Five experts talk about how they see the future of e-commerce, how to grow revenue cross-border and what the potential impact of the Brexit could be.
How do you foresee the future of Dutch logistics/warehousing with regards to Brexit impacts?
Guido van de Ven, Business Development Director
A few years ago, bol.com started ‘Verkopen via bol.com’, a selling platform allowing retailers to sell their products and be closely followed by post-payment at bol.com. The 19.000 entrepreneurs who use the platform benefit from bol.com marketing power, warehousing services, delivery network (including same-day, evening and Sunday delivery), return management and customer care operations. As a market leader, bol.com knows an extensive amount about selling online in the Dutch and Belgium markets. Like many other countries, consumer reviews are essential to selling successfully online.
iDEAL is the most used payment method and next day delivery is a crucial success factor as well. We see an increase in sales of 25% if you can deliver the next day. The Dutch also have a few special gifting holidays like Sinterklaas (not to be confused with Santa Clause). Your local approach is key to being successful and would be likely to make a difference for customers.
Both small as well as big retailers use bol.com to enter the Dutch and Belgium markets. For example, AO (formally Appliances Online), a large UK online retailer launched in the Netherlands both with its own web shop as well as on bol.com. From our own experiences in expanding to Belgium, if you want to become successful in a foreign market, you need a team up until midnight, or a marketplace partner to replace your own team on the ground.”
What would the potential impact of Brexit on global trade be (including ecommerce)?Jonathan Portes, Senior Fellow at The UK in a changing Europe
Overall, the impact outside the EU is likely to be limited, although some firms (for example Japanese car firms with major UK operations) may be adversely affected. UK e-commerce companies may find it more difficult to operate in the EU and vice-versa, although it will depend very much on the regulatory regime in each sector.
What are the main challenges/considerations for SMEs whose clients order cross-border and/or domestically?
Jeroen Leenders, Global Sales Manager at Salesupply
Customer Experience will be key in the future for successful online business in Spain, as well as abroad. Fast international delivery, free shipping, free returns are key factors for a better conversion rate and growth, and Spanish retailers realize that.
Another challenge SMEs have to face is that portals as Amazon will get bigger and bigger in this country. On a product level, Amazon is almost replacing Google as a search engine here in Spain. This means SMEs will more and more search for these extra channels to sell on.
What is your vision of the physical store in relation to Ecommerce? Will trends such as ‘showrooming’ grow? Or do you believe that this relationship for the consumer fundamentally change in the future?
Roland Palmer, Managing Director at Alibaba Group & Alipay EMEA
We’re going through a very exciting time, which sees the radical and rapid transformation of the retail industry worldwide, but China’s dynamic and unique ecommerce market offers a glimpse into how the future of commerce might look like, globally. This is driven, among other factors, by the surge of a new consumer type: younger, internationally oriented, tech-savvy and mobile-driven, and seeking high quality, original cross-border products.
Alibaba Group has been a pioneer in this sense, and since 2015 we have been responding to the changing retail world by blending the online and offline spheres to create seamless brand and customer experience. This is the strategy we have introduced as “New Retail”. New Retail sees ecommerce and physical retail work together with the ultimate aim of creating deeper brand engagement and better shopping experiences for consumers.
New Retail is completely redefining commerce in China and it is a game-changer for Alibaba and retail in the country. We are anticipating a reimagined retail industry driven by the integration of offline, online, logistics, logistics and data across a single value chain, coupled with social media, interactive content and entertainment on one platform. This changing landscape has made it necessary for brands to rethink their strategies to engage with their consumers, with data technology representing a crucial part of the equation. There are already thousands of European and international companies on our platforms that are successfully implementing their New Retail strategy. Ultimately, we believe this will result in better consumer experience and greater profits for the retailer.
E-commerce is on the rise globally. What do you see as the top three drivers of growth for ecommerce businesses globally?
Kevin Cochrane, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP Customer Experience
We believe the top three drivers of global growth in ecommerce in the foreseeable future are:
- Customer demand for convenience and good experiences;
- Logistics improvements in order fulfillment and returns;
- Cost efficiency, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) segment.
The demand for convenience and good experiences fueled ecommerce growth in the last few years. We believe this trend will continue in the foreseeable future. Ecommerce is about instant access anywhere and anytime, and increasingly using any connected device. These are powerful lures for customers when they have a need to fulfill. And with millennials becoming a larger segment in the market and digital channels being their default channels for buying (and everything else), digital buying experiences will continue to improve, thus creating a virtuous cycle for growth.
Another trend that will drive growth in ecommerce is the improvement in logistics for fulfillment and returns. If there is anything that can limit ecommerce growth potential, it is logistics. This is the primary reason why Amazon and Alibaba are so dominating in their respective markets − they are able to overcome this barrier, little by little, and differentiate on it. We expect investment and innovation in this area to continue driving ecommerce growth.
And lastly, we believe cost efficiency will continue to drive growth, especially in the B2B segment. It is well understood that selling products and services to consumers using ecommerce has a lower cost structure than physical channels. For B2B, it’s about reducing the cost of sales by enabling customers to make simple and repeat orders via the digital channels. Doing so frees up their sales representatives or resellers to focus on more value-adding activities. The result is that their productivity increases, driving down the cost of sales.
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About the Ecommerce Foundation
The Ecommerce Foundation is an independent organization, initiated by worldwide national ecommerce associations, online- and omnichannel selling companies from industries such as retail, travel and finance.
By combining collective goals and efforts, the Ecommerce Foundation is able to realize projects that could not be realized on an individual basis.
They facilitate the development of practical knowledge, market insights andservices for which individual institutions, retail and ecommerce associations and B2C selling companies do not have the (financial) resources and/or capabilities for.