What better way to understand the global retail market, than listening to speakers from across the world? The Internet World E-Commerce Fair in Munich this week gave Retail Gazette the opportunity to engage with retailers exploring, ‘Different markets - different needs’.
One theme that was recurrent was the US vs Europe and the importance of knowing your customers’ needs locally, not just on a whole. Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester Research said “as companies grow so does competition”, turning the online market into a global game of cat and mouse.
USA vs Europe
Forrester Research compiled together a list of differences they had found between the US and Europe. They said that Europe does better than the US in regards to Payments, Omnichannel and grocery, with the US finding it difficult to monetise on supermarkets, certainly compared to European chains such as Aldi.
Mulpuru says that payments can take longer in the US and that e-receipts will be a ‘big thing’ in 2015. However, delivery methods must not be ignored.
Customers expect things on demand, with an easy transition from transaction to delivery. This doesn’t just apply to local retailers, as businesses shipping globally must also offer speed and affordability to achieve successful international results.
Centiro, a logistics and delivery management solutions company, warned that if retailers continue to offer ‘best-effort’ delivery networks, they risk damaging customer relationships:
“With the huge growth of online retail and consumers demanding greater speed and convenience, retailers’ delivery capabilities are coming under increasing strain” a spokesperson stated.
The company’s CEO Niklas Hedin went on to say: “Today’s consumer is also demanding a seamless brand interaction, so for those retailers using multiple carriers there is often a disconnect between the shopping and delivery experience”.
Mulpuru cited that “everyone has omnichannel now” so the focus should be on what retailers do with it.
US delivery companies fear that America may be trailing behind Europe, particularly when it comes to the controversial topic of Amazon’s delivery drones.
“Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing”, said Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice-President for global public policy, highlighting the need for speed in retail delivery systems to stay ahead of the game.
However, America is focusing on its delivery basics. On Monday it was announced that Target, the US retailing company, is slashing its free delivery charges from anything over $50 to anything over $25, in a bid to ward of competitors Amazon and Walmart.
Mulpuru believes that free shipping is critical in the US to keep consumers engaged in the brand. She spoke of her experience with German retailer Weltbild. When recently ordering a product, she was given a shipping cost more than twice the worth of the item itself and a 30 day delivery time – something she believes is unacceptable for successful retailers in 2015.
UK delivery companies such as ASOS are setting the bar high for others trying to stay ahead of the game. In 2013 it launched 15 minute delivery window alerts and now a GPS can tell customers where the driver is. Sïmon Saneback, E-Commerce and Cross Border Specialist said that this system should be the norm.
These tracking methods could possibly leave technophobes and smaller companies, with little funds, lagging behind. Retailers now have no choice but to provide a speedy, cheap service or customers will soon divert their gaze elsewhere.
“For retailers looking to regain control of their delivery networks, automating the management of multiple carriers while providing customers with delivery information under their own branding will be a pre-requisite,” added Hedin, Centiro CEO.
In order for companies to truly capitalise from an omnichannel business they must first provide the basics to customers worldwide. Saneback confirmed “consumers have the power now” as people are becoming “bigger than brands’.