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London Business Matters

32 Your business February 2017 Brands need a 360° digital cross-border strategy Alexander Görtz takes a brief look at e-commerce in 2017 Predatory competition and shrinking margins in retailing are a constant driver of process optimisation. Effective concepts for digital structures in the digital arena are vital for business survival. Especially in the digital world of ‘everywhere commerce’, brands and retailers must be highly in-tune with their customers’ demands. Customer expectations in the e-commerce age are higher than ever owing to today’s transparency in the vast media landscape, as well as the integration of big data. It is not possible with yesterday’s methods to achieve a creative, successful customer experience that generates sales. Lifestyle Customers have long embraced the online lifestyle: second-screen and mobile devices are standard. This makes cross-border expansion essential for any sales strategy. Retailers need to be present on all Europe’s marketplaces. A successful cross-border strategy is a key component for an excellent customer experience. Just like China or the US, the economies of Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia feature digital marketplaces. They account for 54 per cent of total global e-commerce. Participation here is vital for any business. Brands with an ‘everywhere’ strategy in online business often achieve double-digit growth figures in Europe. Implementing an omni-commerce strategy on marketplaces such as Amazon, ebay, Zalando, Otto, Rakuten, cdiscount, bol – also outside Europe, Alibaba and TMall – is a condition for sustained growth. Mature The key indicators on Europe’s e-commerce market are excellent: sales are increasing, along with user numbers. There is plenty of scope for more business, above all in cross-border trade. E-commerce has come of age with mature, reliable systems and processes. This has transformed it into a major economic factor. B2C trade in Europe has already generated more than 2.5 million jobs, and 4.2 billion packages were shipped in 2015. This volume is set to double by 2020. Manufacturers or retailers with an existing e-commerce system, featuring a data hub (PIM), online shop, ERP/mail-order software and a CRM application, can easily take the next step to a successful cross-border platform. Firstly, the company decides on its target country, then tailors its range to the market. The usual time-to-market period is 3 – 4 months. “Don’t make me think!” sums up what customers want from the presentation of product data, content, media, attributes, description, price, packaging and service information. All this is vital to generate a clear buying impulse. Trust Data must be localised (navigation, category, topics, cross-selling, price, legal disclaimer/website information, general terms and conditions of trade, payments, etc.) to match the preferences and conditions of each country. This is crucial to building trust among customers. Advanced standard APIs (application programming interface), strong scalability and easy updating ensure an efficient integration process and smooth daily operations. Most transactions are on a CPO (cost-per-order) basis, ensuring that marketing, sales and controlling departments can permanently track selling costs. Customer-care competency is as integral to brand awareness as the product itself. It boosts customer loyalty and ensures successful customer relationship management. It is, therefore, essential to have an after-sales service in place, enabling customers to access support in the local language. Another important trust-building feature is a national returns address. Everywhere-commerce is perceived as trustworthy when it reflects the look and feel of the country’s way of life. Brand ambassadors Payment processes must be secure and bidirectional, and exactly reflect returns procedures. After a customer has finally accepted his purchase, he often acts as a multiplier by posting an evaluation on the marketplace and in social media. This turns customers into brand ambassadors, whether they are in the UK, Germany, France, or anywhere else in the world. All this is relevant for an effective long-tail touch-point strategy to optimise customer-lifetime value throughout the value creation chain. The key factor is how customers perceive the retailer. Alexander Görtz, is managing director of Innobrand eCommerce www.innobrand.co.uk Photo by Robert Scoble Photo by Coolcaesar “Brands with an ‘everywhere’ strategy in online business often achieve double-digit growth figures in Europe.”


London Business Matters
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