This post is sponsored by Loqate, a GBG Solution.
The rise in retail technology has transformed the global exchange of goods and services. With unprecedented access to new markets, retailers of all sizes can reach customers no matter where they are in the world. The growth of emerging markets, coupled with advancements in mobile, logistics, retail technology and data intelligence have opened the door to cross-border commerce, but as competition increases retailers are pressured to implement a global framework as soon as possible to ensure success.
The cross-border challenge
So what can retailers do to successfully go global and make their way to the top of the international retail rankings? The recently released Retail Internationalization Index report, an analysis of global retail strategies compiled by Planet Retail RNG, Retail Week and Loqate, a leader in location intelligence, leveraged international retail data to determine the most successful retailers in terms of global presence and customer-centricity.
Retailers looking to go international face a host of challenges from rapidly evolving technology, volatile economies and competition from big industry marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba. Loqate’s report identified the top 30 global retailers based on more than 70 attributes and strategies ranging from digital capabilities and global partnerships to raw numbers like non-domestic sales, international locations and projected global growth. According to the report, some of the most successful retailers struggle to deliver the same seamless journey in international territories as they do domestically. To remedy this, retailers can offer think-global-act-local solutions like flexible payment and foreign currency options that support a positive global purchasing journey. Other globally driven features include foreign language translation, locally responsive web experiences and verification technology to ensure goods and services reach customers everywhere.
While innovations in shipping and logistics have played pivotal roles in global e-commerce, deliverability still remains a major risk when entering new markets. The issue affects about 4.7% of US deliveries, 5.6% of UK deliveries and 4.6% of German deliveries, according to Loqate’s recent Fixing Failed Deliveries report. The consequences of delayed and lost packages not only result in financial burden, but also affect brand loyalty, reputation and customer experience. One of the most frequent causes of delivery failure involves poorly collected location data. Data collected at online checkouts and in-store POS systems is not always reliable – and that’s where tools like address verification come in. By leveraging global location data, retailers can improve operational efficiencies, package deliverability and ultimately customer experience.
At the end of the day, the Internationalization Retail Index found that by combining the right tools and a great customer experience, retailers can tackle these challenges head-on – and succeed.
From challenges to opportunities
Retailers looking to succeed in today’s digital world should strive to establish unified e-commerce strategies that provide customers with a frictionless shopping experience regardless of which channel they use to shop.
Mobile is especially important in regions where smartphone adoption leapfrogged traditional methods of accessing the internet. Regardless of where they are in the world, shoppers want to locate, purchase and return products using the device of their choice. Mobile technology transcends physical and digital shopping environments by enabling customers to make purchases from their devices, locate items using visual search, compare prices from multiple retailers or support in-store shopping with location-based technology, push notifications and barcode scanners. The Internationalization Retail Index found that in order to be successful, mobile apps need to generate additional value for the customer. This comes in the form of loyalty rewards, location-based shopping suggestions, store locators, digital account management and digitized receipts.
While many retailers looking to offer a seamless mobile experience still struggle with security, payment processing and localized internet issues, optimizing websites for mobile devices in lieu of a native app, in addition to leveraging mobile security tools, can help offset risks while engaging mobile shoppers in new markets.
Tapping into scalable technology is important – it can help retailers cut costs and avoid regulatory issues that come with expanding physical store counts, franchising, acquisitions and other traditional methods of international expansion.
Gaining a deeper understanding of global customer locations is a vital part of successful internationalization. By collecting accurate location data during checkout and onboarding, retailers can leverage the data to power personalized shopping experiences and localized services.
Adding to logistics networks by establishing distribution centers in foreign markets can also put retailers ahead of the competition. International distribution not only expands their reach for online deliveries, but can also increase retailers’ abilities to offer premium delivery services including click-and-collect or free returns. German retailer Zalando has invested in a strategy that pairs large automated facilities in its domestic market with smaller distribution centers throughout the rest of Europe in a bid to offer same-day delivery to as many locations as possible.
“The lesson here is that focusing on international distribution and creating a strong global presence pays off,” according to the report. “However, retailers must carefully select the expansion method most appropriate for their business to achieve strong results.”
To learn more about the strategies featured in Loqate’s Internationalization Retail Index report, don’t miss the International Retail Index webinar on July 18 featuring a panel of retail experts including Ian McGariggle, chairman of World Retail Congress and co-founder of Retail Week; Robert Gregory, global research director at PlanetRetail RNG; and David Green, managing director of location intelligence at Loqate, a GBG solution.