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Tech Solutions Are Beginning to Smooth the Bumpy Road to Selling Retail Across Borders

Until merchants cab smooth this rough cross-border retail road, both offline and online consumers will continue to pay the price, or simply avoid paying the price by purchasing only locally.

Oren Levy

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Bumpy-road

Cross-border retail is designed to give consumers the opportunity to purchase compelling and inexpensive products that cannot be found in their own countries. However, challenges like unclear exchange rates, hidden costs and declined credit cards drive many shoppers to abandon their carts and buy locally, instead. Until merchants cab smooth this rough cross-border retail road, both offline and online consumers will continue to pay the price, or simply avoid paying the price by purchasing only locally.

Related: How To Make The Most Of Your Network

Customer experience: trust is crucial

Large retailers actively nurture trust in their local markets. They understand the importance of customer experience in driving sales and facilitating conversions. But how is it possible to strengthen consumer confidence and create trust with an unfamiliar audience, in a new territory? Much of cross-border consumer trust has to do with familiarity and comfort zones.

For example, whether online or offline, cross-border customers should have the option to see prices in their own currencies. Online, this is quite feasible throughout the path to purchase. Offline, it’s at least feasible after card swipe at the POS. Currency conversion should be seamless, immediate and reflective of optimum and up-to-date conversion rates.

Card declines are an annoyance to online shoppers, and can prove awkward at the POS. Merchants need to ensure that their acquirers accept all locally-common forms of payment, without deterring cross-border consumers by passing on steep processing costs.

Statement surprises undermine trust. A customer who is surprised by hidden costs from cross-border transactions on his or her monthly card statement will not be a return customer. Merchants must act to eliminate these charges by intelligently routing payment processing and notifying customers, up front, of the surcharges they may encounter.

Lastly, consumer protection laws vary in different countries. Given the vast national differences in return policies and retail dispute resolution, merchants who make cross-border consumers aware of their rights regarding a specific purchase can proactively grow trust.

Promising tech solutions

The good news is that recently-introduced solutions like BorderFree, TradeGlobal, Global Shoppex and PayPal Passport are smoothing the road to cross-border retail. Today, retailers have the option of connecting to multiple acquirers, offering localised payment methods, outsourcing logistics management and intelligently routing transactions between selected acquirers to optimise processing fees and reduce decline rates.

This simplifies integration, increases flexibility, and enables retailers to provide a seamless payment experience across all channels, in any currency, with any payment method.

Related: The 4 Things Every Customer Wants

Some things to look for

There is much to take into consideration when choosing a solution to facilitate cross-border retail.

An effective solution for managing cross-border logistics needs to make payment more comfortable for the consumer by automatically converting prices into local currencies, calculating taxes and duties, factoring them into the price and reducing cross-border fraud.

Additionally, an effective cross-border retail solution should minimise the hurdles surrounding international shipments and customs clearance, global order tracking, inventory transparency (enabling customers to see real-time, up-to-date information about what’s in stock and what has sold out), and international returns.

Cross-border retail solutions must integrate regionally preferred payment methods to make consumers more comfortable paying on their websites. Support for PayPal is a good start, considering it is used for cross-border transactions by consumers and retailers in 57 countries. However, a truly international solution will include support for the numerous region-specific e-wallets in daily use by millions of potential customers. These include Alipay for Chinese consumers, Klarna for the Scandinavian region, iDeal for consumers in the Netherlands and Germany, Qiwi and Yandex for Russia, and many more.

Solutions should optimise international marketing efforts but catering to consumer preferences is only half the battle. Many cross-border solutions enable merchants to optimise these efforts by educating them about local holidays, sales seasons and more.

An effective and forward-thinking cross-border retail solution will offer international marketing messaging services to help retailers optimise their international sites and improve localised marketing campaigns.

Currency differences pose costs but effective solutions focus on decreasing transaction costs. Merchants need to be able to dynamically route transactions between acquirers and e-wallets, calculating the optimal route for every transaction. The flexibility to strategically route payments between selected acquirers transforms international payments into local transactions, eliminating cross-border and currency-conversion fees and optimising costs and acceptance rates.

