Cross-border e-commerce – online shopping on websites outside of your own country – is becoming increasingly popular. These days, so long as a site has been adapted to the consumer in question (language, as well as the offer, currency, services, etc.), they tend to be unaware of which country the products are from. In a report by Statista, international online sales will rise to 22% of total sales by the end of this year; a leap from 15% in 2016, on top of an expected annual growth rate of 27% from now to 2027.
Gaining new customers cross-border is obviously a great way to grow your business. However, it also means increased competition. Shipping is a key part of international shopping since, if there are no local warehouses, it can take days and necessitate changing from one courier to another. Coming up with marketing strategies that guarantee a good customer experience during the after-sale encourages future visits to and purchases from the website.
Increase turnover from cross-border sales by using a strategy that includes:
- Simplifying international logistics and reducing customer service costs: improve the experience of waiting for international deliveries.
- Customising post-shipment communications according to individual country and user.
Simplifying international logistics and reducing customer service costs
An increase in profits on cross-border sales is not possible without first reducing costs and optimising some processes in particular. Selling in various countries obliges you to use a number of couriers, international and local. International transport services are usually expensive, so it can pay to secure an international courier for shipments to a hub, and a national courier for domestic deliveries (sometimes the bigger transport companies offer these solutions).
To enable cross-border expansion, it is advisable to have a program which lets new couriers quickly connect and monitor shipments from a single panel. Labels can be printed and quickly applied to parcels, and all shipment information standardised on one screen and accessible to all countries. Software such as Qapla’ simplifies the entire process, making it much more sustainable to expand cross-border.
Couriers have their own language aside from the country’s language itself. Tracking updates are communicated in various (and sometimes unintelligible) ways. A parcel recorded as ‘delivered’ could also be ‘in transit’, ‘expected soon at destination’, ‘ready for delivery’, etc. This can be confusing for both the customer service team and the customer when they receive notifications from the couriers. A dispatch management program serves to clearly decode and standardise updates from multiple couriers. This simplifies and lessens the work on the part of the customer support team, who can access all of the data from one panel and are therefore in a better position to foresee potential issues or find information to respond to customer queries quickly and efficiently. All of this contributes to a net reduction in costs.
Regarding the customer, the centralisation of all data means that information can be communicated simply and clearly. For instance, should one courier be changed to another, the whole shipment history can be tracked from a single tracking page and the new courier and tracking number is recorded.
Logistically and operationally speaking – especially when expanding to certain countries, and with the intention of optimising cost – using warehouses abroad and outsourcing fulfilment and customer care services should be taken into account. In doing so, one starts out with more flexibility and fewer risks, instead of taking on new operators for logistics and customer service for international sales from the outset.
Improving the waiting experience in international shipping
A key part of cross-border e-commerce is the ‘localization’ of the shopping experience. This is not merely language, currency and advertising campaigns, but all communication related to shipping. We advise stepping away from courier dispatch software and setting up a marketing automation system which will send tracking notifications about shipment status, with your store recorded as the sender. These emails, SMS and WhatsApp messages have an open rate of more than 70%. These systems identify the destination country for the goods in question and set communication to that country’s language. In this way, the customer can easily process messages and any hassle associated with buying from cross-border is eliminated.
Consumers rate shipping notifications highly. In fact, according to MyCustomer, 82% rate proactive communication regarding order confirmation, fulfilment and various steps in the shipping process as important when it comes to repurchase decisions. As well as improving the shopping experience itself, the result is an average 54% drop in Customer Care hearing “Where’s my parcel?” Setting up an automatic customer notification system, thereby reducing the amount of international calls and messages, helps keep international customer care costs down.
Another strategy is to create a section on the website specifically for package tracking by inserting a script that allows dialogue with post-shipment software. Equally, a chatbot can retrieve tracking data for a fast response to customer queries.
All of the aforementioned goes a long way towards a positive experience when waiting for shipments, which affects customer loyalty on a grand scale and, as a result, turnover in the future. Ameritas reports that 60% of eshoppers would not return to buy from a website if they experienced a negative after-sales service.
Customise post-shipment communications according to country and user
If you already sell cross-border, you can conduct an analysis of which products sell best in certain markets and which have the highest margins for sourcing and shipping costs. If you are about to expand internationally, you will need to carry out surveys and market research on local trends and competitors. Using this data, there are opportunities for maximising sales opportunities, the shipping stage included.
Email, SMS and WhatsApp tracking notifications keep customers informed and help to alleviate any concerns and/or requests directed at Customer Care. They also play a part in e-commerce marketing and promotional strategies. Using templates for each target market, you can add, for instance, banners displaying the best-selling products or promotions for holidays in certain countries. In addition, with the knowledge that Northern European countries place more importance on environmental sustainability, communication with those countries can be customised with messages promoting initiatives to this effect or the environmental aspects of products or packaging. Similarly, if a country is renowned for having high customer service expectations, more importance can be given to contact times and channels.
Taking customisation a step further, scripts from tools such as recommendation tools can also be incorporated, allowing user products to be shown in line with specific preferences and past purchases. These tools are useful, even if you do not have data for preferences in a given market, as they are based on the history of each customer and processed by AI.
A complete post-shipment management platform such as Qapla’ also includes an editor for the creation of these email and tracking page templates. On top of allowing html input, it is a simple-to-use, drag-and-drop tool, and is compatible with all other external marketing tools (review services, cross-selling and upselling, support widgets).
Additionally, with regard to packaging: ensure that all vouchers, brochures and instruction manuals are in the customer’s language.