Retailers must adapt to buying without borders – or risk getting left behind

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Buying without borders is the topic addressed today by Tony Preedy, Managing Director of Fruugo. As we exit the pandemic it’s time to start focussing on growth once again and global selling is essential to take full advantage of ecommerce opportunities.

If you’d like to discover more about Fruugo, watch their session at the recent 2022 Tamebay Live

Buying Without Borders

The internet has in many ways allowed the world to grow smaller. Trends in one country often spread rapidly online around the globe, meaning the pace of change in consumer demands has continued to speed up.

Also, thanks to the internet, retailers in one country are no longer constrained to only reaching locals. With the right platforms and tools in place, they can easily sell to customers all over the world. So how can sellers ensure they not only adapt to rapidly changing consumer tastes, but truly capitalise on the opportunities it offers?

The importance of inventory

While buying across borders was already mainstream prior to the pandemic, global lockdowns and unpredictable markets catalysed the mass shift towards shopping online, as well as driving consumers to be more attuned to what’s in the public consciousness than ever before.

As a result, today’s post-pandemic buyers are far savvier. Shoppers are increasingly finding and buying exactly what they need online, without thinking about who or where they are buying from. If they can’t find a product from one retailer, online searches will quickly reveal an alternative supplier that has stock, which with supply chains remaining disrupted by the Covid pandemic, are increasingly retailers in a different country to the shopper.

As such, agility and availability are now the key to winning the sale, meaning the rapid synchronisation of inventory with search engines is mission critical for effective retailing.

Keeping up with consumers

Data shows an increasingly rapid correlation between global events and product purchases. For example, when the pandemic first hit the Western world, there was mass demand for products such as masks and sanitizer, leading to shortages. In fact, hand sanitizer sales soared by 1,807% in the week ending February 15 2020 in Italy compared to the same week a year earlier while in the UK, hand sanitizer sales saw a year-on-year increase of 255% throughout the whole of February 2020

While populations reacting to a global pandemic come as no surprise, consumers have also reacted to cultural media phenomena like never seen before, amplified by time spent under lockdown. The Korean Netflix phenomenon Squid Game saw sales of white slip-on Vans shoes worn by the show’s main characters spike by a whopping 7,800%. Here at Fruugo, Squid Game cosplay outfits became the best-selling item on the global marketplace, illustrating the opportunities available for retailers who are equipped to instantly take advantage of trends and expand their audience on a global scale.

Pockets of demand for goods can occur from anywhere at anytime. A good example is the 2021 Olympics, which saw the arrival of several new sports like skateboarding to the competition. In the weeks that followed, Fruugo saw a 250% increase in the sales of skateboards, and a 102% increase in sports products in general, with demand for different products from various sports occurring in different countries around the world. Retailers able to ship internationally were able to capitalise.

Meanwhile,there are key dates that have long been in every retailer’s calendar, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Yet with the growth in cross-border selling, sellers can now maximise their brand awareness no matter where they are in the world. This year for example, Fruugo saw Sweden top its list of most romantic consumers, taking up over one-quarter (28%) of all its sales on all Valentine’s related gifts and items – yet the top-performing sellers to Sweden were across the globe in China and Singapore.

Simplifying cross-border selling

Selling across borders can sound like a very tall order as it requires resources and tools many sellers do not have to deal with the various complexities. However, cross-border selling has been enabled by the growth of digital marketplaces. In fact, the majority of cross-border online sales are now through these platforms.  

For sellers, marketplaces are a saviour as they can take on a lot of the technical work for sellers and help optimise marketing. For example, marketplaces are responsible in many jurisdictions for the calculation and remittance of sales taxes according to the type of goods and location of the customer. They also integrate with local payment providers, screen those orders for fraud, and take on the cost of currency conversion. And many go beyond simply facilitating transactions, they work on behalf of the retailer by actively marketing their products to generate sales from customers across global markets. Sellers then just have to organise to ship the parcels, made simple by the active market in international ecommerce logistics. While small and light items are still the most commonly traded type of goods across borders, even heavy and bulky items can now be shipped economically to neighbouring markets, making it possible and practical to sell most types of consumer goods internationally.

Furthermore, some marketplaces handle the translation of content into foreign languages, provide multi-lingual customer service and account management, capture funds using locally essential payment methods, localise pricing, as well as handling other cross-border issues such as local retail regulations.

Diversification is key

Today’s retailers cannot bank on just having one digital platform or route to market. To capture some of the booming market in cross-border transactions requires focus on generating more reach and visibility for their products. Marketplaces offer incremental sales from across the globe at a low marginal cost, and the more marketplaces sellers list on, the greater their total digital presence and the higher their overall sales. This diversification of channels to market also helps to reduce the risk created when they are dependent on one, such as sole reliance on Amazon.

Sellers of any kind must evaluate whether their digital marketing is sufficiently dynamic, flexible and global to take advantage of the massive ongoing trend towards globalisation of buying and selling – capitalising on the rising online demand for their products, wherever those customers are located.

For more tips on cross-border selling, be sure to check out Tamebay Live sessions here.

One Response

  1. Buying without borders is fine for countries that don’t have to deal with a botched brexit situation. If marketplaces are the “saviour” why does Ebay add fees to the taxes levied on sales, which sellers don’t even receive ????

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