Finally, retailers must be able to effortlessly connect to a network of financial institutions, including additional acquirers and e-wallets. Today, many are deterred because switching between acquirers and payment service providers is considered complex and involves significant infrastructural challenges. Thus, an effective cross-border retail solution should enable retailers to effortlessly connect to multiple acquirers and e-wallets, while minimising the infrastructural efforts associated with doing so.

Related: Closing the Deal Is as Easy as Smiling

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Oren Levy is CEO of Zooz and an experienced professional with over 15 years of experience in payments, commerce, and global business. Prior to Zooz, Oren was an executive director at Brookline (USA) for 11 years, managing its worldwide sales efforts and strategic partnerships initiatives. Before Brookline, Oren held marketing, business development and technical positions at BATM, Fundtech and L.G.E.S.

Techniques

5 Signs Your Customers Have Questions You Aren’t Answering

You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey. And confused customers don’t buy.

Sujan Patel

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customer-advice

When you come to my website, the first thing you see is me, a description of what I do and a button that encourages you to click on it. There are no surprises, no guessing where you should go next. I’ve laid it all out right in front of you.

Not all businesses make things this clear. Some have too much clutter on their homepage, overwhelming visitors with information. In fact, 75 percent of consumers polled in research by Stanford said that they judged a company’s credibility by its website design.

Such lack of clarity doesn’t apply just to websites. This could be a problem in your emails, your sales process, even your physical stores. And a  lack of clarity is troubling, because it confuses your customers, and confused customers don’t want to buy from you.

You need to make sure your business is focused on ensuring a positive experience. That means making sure no customer question is left unanswered.

Not sure if your business is suffering from a lack of clarity? If you recognise any of these five signs, there’s a good chance your customers are confused.

1. Your website stats seem off

We tend to assume that most people know what to do when they come to a website. But if your website is unorganised or cluttered, customers may not know where to go when they get there.

Maybe the customer wants to call you, but your contact information is buried. Or maybe he or she wants to purchase a product directly off your site, but the checkout process is too clunky.

If something on your website is off, your stats are going to show it. You’ll probably see a lot of visitors but not a lot of return visitors, and the amount of time they spend on your site may be low.

So, how do you fix it? Go through your website with a fine-toothed comb. Have someone unfamiliar with your site go through it and give you feedback. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at the site from their perspective. How can you make their experience on your site as smooth as possible?

Related: How To Win Trust And Wax Sales

2. The customer is indecisive

When customers are in the decision phase, you want to do everything you can to seal the deal and push them along with their decision. If they’re waffling or can’t seem to make that decision, there’s something wrong.

It could be that they don’t have all the information they need. If they’re confused about something, it’s your job to set their mind at ease. Make sure you’re open with your customers, and offer help with any questions or concerns they might have. FAQs, live chat options, videos and product resource pages can help tremendously here.

3. The customer doesn’t know how to use the product

customer-products

Is there one question that keeps coming up again and again from your customers? If you’re constantly getting the same question about your product or service, the answer needs to be clearer.

Customers shouldn’t have to call in to your support team for simple issues. You need to make it easy for customers to use your products and services. That means offering to help set things up for them and properly onboarding and training them in your product’s use. The more you can prepare your customers and anticipate their needs, the more satisfied they’ll be.

4. The customer is complaining

According to a survey by American Express, seven out of ten consumers in the United States have spent more money to do business with a company that offers great service. Excellent customer support is key to the success of your business, and without it, customers will be unhappy.

When customers are unsatisfied with the level of service they’re receiving, you’ll hear about it. If you’re getting a lot of complaints or seeing a lot of product returns, there’s probably something wrong.

To avoid getting an earful, you need to get to the root of the issue and find out the cause of your customers’ unhappiness. Is it your customer service team? Slow shipping times? Or something deeper? You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey.

Related: How You Can Guarantee Customer Satisfaction

5. Sales are down

If you aren’t selling, something is wrong. It’s as simple as that. If sales are consistently on a decline, you need to go back and find out where the problem is.

