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How to re-platform for cross-border ecommerce success

By Retail Technology | Thursday September 15 2016

Nir Debbi, co-founder and CMO at Global-e, on the importance and key considerations of re-platforming for cross-border ecommerce business

Re-platforming is part and parcel of selling online and scaling up a growing ecommerce business. As sales volumes grow, consumer behaviour and expectations change, and new technologies emerge, re-platforming is an essential part of staying competitive, scaling up, and keeping customers happy. However it’s also an expense that retailers often delay until it’s really urgent. According to Forrester, almost one in five retail execs said re-platforming is now a top priority for their business. Beyond merely revamping the online customer experience, re-platforming also offers an opportunity for savvy retailers to seize new opportunities, such as unfulfilled demand from overseas shoppers.  
By the end of this decade, it’s predicted that the cross-border ecommerce market will account for some $1 trillion in sales globally, offering retailers a chance to drive international growth and harness new sales opportunities overseas. However, converting international website traffic into cross-border sales can be easier said than done. In order to increase conversion rates, online retailers must offer overseas shoppers the same localised and personalised experience offered to domestic customers.

Key things to consider when re-platforming:
Map out your business goals

Before launching straight into a re-platforming project, it’s important to carefully map out your business goals for the next few years. An independent consultant can provide good counsel on this and help you to avoid making the expensive mistake of picking a platform that is difficult to manage, will quickly become outdated or is simply wrong for your business.
Avoid approaching re-platforming solely as a technical process

While this is a technical project, retailers should avoid the temptation to approach re-platforming solely from the perspective of what can be improved technically. It’s important to also think about the process from the perspective of the customer. Reviewing what works well for them and, more importantly, what doesn’t, will help you to identify key areas for improvement.
Retailers should aim to create an online experience that is visually appealing, easy-to-use, and consistent across multiple channels and devices. Beyond this, it’s important to give thought to the sale and post-sale experience. For example, only accepting a small number of payment methods can be off-putting to customers, especially if a shopper is not able to buy something after going through most of the checkout process because a certain payment method isn’t available. In fact, research suggests the average cart abandonment rate is still high worldwide, at 74.3%. Faced with challenges such as this, retailers must work with platforms that can rapidly adapt to the pace of change in consumer behaviour when it comes to online shopping preferences.
Be reactive to consumer demand

With consumer expectations rapidly changing, think about how you can go above and beyond what international shoppers expect today so that you’re able to comfortably deliver what they will expect in the years ahead. For instance, consumers now expect to be offered a variety of different delivery methods, from express delivery through to more cost effective shipping, with transparent pricing. Just a short time ago many retailers offered only one or two options and surprised shoppers by adding a delivery charge at the last minute. The same can be said about payment methods. It wasn’t unusual to come across an online retailer than only accepted PayPal or debit cards as the primary payment method just a few years ago.
How can retailers get more out of re-platforming?
To make the most of cross-border ecommerce opportunities, retailers must ensure they offer local payment methods, a wider choice of delivery options, local returns, and local pricing in local currencies, with full delivery costs and tax included. However, these things will not come intrinsically when upgrading or implementing a new platform, nor are they easy to manage on a day-to-day basis. Retailers looking to harness global growth opportunities when re-platforming must focus on a number of technical issues together with the need for market knowledge and marketing support. By localising the ecommerce experience for international shoppers, retailers can begin to capitalise on oversees traffic almost immediately, growing sales and enhancing the customer experience.

Retailers don’t necessarily need to wait until their next re-platforming project to take advantage of the growing cross-border ecommerce market. By working with a specialist partner, retailers can enhance their existing web platform to better cater to cross-border shoppers, generating those all-important ‘quick wins’ in international markets and enabling them to capitalise on oversees traffic almost immediately.

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