Why E-Commerce Can Ease Your U.S. Expansion

September 21, 2015

in Plan Your Expansion

Authored by Mika Nagashima

Why E-Commerce Can Ease Your U.S. Expansion

By the end of 2015, global consumer e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $1.7 trillion, with mobile commerce accounting for nearly $300 billion in sales. And as online business owners know, the e-commerce space has become increasingly competitive, with companies constantly having to come up with new ways to attract consumers, many of whom shop via a mobile device.

In short, U.S. audiences not only expect a fantastic e-commerce experience, they outright demand it. And with the rapid rise of mobile e-commerce, companies who choose not to optimize their mobile experiences will find themselves behind the pack.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Companies that create the most memorable, customer-focused e-commerce experience will resonate best with shoppers, and will have the easiest transition to becoming a trusted brand for U.S. audiences.

First, a Glistening Example…

Sweaty Betty, a British retailer specializing in women’s active wear, has more than 40 boutiques across the U.K., alongside two U.S. locations, with more brick and mortar locations expected on both sides of the Atlantic in the coming years.

However, even with a Bloomingdale’s partnership in place, the company knew an updated e-commerce solution was the best way to penetrate the crowded U.S. sportswear market. They partnered with a leading provider of enterprise management software to improve their site’s UX and customer experience for U.S. audiences.

Using this new platform, Sweaty Betty now provides a much more immersive shopping experience, and has real-time access to global inventory, as well as customer behaviors and preferences, both online and in stores. As a result, they expect to improve customer service and stock management, as well as create more relevant brand interactions via website and mobile.

Thanks to this platform (alongside some venture capital from a U.S. investor) Sweaty Betty has sped up growth of its online and offline retail business further into U.S. markets, and is quickly becoming a household name for sportswear enthusiasts.

So, what can we learn from Sweaty Betty?

Content is More Interactive and Personal

Though the company already had an e-commerce platform in place, Sweaty Betty’s customer expectations had increased to the point where more immersive visual experiences were expected. Images that spin and rotate, interactive videos and the likes, all allow consumers to learn more about products.

When compared to the static images of the previous site, Sweaty Betty’s online experience more closely matched what customers would enjoy in their brick and mortar locations, with much of the company’s personality and value proposition shining through the updated site.

To be successful today, e-commerce sites will need to become more advanced and personalized, via both websites and mobile, which is rapidly becoming the shopping medium of choice. Speaking of which…

Mobile is Gaining Market Share

According to Goldman Sachs, worldwide mobile commerce sales will account for nearly half of total Web sales by 2018. That’s in large part due to payment providers, such as PayPal and Apple Pay, making it easy for consumers to log in and securely make purchases from their smartphone, simplifying the mobile checkout process, often by allowing shoppers to use their social logins.

Indeed, many retailers are finding that a majority of their customers are interacting with their brand through smartphones and tablets a cloud e-commerce provider. So there’s a clear need—and opportunity—to deliver a distinct shopping experience, specific to customers.

To attract the increasingly mobile consumer, e-commerce sites should leverage responsive design to provide the best user experience across devices, regardless of operating system or screen size. Doing so will ensure a seamless shopping experience, lead to increased site conversions and provide retailers with a more modern branding component.

B2B Isn’t Excluded From the Party

Though Sweaty Betty represents the consumer e-commerce space, B2B companies can still apply these tactics. In fact, the B2B market offers huge opportunities for the e-commerce world. While much of the focus in this arena has been on retailers selling to consumers, more B2B companies are collaborating and ordering product from each other, so the possibilities for a distribution network and online transactions in this specific market are endless.

Wholesalers and distributors are beginning to realize that their customers all shop online, and expect the same type of buying experience from their vendors. B2B e-commerce makes it easier for wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors to connect to their customers on the go through mobile channels and simplifies the re-ordering and customer support processes, freeing up valuable sales reps to focus on bigger deals.

Optimized e-commerce presents a fantastic opportunity for expanding businesses to tap into the global economy. Today, thanks to advanced technology, a growing slate of third-party platforms, improved UX, and an overall focus on customer facilitation, even smaller companies can expand their brand to U.S. shores, and ultimately, the multibillion-dollar global e-commerce market.

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