.
M-commerce, or shopping on mobile devices, is set to reach US$2.91 trillion in sales in 2020 and with 67% of the global population owning a phone in 2019, and 79% of those making a purchase online, there is still scope for growth.
As smartphones become more ubiquitous and help change shopper behavior, and as shoppers now often start a shopping journey in-store before going online to order or vice versa, providing shoppers with the best m-commerce experience is imperative.
Brands that provide a seamless shopper experience on mobile aim to minimize clicks, offer autofill address forms, or address look up options, and offer express payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal Express which allows shoppers to pay more quickly with stored data.
Extended returns periods and multiple returns methods
During peak season and especially during a pandemic, shoppers want to be able to buy with confidence. Increasingly, shoppers often buy more than one of a product, e.g. two sizes of the same item, due to not being able to try on before purchase, and brands are accommodating these changes in behavior so that shoppers feel comfortable making the purchase, knowing they can return unwanted items if necessary
Shoppers want to be reassured that they have ample time and ability to return items that they bought that they want to return for reasons such as being the wrong size or not being what they anticipated – although proper photography and product descriptions will help to minimize those types of returns.
Encourage shoppers to buy early without risk
Peak season traditionally kicks off around a week before Black Friday and lasts until the end of the year. However, more and more companies are starting their peak season earlier and earlier in order to help cope with the increased demand on supply chain, logistics and website infrastructure.
To encourage early sales – particularly for shoppers who have been unable to physically view products – brands are removing risk by ensuring returns and refunds policies are clear and easily accessible. This encourages shoppers to buy knowing they can return goods if necessary.
Free delivery and returns have proven to increase conversions with 91% of consumers saying they would buy from a brand offering free shipping and 62% of shoppers wanting free returns and exchanges. To accommodate this in a short-term capacity, brands and retailers are offering this for a limited period or for once the shopper passes a threshold amount eg US$150.
Peak period is a lucrative time for cross-border e-commerce brands to take advantage of, but all aspects of the journey need to be working seamlessly together to provide the best shopper experience to customers – from website to possible returns and all touchpoints in between.
To maximize conversions for cross-border e-commerce brands, implementing omnichannel options, providing multiple methods of returns to make shoppers feel safe, and allowing for extended returns periods will all work together to provide the best shopper experience, and therefore help the customer feel comfortable shopping in these uncertain times.