Customers want to know what they’re getting into when they make a purchase. You need to make it clear what you offer, why customers should buy from you and how exactly they can go about buying.

The key here is clarity. Customers aren’t going to jump through hoops to purchase your product. You need to guide them through the sale by ensuring their questions are answered before they’ve even asked them.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Company Posts

On Top Of Their Game

Innovative and focused on always providing superior solutions to the energy sector, Karebo Group works with top-quality providers to ensure 100% service delivery to its clients.

TomTom Telematics

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karebo

As a provider of dynamic professional services and products to the energy sector, Karebo Group’s core focus is delivering high-quality services and products to its clients.

“Our team has a long-standing and proven track record within the energy market,” says Ravi Govender, owner of Karebo Group. “Our in-depth knowledge and experience enables us to offer innovative and superior solutions to our clients. As a team, we thrive on the intellectual challenges that energy markets present.”

Karebo Group’s value proposition is to always deliver within time and budget, 100% customer commitment according to contract; operations must deliver consistently; and the entire team must be committed and 100% professional in delivery.

Because Karebo Group provides a turnkey solution to its clients, managing its own fleet enables the team to provide the best and most efficient service possible. “We’ve learnt the benefits of controlling the entire value chain,” says Ravi.

“In the past we have outsourced our logistics, and it impacted both our costs and our service delivery. By managing our own fleet, we can reduce costs and have happier clients.”

Cost-effective solutions

Karebo’s customers face significant challenges related to energy costs, which means it’s essential for the business to offer its solutions as cost-effectively as possible. Controlling transport and logistics costs is one way to do this, but it’s just one factor that the business considers. “We have solutions for all of the cost challenges that our customers face,” says Ravi.

Related: Is It Time To Consider Renewable Energy To Power Your Business?

“The problem is that while these solutions have a great return on investment, the ability to raise or channel capital to them is a challenge. General market conditions are also contributing to the indecision on allocating limited capital to these projects.”

In response, Karebo has overcome many of these challenges by assisting its customers to raise their own capital for projects. “We have moved the conversation from a CAPEX conversation to an OPEX conversation,” he explains.

The TomTom Telematics Difference

In order to keep its own operating expenses as lean as possible, it’s essential for Karebo to work with suppliers who understand their business and its needs. “We’ve been working with TomTom Telematics for three years and in that time we’ve reaped the full benefits of using the system to its full potential.

“WEBFLEET’s features include loading orders, geofencing, tracking and reporting, all of which have assisted us in optimising routes and working efficiently to see more customers, thereby increasing productivity.

“The order dispatch features via navigation device enable our teams to keep to their schedules, while address-visit reports help our teams to be more efficient by eliminating unnecessary visits to the same locations. The onboard navigation system also assists in communicating with our teams via a messaging service — teams can message our head office via the system if they need immediate assistance with correcting addresses or if any vehicle maintenance required. In addition, head office has a full view of the location of all of its teams across Africa, at any given point in time.”

According to Ravi, TomTom Telematics has played a significant role in the overall business, not just in terms of monitoring vehicles, but on bottom line costs as well.

“We chose TomTom Telematics based on its services, which met our specific requirements. Thanks to WEBFLEET, our company has seen a reduction in fuel costs, increased productivity and vehicle maintenance costs have been reduced as we place all driver behaviour reports on our company chat to correct driver behaviour.”

The leading edge

Ravi Govender was part of the national steering committee that put together the M&V framework that the original Eskom DSM programme was measured against. He also led the UKZN M&V team from January 2002 to December 2003 before joining Karebo in 2004.

Related: How do I start a retail energy business with Eskom being the only provider in South Africa?

Since joining Karebo, Ravi has ensured that his passion in developing solutions that transform and promote DSM has helped to place Karebo at the forefront of energy efficiency in South Africa.

Under Ravi’s leadership, Karebo has been focused on increasing the penetration of DSM in the South African environment and beyond. As a result, Karebo has been involved in several notable projects in this arena, including developing the framework and methodology to develop and implement large-scale mass rollout programmes.

