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"Cross-border e-commerce: why PIM provides the foundation"

Excerpt: We highlight the key challenges retailers and manufacturers face when targeting their e-commerce offerings in new markets and explain why a PIM system is the foundation for international expansion.

More than 20% of all retail sales worldwide are generated online. Accordingly, it is no wonder that manufacturers and retailers are increasingly expanding the marketing of their products beyond their own national borders in order to access new markets. 

“In 2021, retail e-commerce sales amounted to approximately 5.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 56 percent over the next years, reaching about 8.1 trillion dollars by 2026.”

Source: Insider Intelligence „Global Ecommerce Forecast“, 2022

The growth of cross-border e-commerce has initiated a new era for online retailers. In addition to local marketplaces, there are also opportunities for online retailers to grow in global markets – and with manageable resources. We have summarized the most successful marketplaces, and how you can sell effectively on them, in this article.

More than 70% of consumers list a better price and better availability than at national level as the most common reasons for shopping abroad. Particularly in the fashion, consumer electronics, toys and jewelry sectors, products are often difficult to obtain, which is why many consumers resort to cross-border shopping, accepting longer waiting times and further transport distances (source: PayPal Cross-Border Consumer Research).

Product Information Management (PIM) forms the basis for cross-border e-commerce and enables retailers to be present in many different global markets. A PIM system can not only capture product data centrally, but also translate, localize, and prepare it for publication across multiple channel

Key challenges in cross-border e-commerce

  • Optimized and translated content: In order to reach customers in the target market in their native language, product descriptions must be written in the right language and consider the country-specific characteristics. In this context, a mere translation of product data and product descriptions is not enough. Instead, content must be localized. The difference lies in the additional consideration of local factors, which can be assessed, for example, by means of a PESTL analysis. This means that political, economic, socio-cultural, technical, ecological and legal aspects of the target market are also taken into account in the translation.
  • Correct pricing and payment methods: Many foreign markets have their own local currency. When translating the products, the prices must also be set in the local currency to make it easier for customers to make a purchase decision. Here, the offer of payment options also plays an important role. Offering multiple payment methods simplifies the sales process, but payment method preferences often differ per target market. While 50% of German online shoppers prefer to pay with PayPal or a comparable mobile wallet, the majority of American online shoppers prefer to pay via credit or debit card (source: Statista 2021).
  • Correct sizes and measurements: E-commerce portal operators need to remember that units of measurement can change for different regions. If this is not taken into account before publishing product information, customers may be confused in their purchase decision process. One of the most common examples of this issue is the use of the metric system of measurement (e.g. kilos, liters, meters) instead of the imperial system of measurement (e.g. pounds, gallons, miles, inches, feet, yards) when selling in US markets.
  • SEO Criteria: After retailers have expanded their business through cross-border e-commerce, they must keep in mind that SEO is a must not only for their local market, but also for the international market. Localizing keywords for search engine optimization is one of the most important tasks. The terms that target customers use when searching for a product change from country to country.
  • Country-specific shipping regulations: Manufacturers and retailers must comply with customs regulations when shipping across borders. Depending on the country and product, the fees to be paid may differ. Also, the tariffs, taxes, costs for insurances and the delivery time of the different shipping services should be taken into account.
  • Return policy: Especially for cross-border trade, it is important that the cancellation policy includes information about who bears the return costs. Otherwise, the retailer will have to pay for the return costs, which can be expensive when shipping internationally. Nevertheless, in order to minimize the fears of buyers and strengthen customer loyalty, it should be examined whether free returns can be used as a competitive advantage.

Discover the advantages of PIM for your industry

“Based on a survey of more than 3,000 global consumers in 10 non-Anglophone countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, 75% prefer to buy products in their native language. In addition, 60% rarely or never buy from English-only websites.”

Source: CSA-Research „Survey of 3,000 Online Shoppers Across 10 Countries“

Relevant product content is the key to converting visitors into customers. That’s why one of the first steps in expanding into new international markets is to present product information in local languages. This is the only way to involve customers interactively in the purchase decision process. The number of cross-border trading platforms determines how extensive the translation processes are for companies. The greater the number of markets and touchpoints, the greater the effort required for translation work.

With the cloud PIM software from prodexa, companies can easily manage their product content in multiple languages, create comprehensive translation features specifically tailored to the needs of manufacturers and distributors with their own terminology. They can also work with an integrated dashboard that provides a quick overview of all ongoing translation processes. In addition, prodexa Cloud detects articles and descriptions that are missing translations and ensures that no incomplete or insufficiently translated content is published through the channels.

After managing the translation process, the next step is to localize the product content. In addition to creating product descriptions in the appropriate language, there are various dynamics for different regions and markets that need to be considered. These include different currencies, dates and times, size specifications, seals and certificates. Different countries also have different demands on their customer journey. For some buyer groups, it is primarily brands and technical data that are required in the information procurement process, while other buyer groups place more value on information in the area of material properties and sustainability. Depending on the target market, a PIM system can be used to target different product data in different channels. 

If sales take place exclusively via the online store, a transformation of the listed characteristics can often take place directly via the shop system. However, the topic of product data goes beyond the use case of e-commerce by also optimizing the product data for other channels in the sense of an omnichannel commerce approach. This means that the translated and localized product information can also be made available in print catalogs, marketplaces, apps, or at the point of sale in a contextually appropriate manner. Regardless of how many new channels are added to the marketing mix in the long run, the effort to provide optimized product data is only done once in a dedicated system. Furthermore, some PIM systems such as prodexa Cloud also have an integrated digital asset management system (DAM), which means that country-specific and cultural preferences can also be taken into account visually.

" 85% of shoppers surveyed consider comprehensive and informative product images to be very important in their purchasing decisions."

Source: Think with Google „Consumer Insights“, 2022

Conclusion:

Cross-border expansions require multilingual versions of product data, dimensions, currencies, digital media, etc. To efficiently manage, enrich, localize and distribute this product data and information to the relevant output channels (online shop, print, POS, marketplaces, apps), a PIM system is essential. A PIM system scales with the number of products to be managed, the number of markets to be accessed and the number of channels in the marketing mix.

Would you like practical insights? Feel free to arrange a non-binding online demo and learn more about how prodexa Cloud can support you in your expansion plans.

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