As won’t have escaped any reader’s notice, these aren’t easy economic times. Yet a ray of sunshine, at least from the perspective of ecommerce professionals, lies in consumers’ enthusiasm for shopping online, whether that’s in markets that are comparatively underdeveloped or countries where online retail is morphing into cross-channel retail.
Nevertheless, the wider economic context still needs to be acknowledged. The eurozone crisis rumbles on to the extent it’s almost beginning to resemble the cold war, as an ‘always-there’ backdrop to day-to-day life. In the USA, as we write these words, the administration teeters on the edge of the fiscal cliff. Clearly, blithely assuming that ecommerce will continue to grow, be somehow recession-proof, is unrealistic.
It’s therefore been reassuring to put together this supplement and see just how many suppliers and retailers are grappling with issues around international and cross-border retail. Moreover, we have come across many real success stories. This is the third time we’ve looked at this subject and it’s clear the industry’s expertise has grown over recent years.
So where is the industry now? Firstly, it’s now almost routine for European etailers to sell to consumers in countries other than their own home territories. That’s not to underestimate the difficulties around such issues as payments, but best-practice approaches to get around these kind of issues are clearly beginning to emerge. Moreover, logistics and delivery companies have already developed huge expertise in terms of solving the practical problems around how to get goods to consumers.
The European ecommerce market is thus becoming increasingly competitive, but there are still huge rewards for those who succeed, especially away from mature ecommerce markets such as the UK.
Looking further afield, there are more demanding challenges to face as companies look to move into markets where the retail culture is sometimes dramatically different to Europe. Other factors play in here too: how do companies become ecommerce players in countries that seem to be largely jumping the fixed internet in favour of mobile? Will it ever be possible to breach the Great Fire Wall of China? Will British companies continue to be divided by a common language when they attempt to make gains in the USA?
The answers to these questions and many others besides are still unclear. But what is certain is that etailers aren’t shying away from these challenges. Instead, we’re beginning to see imaginative and even bold responses as ecommerce becomes ever more ubiquitous around the world.
International and cross-border ecommerce is a subject we expect to return to next year. We also expect to be able to report on a year of dynamic change and further growth, even with the chill winds of recession still blowing.
We’ve found this to be an interesting subject to write about, and we hope you enjoy this supplement. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts – do get in touch.