Physical stores and shopping malls are evolving with changes in footfall, shopping behaviours and the merging of online and offline retail solutions
Thinking of selling globally? By looking beyond local trade, sellers get to overcome geographical boundaries to reach a global audience. This means greater access to people with diverse preferences, resulting in higher sales volume and ultimately increasing profits for your business.
Studies have found that cross-border retail volume is expected to increase at an annual average rate of 25 percent between 2015 and 2020 (from USD$300 billion to $900 billion) – twice the pace of eCommerce growth. No longer is it a question of whether local sellers will tap into the global market, but rather how they can begin to do so confidently.
During my time at eBay, I’ve interacted with many aspiring business owners and successful international sellers. Through our conversations and my first-hand experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve identified three types of sellers who have significantly grown their businesses by going global:
1. The “Click and Mortar” Seller
Without a doubt, the retail space has been witnessing significant change over the last few years. Physical stores and shopping malls are evolving with changes in footfall, shopping behaviours and the merging of online and offline retail solutions.
One thing is certain – physical stores are not going away, they just need to adapt to the changes. A new model of “click and mortar” selling has emerged where the physical store experience complements retailers’ online businesses.
Specialised retail stores are budding across Southeast Asia. Love Bonito, Singapore’s online-first fashion retailer, recently opened doors to their first flagship store in Singapore. The store serves as a platform to enhance the customer touchpoint by offering a personal shopping experience.
The retail space serves several purposes: it acts as a channel for the retail staff to interact with customers and understand existing buyer trends and preferences; allows retailers to showcase brand story through store décor and photo spots; and facilitates product exchange and collection which would typically take several days if an online buyer were to return the products via mail.
In fact, research finds that 66 percent of customers engage in webrooming where customers browse online before making a purchase in a retail store. Showrooming and ‘click and collect’ are other examples of multichannel shopping behaviours that are on the rise. As a result, the store bridges the online and offline shopping experience, providing a holistic and consistent shopper journey across online channels and the physical store to drive profits and sales.
2. The “Side Job to Day Job” Seller
Many successful sellers started selling as a side job. Often, they start their foray into selling to clear off items they no longer need. Today, consumers are also moving away from traditional 9-to-5 jobs, opting for options that offer more flexibility, such as selling full-time.
Making the transition from selling as a side-hustle can appear intimidating, but ultimately it depends on the level of flexibility in how you run your business.
Through this initial experience, as amateur as it might first be, sellers become increasingly sophisticated at what they do while familiarising themselves with the buying and selling process, picking up tips and tricks on how to optimise their time and setting up solid listings to improve chances of conversion. Over time, they gain knowledge of what sells, what doesn’t and how much they can charge.
3. The “Local to Global” Seller
Each seller usually brings something unique to the table. Sellers offering local products that are not usually accessible or sourced in other countries can win over customers with novelty and distinctiveness. More than ever before, customers want to feel different. Unique products help them to feel special and different, unlike commoditised, mass-produced items that can be found easily.
For example, the sale of semiconductor parts is a niche market as these high-end machine parts are not readily available and extremely expensive. J316, a top-growing semiconductor business, orders semiconductor parts in bulk and sells them at four to five times cheaper than retail. Today, they ship to markets like the US, Taiwan and South Korea. Buyers enjoy the thrill of finding a good deal and some even travel overseas to review products in the physical store.
Selling internationally is also made easier with Singapore’s efficient logistics and transport infrastructure, where the country is recognised as the top logistics hub in Southeast Asia.
These established networks allow for easier shipping and tracking, allowing products to be transported easily from sellers to their customers. Sellers also have greater access to shipping and courier partners. As a result, global customers can enjoy a reliable and efficient delivery process.
Finding Success as a Global Seller in the Changing Retail Landscape
Online and offline are converging. More sellers are exploring full-time selling for flexible job arrangements. Retailers are seeking ways to expand their buyer base by offering unique products to international buyers. Managing the risks associated with these changes while running a business may prove to be a challenge. Consider partnering with a global eCommerce platform to help remove guesswork and risks when it comes to tasks like driving traffic and managing payments.
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