The 12 Most Important Trends in 2019 for International Retailers: Part 4

22 October, 2019

Is there a better time to be involved in e-commerce? Worldwide e-commerce sales are forecast to exceed $3.5 trillion this year, an increase of 18.5% from 2018

It’s also estimated that there will be 1.92 billion global digital buyers this year. The explosive growth of e-shopping has led to more and more businesses setting up online, resulting in fierce competition. Asendia recognises that, for webshops to make it in today’s retail environment, they need to absorb the latest developments and move in the same direction as the market. That’s why we stay on top of international e-commerce trends and help brands take part in global e-commerce growth.

To guide you to greater success, we’re presenting the 12 most important trends for today’s international retailers. In this final part, we explore the importance of customer experience, the popularity of chatbots, and the implications of Brexit for e-tailers.

  • CX is everything

    While customer experience (CX) has always been a key element of any successful business, never before have customers been so discerning or expectations so high. The ongoing rise of e-commerce and the widespread use of smartphones has created a landscape in which customers expect a fuss-free shopping experience with plenty of choice and products that are easy to find and quickly delivered. Anything less will see them head elsewhere.

    Great CX is the result of every interaction your customers have with your business, from how easily they can navigate your site and find what they want to how quickly their goods are delivered.

    Companies that put the customer at the centre of everything invariably gain increased customer lifetime value and higher sales generated through positive reviews and recommendations. It’s a proven business principle that’s relevant to organisations of all sizes; a recent report identified global brands that experienced dramatic turnarounds in their fortunes by investing in CX, including Starbucks, Microsoft, Domino’s, and Adidas.

    The key term when working on CX is ‘frictionless’: the idea is to make it easy, almost effortless, to work with your brand.. Save your customers as much time as possible, and you will be rewarded with their loyalty.

    Tips to stay ahead:
    Make sure communication channels are in place so customers can feed back on what is causing friction in the CX you provide. Prioritise listening to your customers and responding quickly; this should be part of your strategy in analysing and measuring your CX, and using the outcomes to improve your overall brand experience..

  • The rise of chatbots

    The way customers connect with e-commerce companies has been changing rapidly, with the need to train customer service teams in telephone skills making way for email communications and social media coaching.

    Not only are online retailers realising the benefits in chatbots, but customers too: an industry report found that 64% of respondents consider 24-hour service to be their most important advantage, followed by instant responses (55%).

    Chatbots date to the very beginnings of AI and are currently being used in a variety of e-commerce contexts, ranging from online customer support to intelligent personal assistance. They can increase sales through offering product recommendations and completing buyers’ purchases. And, of course, they’re highly efficient and cost-effective in comparison with many traditional forms of customer service.

    ‘Conversational commerce’ is here to stay. As technology advances, so will the dexterity and effectiveness of talking, interactive software for retail purposes. Adopt it now, and save your business time and money.

    Tips to stay ahead:
    Building a virtual talking robot may seem like an impossible task to most e-tailers, which is why there are many businesses out there that offer industry-specific, pre-built bots that are easy to implement and customise. These businesses allow you to create your own online solution and analyse the conversational data too for continuous improvement.

  • The impact of Brexit

    The UK is due to leave the European Union on 31 October, with the impact on domestic e-tailers and international sellers expected to be significant; this is especially true if the UK leaves without a deal, the possibility for which the UK government is currently preparing. Even if the UK enters into a customs union with the EU, businesses will experience serious disruptions in cross-channel trade, since all goods will have to pass customs and product-conformity procedures, resulting in longer waiting periods for consumers expecting deliveries.

    Changes to tax is a major concern. Indirect taxes, such as VAT, are harmonised at EU level. While there is no practical chance that it will be abolished, the UK will have new freedom in formulating future VAT policy, which will affect retailers. The luxury of free trade with the EU is set to be taken away, so e-commerce sellers importing goods from the EU or selling to customers in the EU will probably see tariffs and additional taxes on goods. Many important pieces of EU legislation affect e-commerce, such as the Consumer Rights Directive and GDPR, so businesses will need to be kept up to date with how the UK manages these.

    Online businesses may experience difficulties post-Brexit, or even an upturn in sales as some sources predict. At the time of writing, no one knows. The best course of action would be to work with an e-commerce expert who has the latest information on changes to customs, tax, and duties to help you confidently prepare for the future.

Asendia helps retailers around the world achieve their business goals by making international e-commerce as simple and straightforward as possible. We can provide you with everything you need to grow your company in new destinations, including tailored delivery solutions, Premium Partnerships, and essential advice through an in-depth consultative approach.

To discuss how Asendia can offer you efficient, customer-focused mail and parcel services for a range of destinations, simply contact us today, or read the third part of this series, in which we explore Google updates, using influencers, and selling to new markets.