Karebo pioneered the mass rollout of CFLs for Eskom and through this foundation several other programmes that been implemented, from the mass rollout of solar water heaters and residential mass rollouts, to developing the first large-scale LED programmes that were funded by Eskom. At that point it was the first and largest LED rollout approved anywhere in the world.

Karebo was also involved in both of Eskom’s Residential Mass Rollout phases; was contracted by the World Bank to assist Malawi on an advisory basis for the first CFL programme rolled out in that country; and was recently appointed by the EU through the European Commission to implement Solar Power Lighting to Communities and Schools in Lesotho.

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Techniques

How To Win Trust And Wax Sales

Small changes to your ecommerce platform could transform your turnover.

Daniella Shapiro

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ecommerce

Any ecommerce business venture is risky. Your products are not going to walk off the site by themselves from day one.  You have done your market research. You have identified and targeted consumer needs. You believe in your product.

What you need now is for consumers to believe in it too. But that is not enough. Your consumers also need to believe in you and your brand. Your ecommerce platform is the vehicle which allows the consumer to experience an insight into the quintessence of you, your product, and your brand.

Take your ecommerce experience from ‘what?’ to ‘wow!’.

The voice

Your ecommerce platform is a place that gives you, your brand and your products a voice. Your voice needs to speak out and tell your story. How you came to this point with your product. How and why you know it is the best on offer. Who you are.

What your brand stands for. Drive engagement with your voice through blogging. Show your investment in remaining relevant and meeting consumer needs. Invite feedback to build diversity and growth. Your products need a voice too, but they cannot speak for themselves. Let customers know your products’ worth by offering clear, detailed, jargon-free descriptions.

Give your customers pictures. Lots of them. From every angle. Show what you and your products are made of. Bring your products right into the customer’s home. If your products have got it, flaunt it. Convey an effective message that unites you as creator, your creations, and the lifestyle your brand is offering.

Authenticity, honesty, and clarity of purpose will connect the consumer to your brand in a real and relevant way.

Related: The Future Is Now – Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019

Tell all, on call

Respond to consumer enquiries with as little delay as possible. These are personal interactions with the consumer that build relationships. Excellent customer service boosts positive feedback. Aim to provide as much detailed information about your business as possible. Be transparent, and proud of it.

An FAQ section is professional and helps address recurring questions regarding your products, services and business practices. Use the opportunity to provide further info about your brand’s integrity and professionalism. Refer to certifications and licenses. FAQs indicate honest, reliability and well-established business procedures, which further builds consumer trust. 

The allure of secure

A steadfast returns policy cuts the risk for consumers when making a purchase. It is far easier to commit if you are assured you can return the product with a full money back guarantee. Make this policy evident from the outset. Include a link to your returns policy on your landing page. Address all returns related queries in your FAQs. Consumers will also trust your ecommerce platform if you guarantee safety and security of information.  

Less is more!

Shipping costs are a turnoff. Many consumers abandon their carts just at the finish line because of this final hurdle. So, offer free shipping and seal the deal. Discounts and sales items must be in your face. Feature deals and reductions on your landing page with hard-to-miss, easily understandable images of slashed prices. Build some buzz around sales items with a sense of urgency.

Small trial samples in exchange for email details or a quick survey are another sweet deal. Everybody loves a sample. And you score business leads to follow up. The info you gather can help you to personalise user experience, and fine tune focused target marketing.

Related: Tips On How to Build Your First Ecommerce Business

That big red button

We have all encountered an enticing call-to-action button. One that offers the promise of a new start, that opens doors, that kicks in the rush of actualisation. A CTA that makes the customer feel like that button has their name on it is what it’s all about. ‘Buy Now’, ‘Add to Cart’, ‘Get Started’. The brand and lifestyle you are selling needs its own effective CTAs. They are the final frontier between deliberation and diving in.

The quick or the dead

First things last: Your ecommerce site had better load, and fast. This is vital. Already, 5 years back, failure to load with sufficient speed meant 1.73 billion GBP in lost sales. Consumer impatience is a fact. There are loads of options out there. Don’t be left dead in the water.

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