By Kayleigh Alexandra (Micro Startups)
The world of international e-commerce has changed hugely in recent years. As new technologies arrive and consumer tastes change, new industry transformations appear almost daily.
There is a myriad of international shopping trends within the industry today. Read on to discover five trends that you need to know about today.
Subscription e-commerce is dominating
There are many different business models open to online businesses today, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. But for a business model that caters to the growing consumer demand for convenience and personalization, look no further than subscription e-commerce.
For a fixed fee per month, customers can enjoy boxes of anything from chocolate to pet treats, tailored to their own tastes, and delivered straight to their front door.
The trend is truly international, and the shaving brand Harry’s is a fine example of this. Based in the US but with customers in more than 40 countries, Harry’s customers can keep themselves stocked no matter where they are.
But for businesses, perhaps the biggest allure of subscription-based services is security.
Rather than relying on unpredictable or irregular spikes in sales, businesses can expect regular, sustained sales month after month. While the profits might not be as high, in these financially unstable times, the surety of such a model is far more attractive for brands.
Artificial intelligence-fuelled customer service
The development of artificial intelligence (AI) has fuelled some of the most fascinating and beneficial advances in the world of e-commerce. It has been implemented in a variety of ways already from customized product recommendations for customers to product development for brands. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
One particular application of AI for international e-commerce are chatbots. Virtually every online business has a chatbot of some form, an AI-powered bot capable of taking orders, resolving queries, checking order statuses, and more. And they’re easy to make too — companies like LivePerson provide easy-to-use chatbots that work for a variety of industries.
Chatbots provide convenient 24/7 customer service for customers from all over the world. In a digital age in which brands are increasingly borderless, the ability to be always-on and always-open is crucial for online businesses.
International expansion isn’t just for big brands
International e-commerce is no longer something exclusively afforded to big brands with a big reach. Even the smallest of online stores are capable of breaking into international markets. There are plenty of success stories of solopreneurs making it big on the global market.
But with big ambitions come big demands on businesses. Having the infrastructure to support such expansion is vital for sustained international growth. A good e-commerce platform should provide merchants, both small and large, the tool to scale in this way.
Take the enterprise platform Shopify Plus, for example — the platform has pioneered international e-commerce within the industry and with good reason. It combines a robust platform that integrates with global-ready solutions and provides local currencies, country-specific content, and so on.
In short: in order to sell worldwide, you have to think worldwide — you need to walk the walk. A solid e-commerce platform builds international scalability into its offering and fosters growth beyond your borders.
Multichannel is a necessity for maximum profits
The face of retail has undergone considerable transformation over the years. Where brick-and-mortar stores once dominated, today they have all but been replaced by e-commerce, and are closing rapidly at an alarming rate. While they still play a role in the retail experience, e-commerce is king.
But even e-commerce is changing. Today, e-commerce is not one, but several different channels. There is now a growing number of touchpoints through which brands can interact with and sell to customers, both online and offline. This multichannel approach gives businesses a wider scope to increase leads and conversions.
This is primarily down to consumers’ changing shopping methods. Older generations are happy to shop in online stores, while younger generations look to social platforms such as Instagram for their purchases.
Multichannel caters to this disparity. By selling where customers are, you can enjoy a wider reach and greater profits as a result.
Impatient consumers demand faster (and free) shipping
The rise of e-commerce has led to increased competition for businesses in every industry. Most major businesses maintain an online store offering highly competitive prices that make for a buyer’s market.
Consequently, online retailers have to search for other ways to help them stand out against their competition. One particular method of doing this is through shipping. Indeed, delivery and shipping logistics is one of the key differentiators between online stores today.
Around 75% of US consumers point to free shipping as a factor that sways their purchasing decisions online, no small number. And the time that people expect to wait for their package with free shipping has shortened too, down to 4.5 days from 5.5 in 2012.
You can expect to see more and more online brands offer quicker shipping at competitive prices in 2019. And with many businesses leaning on drones for their delivery service, there will be even more flexible options to come.
E-commerce is perpetually changing. Trends come and go, tastes alter daily, and new technologies are being explored. The trends highlighted above are just five of many, and it’s worth keeping your eye on the horizon. Know international shopping trends, and you’ll position your business better in 2019 as a result.