Doing your homework on the different stages of omnichannel development in different markets is key if you want to connect with your global retail audience. Retail markets are defined by both their geographies and shopper demographics and, as such, require a tailored rather than cookie-cutter approach to drive sales growth.
While some countries, such as China and the United States, have progressed further on their omnichannel journeys, others are at the fledgling stage of development but tipped to grow. As Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG, an industry association for online retail, and its international partner trading site, eCommerce Worldwide, states: "Each country and region is at a different phase of digital maturity toward omnichannel, but it's not linear progress that happens in the same way everywhere."
Take China, for example. According to PricewaterhouseCooper's (PwC) Total Retail 2016 report, China's consumers shop online a lot more than the rest of the world. Nearly one-fifth—19.6 percent—of Chinese consumers shop online daily versus the global average of 7.1 percent, PwC shows. China's propensity to shop online far outshines the United States, too. Two-thirds—65 percent—of Chinese consumers shop online monthly versus one-fifth—22 percent—of shoppers in the United States, currently the second largest eCommerce market in the world.
But even that's poised to change. New data from payments company Worldpay claims India is en route to overtake the United States to become the world's second largest eCommerce market, worth $2.039 trillion by 2034. While India accounts for less than 1 percent of the world's eCommerce spend today, the country's online retail market is set to grow by an astounding 28 percent per year over the next four years, making it worth $63.7 billion by 2020. Growth will be driven by a combination of technological change, rising income levels, and favourable demographics, Worldpay reports.
Online retail is also a key growth channel in Japan, a nation of tech-savvy shoppers, according to the IGD. Japanese expectations of service and fulfilment are high due to positive shopping experiences with players such as Amazon and Rakuten, the IGD says.
Geography, meanwhile, has driven omnichannel development in the UK, says Mulcahy. A relatively small country in terms of land mass, it is well suited to the distribution of parcels at a relatively fast speed. That's why it has been possible for next-day delivery to become widespread recently, he says.
Customer behaviour is another factor, Mulcahy adds. While click-and-collect has been around for years, it only caught on in the UK after unusual weather patterns brought larger-than-normal snow levels in 2010, which lasted a long time and caused huge disruption to fulfilment; so retailers started encouraging customers to come to store to pick up their orders instead and it has built from there.
Rapid fulfillment in Russia, by contrast, is a far more difficult prospect than for somewhere like the UK. "It isn't just the fact that you have an enormous country, but it covers 11 time zones, two continents and a diverse range of shopper expectations around delivery," Mulcahy explains.
To connect with your global retail audience you need to consider different payment methods, too. While credit cards are a popular method in the UK, Russian shoppers are very wary of fraud. Consequently, there has been a tradition of pay-on-delivery in Russia so consumers could avoid entering their details online. Indian consumers also favor cash on delivery, Worldpay reports. However, 39 percent of the Indian market will move to using direct bank transfers by 2020, compared with the US and China where 28 percent and 46 percent of shoppers respectively will be paying using eWallets such as PayPal or Alipay.
Mobile penetration is another factor to consider in your global reach. India's new Internet users are forecast to be mobile-first, due to having the world's fastest-growing smartphone market and cheap data plans. In Africa, which doesn't have the infrastructure to support widespread desktop access, there's a high tendency for people there to use mobile devices for online services, IMRG reports.