New data from e-commerce platform Shopify has shone a fresh spotlight on the reach potential of Australian e-commerce merchants when collaborating with the platform, reaching not only new heights but additional new destinations around the globe.
Since the successful launch of its Shopify Markets initiative last year, designed to act as a global e-commerce hub better enabling and facilitating cross-border commerce, Shopify reports having seen more than 175,000 merchants from around the world use the service to launch cross-border e-commerce aspirations and businesses.
From these 175,000 global merchants, internal Shopify data reports that Australian e-commerce merchants particularly have enjoyed expanded reach to an average of 10 international markets and as many as 92 million shoppers from across the globe. This follows a 2021 study conducted by Shopify reporting a significant 67.9 percent increase in international spending with Shopify merchants for the FY21 period, suggesting extraordinary earning potential for local e-commerce hopefuls seeking to enter international markets.
The latest development for Shopify’s offerings to Australian e-commerce merchants hoping to explore and thrive in international markets is the domestic introduction of the platform’s ‘Translate & Adapt’ app, facilitating merchants retailing on the platform better adapting their shopfronts to the nuances of the various international markets and boosted by offering additional translations services in order for merchants to reach consumers whose primary language may differ to that of the retailers. This opportunity could see sales results improve by as much as 13 percent, according to Shopify data collated in 2021.
“The boom of online shopping during the pandemic has meant more Australian merchants are now selling to more countries and international consumers than ever before,” says Shaun Broughton, Shopify’s Managing Director for the Asia-Pacific region, “However, with competition on the rise, expanding to new markets without a localised consumer experience means merchants leave untapped potential on the table.”
“Shopify Markets overhauls how Australian merchants build high-touch storefronts in new countries, all from a single store and platform, which is a game changer for increasing consumer empathy and conversion.”
Accounting for global values as high as US$4.93 trillion in 2021, e-commerce has rode a wave of success since the beginning of the pandemic, but looks to have hit a stalling point at precisely the same time as the remainder of the global economy. In Australia, online retail sales saw a decline of as much as 34 percent during the month of July from the results of one year previous, according to global e-commerce accelerator Pattern.
Consequently, the ongoing economic turmoil and looming threat of a global recession is an understandable source of discomfort and anxiety for merchants when considering expansion into international markets. Currency conversion rates internationally continue to fluctuate as high and rising inflation rates hit hard, with supply chain issues globally also continuing to cause problems for retailers. Changing shopping behaviours are also predicted to see consumers continue to turn away from discretionary spending and embrace frugality out of necessity, at least for the short term until economic relief has an opportunity to arrive.
However, Shopify’s Broughton suggests that the current market nonetheless offers opportunities for merchants to adapt to not only withstand the ongoing and predicted economic turbulence, but also to build foundations for future success – particularly if they are willing to take opportunities to shift their focus to building more meaningful relationships with consumers both domestically and internationally.
“Many retailers are feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty in today’s economy. Rising inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic have retailers wondering how to prepare for the future. But, with preparation and flexibility, times like these can be an opportunity to increase customer loyalty, boost productivity, strengthen market position and broaden reach to an international market,” Broughton tells Power Retail, “For example, both here and overseas, our advice to retailers is to have a strong customer focus as understanding consumers preferences is critical in a time like this. Brands should be open to collecting customer feedback and doing their research on why consumers are shopping and how brands best fit their needs.”
“Opening up to new markets also helps businesses navigate seasonal fluctuations and country-specific conditions by offsetting dips in one market with growth in another. We often see this approach with seasonal businesses, however, we’re now seeing more businesses look to hedge their business across core markets where there is demand for their products.”
Shopify’s streamlined processes to facilitate logistics and delivery also offer opportunities to merchants hoping to enter international markets, offering relief not only with respect to costs but additional strategies designed around saving retailers time and energy which themselves are hot commodities in a retail market dealing not only with a strained economy but additional skills shortages.
“Shopify assists with logistics and delivery through our Shopify Shipping, which allows merchants to concentrate on their other business needs and not be buried down in fulfilling orders. We have many partners, including Sendle in Australia, who ships to more than 220 international locations,” Broughton says, “Shopify Shipping with Sendle makes it easier and more affordable for our merchants to access discounted domestic and international shipping rates up to 33.6%, bulk download and print shipping labels from their phone, track orders and pay one simple bill.”
Sendle itself has seen the opportunities that it provides to merchants correspond to expansion of its services into international markets, with its most recent expansion seeing it launch its services in Canada following its successful launch last year in the United States. Launched in Australia in 2014 as Australia’s first 100 percent carbon neutral parcel delivery service, services providing merchants with cost-effective and sustainable logistics and shipping services appear as if they will only continue to grow more and more valuable – particularly for small businesses.
“Small businesses can’t afford to have 65% of customers abandoning their shopping carts at checkout because of high shipping costs,” says Lauren Helstab, Country Manager for Sendle’s expansion into Canada, “Plus, small businesses can’t compete with big retailers without fair rates.”
With gaps being bridged both between small businesses and affordable shipping options, and also e-commerce merchants and international markets, the opportunities for those operating in the Australian e-commerce space to withstand economic turbulence and lay foundations for future success emerge through such streamlined processes as those offered by Shopify and Sendle.
Utilising cost-effective strategies to grow international sales, particularly, could be exactly the shot in the arm that the Australian e-commerce market needs to navigate the increasingly likely prospect of a global recession.
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