Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…these events are commonly associated with online deals and discounts. One of the attractions of shopping online of course has to do with getting better prices, but offering attractive pricing is not enough to ensure success in today’s world of e-commerce.
Speaking at a recent webinar on cross-border selling during the holiday season co-organized by Singapore Business Review and PayPal, Zalora’s Senior Strategy Director for Southeast Asia, Quiron Cunha, said that online sellers increasingly are expected to deliver a unique customer experience that goes beyond pricing.
He explained that the best online merchants are moving from “transactional to inspirational behaviour”, providing customers with a unique and personalised experience. For some, this may even involve the use of AI and VR technology which further blurs the divide between online and offline shopping.
Echoing a similar view, fellow panelist and PayPal’s Head of Sales & Strategic Growth, SEA, Pooja Sanan, pointed out the importance of deepening customer engagement. With shoppers feeling festive, playing to the holiday spirit with things like customised gift suggestions can help make personal connections that build long-term loyalty, she said.
PayPal’s Digitize & Thrive report shows that 60% of shoppers are likely to become repeat buyers after enjoying a personalised online retail experience. Such experience is created based on retailers’ insights on customer behaviour and data, which should be something front of mind for all online retailers.
Payments as an enabler
Seamless payment is at the heart of the online customer experience, and merchants that can offer payment convenience will have a competitive edge over others. In fact, 40% of online shoppers say they are likely to abandon a purchase if their preferred method of payment is not available, according to PayPal’s global survey across 13 markets.
This takes on greater significance when merchants are looking to sell cross-border, as a familiar payment experience can go a long way in boosting brand image and winning customers in new markets.
Rakesh Krishnamuti, PayPal’s Director of Enterprise Sales, Southeast Asia, who also spoke at the event, said that the spike in e-commerce adoption globally coincided with a greater willingness among shoppers to try a wider range of digital payment options.
He also cited an increased adoption of digital wallets for cross-border purchases – with PayPal being the most preferred payment option for online shoppers in places such Australia and Germany. And while credit cards remain the most frequently used payment method by online shoppers in Singapore, PayPal has been increasing its market share and is not far behind - being the payment solution of choice for 31% of all online cross-border transactions here.
Build strategic partnerships
Consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping – whether domestic or cross-border – and merchants can no longer afford to remain offline, said Zalora’s Quiron Cunha. For merchants who are concerned about lacking technical knowledge or a big budget to maintain an online presence, he pointed to the availability of ecosystem partners, such as PayPal, who are able to onboard and guide online sellers.
With PayPal adding 16,000 merchants per day to its platform in Q2 this year, it proves that starting an online business can be easy and fast. In fact, with a single dashboard, PayPal’s partners are able to manage business operations, get insights into new markets and manage inventory and supply chain with the help of workflow automation tools.
The global e-commerce market is booming, and 2021 is set to be another record-breaking year with holiday season revenues expected to grow 11% from the previous year to reach $206.9bn, according to forecasts by eMarketer. Cross-border commerce represents unlimited possibilities, and merchants who are bold to take the plunge with the right partner in providing a seamless and personalised online experience are well placed to thrive.