Navigating E-Commerce Channels: Are You Exploring International Waters?

September 11, 2014

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With the assistance of Redshift Research, we conducted the Multichannel E-Commerce Study with more than 200 respondents — US and UK retailers that already sell products online. Respondents were e-commerce decision makers at companies that averaged $3-5 million in revenue in 2013. The survey was intended to pinpoint e-commerce trends, as well as help identify opportunities and challenges in the online market.

Ah, the beauty of cross-border trade (CBT) — the seller on one side of the world and the buyer on the other. Products journey through miles, languages and climates to reach the awaiting customer in a matter of days.

Purchasing goods from another part of the world is essentially a streamlined process from the customer’s point of view. Let’s turn the tables and explore CBT through the eyes of a retailer.

Global Marketplaces

What’s the nucleus of international transactions? According to retailers surveyed, it’s not branded websites, brick-and-mortar retail partners overseas or direct mail. Global marketplaces are the number one point of sale for international transactions. In fact, 48% of retailers said that more than 20% of their online sales occur through international marketplaces. And among all marketplaces, survey respondents reported that Amazon presents the best opportunity to sell internationally.

Challenges and Opportunities

Cross-border trade involves multiple languages, currencies and cultures, making hurdles inevitable. In the survey, retailers admitted to experiencing growth challenges when expanding to international markets. The top three reported obstacles were shipping and logistics concerns (42%), regulations (33%) and currency issues (30%).

With all the global e-commerce transactions, certain regions are better for specific retail market opportunities. US retailers ranked the UK, China and Australia as the top three best regions for selling products internationally. UK retailers ranked the US, France, and Germany.

The survey statistics show that there is tremendous opportunity for retailers in international markets. It’s forecasted that CBT will reach $307 billion by 2018 — and there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. Tune back next week for an overview of how retailers are using digital marketing channels to increase brand awareness and revenue.


Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media and blog manager, ChannelAdvisor

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For a visual recap of our Multichannel E-Commerce Study results, check out our associated infographic.