by Kevin Brown
March 25, 2019

In this blog post, we unpack our findings from The Cross-Border eCommerce Opportunity, a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Wirecard North America, and give you 5 tips for taking your e-commerce business global.

History lesson: The first ever online purchase (arguably) was completed in August 1994. Tech entrepreneur Dan Kohn sold a Sting CD to a friend in Philadelphia. We have indeed come a very long way in the quarter century since, but the latest e-commerce frontier shows us just how many possibilities still lie before us.

That frontier, of course, is the world.

Online Retailers: Covering New Territory

Although global e-commerce is hardly uncharted territory, cross-border sales represent the biggest opportunities and the greatest challenges for companies engaging in online retail. E-commerce sales worldwide are developing very dramatically and are expected to double between 2016 and 2020:

To tap into that market, retailers need operational and technological capabilities that can handle exponential growth in traffic and transactions. This is where things get really exciting – because it hits Wirecard’s sweet spot, where we’re prepared to help North American enterprises and worldwide reach the global market with the greatest ease and efficiency.

Recently, Wirecard North America commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 200 decision makers at midsize US companies about their capabilities, goals, and challenges around global e-commerce.

The retailers they talked to are well aware of what they want to achieve:

The survey also uncovered several factors that influence these retailers’ ability to play in the global space – among the biggest being compliance, security, ability to manage payment vendors, and customer service. In addition:

Key to e-commerce: balancing global and local – 5 tipps for success

Many of these insights point to a common factor that’s worth giving some special attention: localization. How do merchants handle multiple payment channels, currencies, and methods while providing a seamless yet personalized customer experience? Sometimes the answers lie in localized relationships and services; others come through mastering the data.

Let’s have a look at the five things to be aware of when planning your cross-border e-commerce solutions:

1. Partner with local networks

When a customer submits their payment information, it’s captured and encrypted by a payment gateway, which sends an authorization request to an acquiring bank, which then sends a request to the shopper’s bank to issue payment. If the gateway is not friendly with numerous acquiring banks around the world, the transaction will face friction, possible failure, and potential flags for fraud. Having a network of local banks can limit the cost of lost sales due to such obstacles. Wirecard’s solutions can process transactions across borders if volumes are small or dispersed across several countries.

2. Recognize local currencies

If the payment request is made in a currency that doesn’t match the issuing bank’s local currency, payments can, again, be delayed, denied, or flagged. On the other hand, banks that are a good match locally offer consumers the obvious benefit of being able to pay in their preferred currency. Rather than wait for a bank statement, they immediately understand the true cost. The right acquirer can accept any currency from the consumer (Wirecard handles 27 and counting), but settle transactions to the merchant in a currency of merchant’s choice. This is especially useful in industries such as travel, where consumers are literally coming from all over the world.

3. Control conversion fees

When a retailer receives settlement in a currency different from the currency a customer paid in, an FX (foreign exchange) fee is typically applied. The amount varies, and merchants can pass the fee on to consumers by building the FX rate into the displayed price in local currency. However, this can be avoided if you have local relationships for processing. In this case, there’s little need to worry about FX fees.

4. Simplify reconciliation

If a retailer is paid with multiple currencies into multiple banks around the world, reconciliation becomes very complicated. An experienced global payment provider such as Wirecard can produce consolidated transaction reports as well as intelligent data analysis of transactions by region, country, currency, and other factors – saving retailers time and enabling them to strategize and course correct as needed.

5. Optimize the user experience

Even if your payment flows are perfect, you still need a solid UX (user experience) to ensure an optimal customer experience. We’ve written about this elsewhere, but it bears repeating that your e-commerce design should be seamless across devices and be localized to the user’s region – by language, style, product selection, layout, art, and measurement/sizing systems. It all flows into the customer’s experience and into your overall operations.

Conclusion

By making the payment process seamless, offering local preferred payment methods, and tailoring the checkout experience to local preferences and customs, companies can win the trust of global customers and increase conversions. Harnessed effectively, data and technology can provide insights and tools to help boost brand awareness, revenues, and loyalty with customers all over the world.

Wirecard offers a single global platform which is a constantly expanding digital ecosystem of real-time value-added services built around innovative digital payments by using an integrated B2B2C approach. This ecosystem concentrates on the areas payment & risk, retail & transaction banking, loyalty & couponing, data analytics & conversion rate enhancement in all sales channels (online, mobile, ePOS).

Start preparing for 2020 and beyond – download a free copy the Wirecard-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting: “The Cross-Border eCommerce Opportunity: Harnessing the Complexities of Technology, Compliance, And Security to Reach Global Markets” or contact us.