In a global commerce world increasingly dominated by international marketplaces, e-commerce now plays a critical role in the way brands and retailers market and sell their products. But as commerce dynamics have changed to include direct-to-consumer channels, private-label retail and digital native brands, global brands and retailers are actively testing and implementing new business models and partnerships to stay competitive in this increasingly complex landscape.
A new study released today by the Global E-Commerce Leaders Forum (GELF) highlights growth and distribution strategies brands and retailers should implement to optimize international e-commerce operations now and in the future.
GELF, the largest community of digital retail executives focused on growing cross-border and international commerce sales, surveyed senior e-commerce executives at branded manufacturers and traditional retailers to understand how leaders are leveraging digital to grow their international distribution footprint. Developed with support from the National Retail Federation (NRF), the survey reveals leaders are facing a multitude of challenges and opportunities in driving their organization’s global e-commerce expansion.
The survey suggests that successful leaders will require flexibility, digital champions and a willingness to test digital-first ways of growing retail sales globally.
The results address several core decisions that are driving the evolution of organizations today:
Growth Strategies: Large, English-speaking markets remain the top international priority, but the revenue opportunity in other emerged and emerging markets, particularly China, is driving brands to revisit their strategy - and partners - in these areas.
International Ecommerce Expansion Models: Cross-border e-commerce and international marketplaces are the most appealing expansion models for brands and retailers due to lower costs of entry and expanded global reach.
Enterprise Execution: Global e-commerce leaders are moving from US-centric to global operating models by developing “Global Playbooks” and “Centers of Excellence.” But this transition is not without its challenges; international distribution agreements, digital rights and gaining company-wide e-commerce buy-in are barriers for many digital leaders.
International Distributors: E-commerce leaders are seeking distribution partners that not only offer traditional regulatory and operational support but also can actively enable digital commerce growth while controlling brand content and storytelling. That said, many international distributors and resellers are not e-commerce savvy, so brands must take the lead on educating global reselling partners to build their digital commerce skill sets.
Foundations for Future Growth: After the cross-border and international e-commerce foundations are in place, brands and retailers must invest in international marketing, demand generation and data management to ensure future growth.
“Executives need to understand that simply having a direct or traditional distribution partner presence isn’t enough in today’s borderless world. They must continually embrace new marketplace partnerships and emerging shopping channels, and invest in digital marketing and e-commerce innovations to stay relevant,” said Kent Allen, co-founder of GELF and primary author of the report.
“As Amazon and Alibaba evolve to become global distribution partners, retail brands must innovate with other distribution partners to provide the digital experience the international shopper now expects,” Allen added.