(BPT) - The holiday season is the year’s busiest time for retail and e-commerce sales worldwide. Year-end holiday sales surpass one-fourth of all sales for the year, for the majority of businesses around the world. As these businesses gear up for this year’s peak selling season, they grapple with more challenges — and opportunities — than ever before. According to a new Visa Global Merchant eCommerce Study (GME Study), more than half of the e-commerce executives or business owners surveyed (52%) considered increased competition from other retailers to be their biggest hurdle in achieving their revenue goals during the peak holiday season.
What’s the solution? According to the study, a vast majority of e-business leaders (87%) believe that expanding their online sales into new revenue streams — such as the global marketplace — is one of their biggest growth opportunities both in the near- and long-term future. Today, two-thirds of online businesses already take advantage of cross-border sales, which make up 31% of their revenue. However, over half of e-business leaders that are already reaping the benefits of international sales doubt their companies’ ability to maximize those opportunities, once more proving the space to be a fickle yet fruitful destination.
End of year holidays mean sales worldwide
The fourth quarter of the year determines whether the year has been a success or not for many businesses. Almost all (99%) of the e-commerce companies surveyed have made sales in Q4 of 2018. The majority of those (86%) made more than a quarter of their annual revenues from Q4 sales, demonstrating that holiday time is critical for e-commerce businesses.
And beyond mastering these challenges, making the most of international e-commerce opportunities depends on one primary factor for businesses — keeping their customers happy, no matter where they’re located. Consumers today have higher standards. Even if they are ordering products online from across the globe, they expect their experience to be the same. Survey participants reported that consumers demand a seamless experience, which they determined to mean:
- Easy online checkout (cited by 41%)
- Convenient payment methods (41%)
- Quick delivery (44%)
While some retailers are slower to adopt these processes for global market expansion, two out of three businesses that do not currently sell cross-border plan to do so soon (and 90% are considering doing so in the next three years). However as many as 87% of those who haven’t expanded into international sales have not yet pursued the opportunity.
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Similarly, despite cross-border sales’ ability to generate significant revenue, more than half (51 percent) of e-business leaders of companies that already sell to international customers need help optimizing their foreign online sales and creating a solution that sticks.
What's stopping them? Perhaps they see those hurdles, such as having to process foreign transactions and dealing with international shipping, as barriers that are too difficult to overcome.
But more than 85% of executives surveyed said that expanding their business to include global online sales is the top priority for their company in achieving growth in the future.
Solutions to expanded cross-border sales
So how can businesses increase their capability to expand into the international e-commerce market and find new cross-border customers?
Companies within the payments industry can help provide businesses with streamlined, secure and effective payments solutions, giving retailers of all sizes the ability to capitalize on untapped markets. Available programs and services these innovators can provide go way beyond helping companies cope with the perceived barrier of handling foreign transactions, and can include analytics and targeted data tools, comprehensive in-market insights and localized spending behaviors.
“The data is clear — cross-border is a major growth opportunity. But it’s not easy,” said Suzan Kereere, global head of merchant sales and acquiring, Visa. “As a global platform that sees millions of transactions daily, Visa helps merchants find new customers, verify their customers’ digital identities, and create secure, seamless experiences.”
Learn how to get what you need to grow your business by visiting visa.com and selecting “Run Your Business.”