If You Aren't Already Prepping for the Holidays, You Should Be
The difference between red and black starts now.
Black Friday is just one of many major shopping days around the world. Between now and Christmas, for example, there is also Singles Day in China and Diwali in India. With just a couple of weeks until Christmas carols flood stores and the major shopping season begins, have you prepared your business for the uptick in sales traffic? Have you considered what marketplaces other than Amazon are doing and how your business might be able to leverage them?
If the answer is no to either of those questions, you have a lot of work cut out for you. Mobile has taken center stage and shopping options have never been more diverse for consumers. That diversity has also translated into more selling outlets and challenging established players.
As a small business, how do you best prepare for the holiday season?
The Christmas shopping season sees huge demand everywhere in the world. For example, Black Friday is now one of the biggest shopping days in the U.K. and Europe. The post-Christmas sales see shoppers flock online from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day.
Amazon’s fulfillment services (FBA) and other international fulfillment businesses make it easier than ever to export your goods overseas. Time is running out but if you hurry, you can still give your products exposure to some of the biggest shopping markets in the world.
You’ve heard it time and again, mobile is the future. Not surprisingly, mobile has become a powerhouse for ecommerce. It had a breakthrough year in 2015 and is predicted to reach more than $120 billion in sales in 2016. That’s a 39 percent increase over last year. What does this mean for vendors this shopping season?
Without a mobile-optimized website or app, you run the risk of missing out on reaching these mobile gift givers. Mobile is a dominant shopping platform, a conduit between in-person and desktop shopping experiences and a simple way to continuously be in contact with consumers. Adopt responsive design to facilitate the user experience, and build out your omnichannel experience. If you use marketplaces, consider Wish.com, which now has hundreds of millions of mobile shoppers.
Make transactions intuitive.
The payment process is by far and large the most critical for vendors. The average cart abandonment rate is about 69 percent, according to the Baymard Institute. That’s a massive missed opportunity for engagement and revenue.
Avoid this pitfall by making payments on your site easy and simple. Also, keep in mind the level you are playing at. For instance, being a vendor in international marketplaces means possibly losing up to 4 percent in foreign exchange conversion charges when converting funds back to your local, preferred currency. With this in mind, ensure you are maximizing profits from global customers by leveraging a system that does not eat into your margins.
Don’t overlook the up-and-comers.
You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially at the global level. The 45 percent of the trillion dollar global online retail market is not generated by the likes of Amazon and eBay alone. So try new retail sites.
Flipkart is the top ecommerce site in India. Rakuten is the Amazon of Japan, Alibaba reigns supreme in China, while Mercado Libre dominates in Latin America. And the U.S. market has seen disruption from new players like Jet, which was recently acquired by Walmart. Not to mention the role that apps are now taking.
Line, a communications app, is looking to transform its messaging app into a one-stop “smart portal” for Asian users. It’s looking to expand its ecosystem with acquisitions in mobile gaming, artificial intelligence, advertising and video streaming -- Japanese users already spend at least five times more time using the app than Amazon. Other apps, like Tencent’s WeChat and Facebook Messenger, are also becoming integrated platforms that include features such as shopping and payment.This holiday season, it’s time to think bigger, broader and better. Like vendors adjusted to the shift from brick-and-mortar to the web, it’s time online vendors adapt to the latest developments in the ecommerce space. Selling to a global audience has never been easier. It’s time to take the right steps so as not to miss out on any possible opportunities.
David Nicholls is head of payment solutions at OFX, a global payments company that helps SMBs send money to more than 190 countries, with 24/7 transactions and customer support and better-than-bank exchange rates.