An online retailer’s recipe for success usually involves the following steps: hire leading talent, choose the best eCommerce platform, and sell a hot product. But when it comes to expanding into international markets, things get more complicated.
Retailers are struggling to meet the demand of international customers, but they don’t have to go it alone. Having the right technology in place can alleviate the problem, but what kind of solution do retailers really need? To find out, we sat down with Borderlinx’s Chief Growth Officer Sébastien Dubuisson in Seattle, Washington. As the former Head of EU Buyer Product Marketing at eBay, Sébastien saw an underserved opportunity in the international eCommerce solution space. He joined Borderlinx in 2011 and has been dedicated to helping retailers reach global success ever since.
In our conversation, Sébastien discusses the gold rush opportunity of global eCommerce and how Borderlinx helps online retailers dominate international markets by taking a different approach to the customer checkout experience and fulfillment process.
How would you describe the eCommerce market today?
We live in an exciting time. Today we have access to everything online. With a single click, retailers can sell products to customers anywhere in the world. The accessibility has created a gold rush for retailers, but it places increasingly high expectations on them: Customers, regardless of location, expect an equal level of quality service. Domestic delivery is easy, but when shipping cross-border, retailers continue to face difficulties. For those already shipping internationally, problems tend to appear in two areas: the customer checkout experience and the cost of international fulfillment.
Let’s start with the customer checkout experience. Why is this an issue for retailers expanding internationally?
Retailers have to consider three things to create a successful checkout experience for international shoppers.
One, retailers should collect customs tax and duty charges from the customer at checkout, not just display them. This feature is called Delivered Duty Paid, or DDP, and it allows retailers to deliver orders on time without surprise fees for the customer.
Second, retailers need to consider customer payment. Accepting international and local payments will reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase profitability.
And three, retailers should maintain a branded checkout experience. All too often we see retailers redirecting their international checkout process to a cross-border vendor. Sure, this still allows the retailer to accept orders, but they’re breaking two of the most fundamental rules in eCommerce: reduce friction and never lose control of your customers.
Beyond checkout, you also mentioned fulfillment as an obstacle for retailers. Where in the fulfillment process do problems arise?
Up until recently, retailers were forced to ship international orders to an off-site fulfillment and export facility. It was a necessary step for many years that increased cost and added extra time to processing and delivery. Retailers had repeatedly told us that they would rather process orders from their fulfillment center, so Borderlinx set out to make that happen with the Go.Borderlinx® solution.
How does Go.Borderlinx® change fulfillment for international orders?
Our solution provides the usual suite of cross-border features, including guaranteed Total Landed Cost at checkout, customs collection and compliance, and package tracking. But unlike our competitors, our solution eliminates the need for an off-site export processing center. Retailers can ship directly to international customers because our technology works with the retailer’s existing eCommerce and WMS platforms. By managing international orders on-site, retailers increase profit margins and improve quality control because fewer hands are handling the product.
How does the Go.Borderlinx® solution make on-site fulfillment possible?
Our technology bridges the gap between domestic and international orders. The solution prepares and prints all required customs documents and shipping labels, eliminating the need to send orders to an outside vendor for processing before shipping internationally.
What makes Go.Borderlinx® different from other cross-border solutions on the market?
We built our solution from the retailer’s perspective. We focused on pain points and how we could solve them. Time after time, retailers told us they wanted to reduce operational cost by automating their systems, and they wanted to provide international customers with the same level of care that their domestic customers enjoyed. Our solution accomplishes all of that without disrupting a retailer’s existing eCommerce or fulfillment setup.
Where do you see eCommerce going in the next 10 years?
The next 10 years are going to be an exciting time for everyone. Technology has already started to blur the lines between domestic and international customer orders. Demand isn’t going to slow down. Cross-border sales are expected to grow 25% per year through 2020. That’s twice the pace of domestic growth.
Retailers need to move fast to capitalize on cross-border sales and can do so by providing customers with a few important features. Those leading the charge will offer complete price transparency with tax and duty and give customers reliable international shipping options with full tracking that includes proof of delivery. Anything less will lead customers to shop elsewhere.
What advice would you offer retailers looking to expand internationally?
The best approach is to look for low hanging fruit. First, retailers should identify their existing international traffic sources from English-speaking markets. Look at those that exhibit strong eCommerce savviness, markets such as Canada, the U.K., Australia or Europe in general. These markets are the easiest to penetrate without adding unnecessary complexity or cost.
From there, retailers can then focus on countries that require more complex localization efforts. The goal is to start working with what you already have to create easy wins. International expansion doesn’t need to be difficult. Work with the right partners and focus on the basics to get your foot in the door.