eCommerce may be nothing new, but its evolution has made it a more viable arm of the global retail strategy. Global sales in 2014 reached $839 billion, and eCommerce sales in 2015 are predicted to hover just under a trillion USD. Many markets such as Mexico are rapidly expanding. Others like China are seeing a growing demand for western goods to satisfy their increasingly-wealthy middle class.
Overall, the changes in the recent global eCommerce market have been a lot to take in, so here is a summary of the most salient developments currently at play on the worldwide retail eCommerce stage:
Brick-and-Click Helps Big Brands Cash In
Hundreds of short-sighted journalists were prematurely sounding the funeral bells of brick and mortar commerce. While many retail chains like Borders Books & Music have been forced to close their doors, others have adapted. Gigantic retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Wal-Mart have regained traction while competing for market share in the online landscape. Their strategy of offering two similar buying experiences with two different ways for customers to get the products they love has proved a rousing success.
Options like in-store pickup, specialty online-only products and in-store only sales has effectively captured multiple segments of the online and in-store market. Sophisticated digital marketing strategies and advanced in-store journeys via beacon technology all meld the digital and physical shopping into one seamless experience.
On the flip side of big-box and department store giants finding success online are eCommerce brands like Amazon and Singapore-based Zalora opening up physical store chains in select markets. Other brands like U.S. eyewear designer brand Warby Parker are jumping into the physical retail scene with high anticipations. They now have 18 stores open in major markets around the U.S.
Finding a Niche Abroad
Another major trend is that many retailers are trying to solidify their popularity in newly-expanded markets. Williams-Sonoma started out as a combination boutique houseware store and catalog purveyor. Growth of their online sales has led to the brand establishing a firm presence in many other global markets. They now have full-scale eCommerce sites designed from the ground up to appeal to a particular country’s cultural and linguistic sensibilities, with unique sites for Australia and the U.K. and with eyes on an expansion to Mexico.
Similarly, British fashion and beauty retailer ASOS realized that there was a significant demand for their products in Russia. They responded by assembling a dedicated team to help them cater to the needs of the Russian market with images, language and phrasing that resonated well with their 20-29 age group demographic.
China has shown a particularly voracious appetite for foreign goods. While globally 77 percent of consumers have bought an electronic good online and 76 percent have bought a fashion or apparel product online in the past three months, those same numbers in China were 96 percent and 97 percent, respectively. In total, China is becoming the biggest market for eCommerce goods in the world, only rivaled by the U.S.’s consistent year-over-year growth.
Another important trend to take note of is the growing presence of countries not normally considered to be lucrative eCommerce markets. Mexico stands out in particular. Nearly half of all Mexicans now have regular internet access, and two-thirds of regular online users are making eCommerce purchases. Online sales in 2014 increased by 32 percent compared to 2013, with over $6.6 billion in sales.
Spain, Austria, and Saudi Arabia similarly are increasing their visibility within the global eCommerce market. Increasingly fluid shipping procedures and more secure online payment verifications are opening up markets in these countries to eCommerce retailers across the globe.
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