Retailers still coming to terms with the mass exodus to online shopping triggered by COVID-19 and eager to ‘Go Global’ to gain a share of the $4.2 trillion Global ecommerce market can now access practical first-hand advice from SEKO Logistics, eCommerce solution provider, Shopify Plus, and integration platform, Patchworks.
The three market leaders have joined forces in a new ‘Go Global’ webinar which helps merchants learn from the success of other businesses and answer critical growth questions such as:
- How have fast-growing merchants successfully scaled internationally?
- How can you map out the future of your ecosystem?
- What are the first steps for a growing brand to expand internationally?
- What investments are necessary to ‘get the click’?
- How quickly can you recover ROI?
- How important is it to enable checkout in local currencies and preferred payment methods?
- Does ecommerce localization increase conversions?
- When selling internationally, what are the big markets to start with?
- What are some fast-growing markets that brands may not originally think of?
- How has the ecommerce market been impacted post-Brexit?
As Global lockdowns forced traditional ‘brick and mortar’ retailers to physically close shop, the last 12 months have seen an acceleration of the already-strong year-over-year growth in ecommerce. Worldwide ecommerce retail grew 27.6% in 2020 and is forecasted to see a further 14.3% growth, or an additional $611 billion, of new transactions in 2021, according to research by eMarketer. International ecommerce sales are now on track to reach $6 trillion in 2024, it says.
Over 100 companies in the UK, Europe, the United States and Australia registered for today’s first ‘Go Global’ webinar to hear experts from SEKO Logistics, Shopify Plus and Patchworks give their interpretations of changing consumer behaviors, the available opportunities, and advice on how to enter and scale in new markets.
“Ecommerce thinking has literally accelerated 5-10 years in the last 12 months,” says Brian Bourke, Chief Growth Officer at SEKO Logistics. “This acceleration has created many questions for businesses that want to benefit from this outstanding growth opportunity, but also brings to light the importance of creating a sustainable and scalable solution. Merchants are definitely more ecommerce savvy, and with our partners Shopify Plus and Patchworks, our aim is to mentor companies in an ecommerce landscape that seems to be changing by the month.”
Adam Finan, Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus, says mapping out the customer journey is absolutely key. For companies just starting out on their global eCommerce journey, he advises: “Consider it from a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) solution first and how you’re going to approach it. If you’re going to have a single store, make it localized for currency and payment methods as quickly and easily as you can to test the market, and export into it with the help of a logistics partner who’s on the ground and knows the market nuances. Also, make sure you talk to other merchants who’ve done this already.”
For businesses new to internationalisation, David Wiltshire, Managing Director at Patchworks, says it’s important to remember ‘you’re not alone’. “Identify subject matter experts who can guide you to the best solutions, understand your Global ambition, the volumes you’re expecting, and the countries you wish to trade in. Remember there are really defined categories now, in terms of software, to help make up your ecosystem, whether that’s ecommerce, returns, re-commerce or Global 3PLs. Make sure you’ve identified the systems you need immediately and the categories that need to be filled in your business. Be aware of the software you can add to build that fantastic customer experience throughout every transaction and interaction.”
The webinar offers insight into markets with the lowest barriers to entry, preferred payment methods in different countries, opening local fulfilment centers, the importance of data visibility as business grows and companies enter new markets, and key questions to ask partners in your ecosystem to ensure they have the network, systems capability and niche market experience to match your business plan. Go Global also provides a recent update on overcoming the hurdles facing merchants post-Brexit.
The rapid growth in online orders exacerbated by the pandemic means merchants and logistics companies have needed to pivot quickly to manage growth in ecommerce sales. “The impact on logistics and the shift away from retail to ecommerce is pretty far-reaching,” said David Emerson, Global Senior Vice President, Ecommerce at SEKO. “Historically, the retail inbound supply chain has been built for selling product in stores. If the product is no longer going from warehouse-to-store, the pressure point becomes the warehouse, or further up the chain. The traditional Gobal supply chain moved left to right - if the factory was on the left and the consumer on the right, everything moved in a relatively straight line. It no longer works like that because now there’s drop-ship, multiple sources, and multiple demand worldwide; and that’s difficult from a pure logisticians’ perspective to manage. It requires a lot of planning and collaboration with the various stakeholders in each supply chain.”
Adam Finan addresses another key consideration: “Returns are an often overlooked part of the entire buying cycle, but this touches everywhere, from the product page, where people are looking for the information at that point, right to the price of the return; is it free to return, will they have to go to the post office, or are they going to be able to have a return collected at their house? The customer journey and buyer experience can be greatly affected by the returns policy, but it differs by industry. Ultimately, every ecommerce business deals with returns, so you want to make them easy, but you need to remain profitable too.”
This emphasis, however, is also shifting for merchants. “Re-commerce is moving at pace,” David Emerson added. This is the model more and more businesses will want to adopt. We are already working with some interesting partners which do not send back any cross-border returns. Instead, these are being reprocessed and resold in the market where they ended up. This produces sustainability benefits and has a positive impact on cost and margins, especially in intercontinental markets like the US and Australia. Clients want us to find a way to resell for them and to help turn a cost into another revenue channel. SEKO plans to be at the forefront of this trend.”
One business already enjoying the growth benefits of going global is Vivo Life, which partnered with SEKO and Shopify to Globally scale its 100% plant-based health and fitness supplement business. The result, according to Vivo Life co-founder Salvatore Notaro, is a ‘more sensible price and a better delivery’ which also upholds VIVO Life’s aims to achieve the most positive impact on both people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and the planet. After starting out with a team of five, VIVO Life now employs 76 staff and has recently achieved £1 million of sales in a month. They are now developing a growth plan to increase its annual sales by a further 75%.
On the webinar, Salvatore explains VIVO Life’s journey, how the company has managed growth challenges, tipping points, and how they have has successfully multiplied the lifetime value of customers.