When you’re running your own online business, it can be all too easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and lose focus on what’s going on in the wider world of online selling. But eCommerce is an ever-changing landscape and with the year half over, it’s the perfect time to step back and take stock of major trends shaping global eCommerce in 2017 and consider how you can capitalize on these opportunities for the second half of the year. Let’s run through the most promising developments and how you can use these opportunities to help grow your business.
1) The explosion in the Japanese market
A 2017 report estimates that Japan ended off 2016 with the second highest rate of digital penetration in the world, with 82.5% of internet users making an online purchase regularly, far outpacing the online shopping habits of US consumers. The same report also found that Japanese shoppers are less likely to buy from foreign marketplaces than many other shoppers around the world. While the demand is clearly out there for the ambitious seller who wants to increase their profits, the data indicates that online sellers wanting to tap into a hungry Japanese market need to use sites such as Amazon Japan and Rakuten, which dominate almost half of the local eCommerce market, to get in front of these active buyers. Luckily, lots of options exist for US sellers to ease their entry into selling in Japan. Get started by checking out this 7 step guide to selling on Amazon Japan.
2) Amazon sharpens focus on China
It’s no surprise that a major theme running through 2017 is global eCommerce and the Asian market is not one to be ignored by any US seller who wants to grow their business. The Chinese eCommerce market – the largest in the world – is expected to top $1.7 trillion by 2020, nearly 80% bigger than that of the US. Chinese consumers are also eager to shop cross-border for products that are either too expensive or too scarce locally according to the same McKinsey report. The Chinese government has also instituted changes that will formalize procedures around import and VAT for cross-border eCommerce, helping to simplify what previously felt like a daunting market for many US sellers and also ramping up demand for foreign products. 2017 is a great time to start selling into China.
Though the initial complexities of selling overseas might make some US sellers hesitate, the initial work pays off: a study on 2016 trends shows that 65.5% of retail professionals around the world agreed that cross-border eCommerce was profitable that year. If you push past complexities and get the right partners on your side, there is much to be gained from selling overseas.
3) UK shoppers regain confidence in online retail
The end of 2016 saw UK digital consumers engage in lower levels of cross-border purchasing behavior. But data coming out in May this year shows that UK retail sales for April smashed expectations, surging 2.3% and representing the biggest monthly rise since January 2016. This trend is one to watch out for and a great incentive for American online sellers to start selling into the UK if they haven’t been already to take advantage of UK consumer optimism and the uptick in retail behaviors.
In Europe generally, new rules that came into effect at the end of 2016 will help simplify European VAT laws for eCommerce businesses and will enable sellers to buy and sell goods more easily online. The newer, simpler VAT rules in Europe should make it less complex for online sellers to carry out business throughout Europe. The roll-out of these laws over the course of the 2017 will be a true game-changer for US sellers looking to capitalize on consumer optimism and the new regulations.
4) From third party selling to white label business
Reselling has tended to dominate the online selling market but this year has seen more and more online sellers starting their own white label businesses. Concerns about product authenticity and unauthorized brand resellers on Amazon have been hitting the news and the eCommerce giant has cracked down by instituting changes to protect consumers and give them greater confidence in what they’re buying. Through brand gating, brands and manufacturers now have more control over the list of resellers authorized to sell their products. Combined with a $1,500 selling fee for any new seller of a brand’s product, the restrictions have limited the ability of third party sellers to use others’ ASIN’s (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers).
The changes have prompted many third party sellers, even authorized ones, to start their own white label businesses. Though the start-up costs can be higher, sellers enjoy greater control over their business, from managing manufacturing and customs, to developing operations and marketing strategies. Working with many white label businesses, we frequently hear about the creativity and heightened sense of ownership that comes from creating and running your own brand, not to mention potentially higher profits than seen by resellers. Many of the white label sellers we work with source products from China, which is a great opportunity to build a product line with less start-up costs. If you’re considering this route, be sure to be aware of the benefits of working with a payments specialist instead of relying on your bank – you could save more money. Talk to your account manager at World First to see how you could also cut costs on supplier payments.
5) Demand for faster delivery
29% of consumers would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery, according to Forrester. How much time it takes for the consumer to receive a product once they’ve ordered it is becoming more critical in terms of customer satisfaction. While the trend originated with Amazon Prime, sellers that are able to manage their inventory, shipping and logistics with the greatest efficiency and speed stand to enjoy greater demand from consumers, turning shipping and logistics into a key differentiator among online sellers, particularly those selling internationally. Utilizing localized delivery centers can reduce waiting periods as well as the burden on the seller.
Aside from Amazon Prime, one marketplace that’s really driving this trend going into the second half of 2017 is eBay. eBay is getting ready to launch Guaranteed Delivery this July, a new shipping feature that is set to transform the way people purchase items on the marketplace by promising fast and reliable fulfillment of products, many of which ship for free. What’s more, buyers will be able to filter product searches based on guaranteed delivery days, potentially opting to show only those items that are guaranteed to be delivered in one, two or three days, all without the subscription requirement of Amazon Prime. This will be a game changer not only for sellers who are able to participate in eBay’s Guaranteed Delivery program, but might also drive back former eBay customers who have been lost to Amazon or Jet. Whether you’re selling on eBay or not, the trend toward faster, guaranteed delivery is set to be a key demand among customers this year and your ability to offer this might pull you ahead of competition. Here are some tips to get you started on finding a fulfillment company that can speed up delivery of your products if you’re selling internationally.
Have you ever wondered why the biggest names in the business world, like Uber, Facebook and Google, reached the highest stratospheres of success? They were at the forefront of major trends shaping consumer behavior that other companies ignored or failed to capitalize on to their own peril. Similarly, the world of eCommerce never stays static, and neither can you afford to. By keeping your eyes on the biggest movements shaking up 2017, you could position your online selling business for the greatest success.
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