Internet Retailing: Insight around the world
Rick Kirk, Sales Director, B2C Europe
Research conducted by B2C Europe among 2,442 consumers across eight European countries has found that returns are a huge consideration for customers during their international online shopping journey. The returns process can even determine whether the purchase is completed or not. Some 54% of respondents stated that they consider returning online purchases before even completing the payment.
With returns already at the forefront of consumers’ minds, etailers must, therefore, ensure that it’s a key factor in the shopping process.
With 23% of respondents stating that they would not purchase from an international website if the returns policy was unclear, it is obvious that retailers need to take returns more seriously. What is more, 36% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop on international websites if they could be certain about the returns policies. This means that etailers have a big opportunity to attract international shoppers – they just need to communicate clear and simple information throughout the customer’s online journey.
Being upfront about policies – and pricing – can reassure consumers who may be reluctant about making international purchases. Although 27% of respondents said they would not purchase from a foreign online store if the cost of returns is high, it’s better to make this clear at the outset rather than deliver a nasty surprise later.
There is a huge European opportunity that awaits online retailers, regardless of Brexit negotiations, and getting the returns process right will be an important step to success in this growing and exciting market.
Steven Kramer, CEO, WorkJam
Walmart [IRDX RWMT] is making some major adjustments to its staffing strategy. Over the next few months, the retail giant will cut roughly 7,000 in-store administrative jobs to pull workers out of the backrooms and onto the selling floors. This move comes as part of an ongoing effort to place emphasis on the in-store customer experience as online retailers like Amazon close in on Walmart’s lead.
For each individual store, Walmart will give two to three behind-the scenes employees in accounting and invoicing positions the option to transfer to customer-facing roles. With an influx of back-office workers moving to the selling floor for the first time, there’s potential for a significant skills gap. Here are three ways Walmart and retailers in similar positions can manage the transition and get workers up to speed quickly and effectively:
Embrace technology: Employee engagement platforms allow managers to distribute training materials via desktop or mobile devices. This quickly onboards employees shifting positions and makes information simple and readily accessible. On top of that, managers save time they would’ve spent individually training each new employee – giving them more time on the sales floor, too.
Ensure consistency: Each retailer has their own company culture and, as a result, their own preferred customer service model. There are many ways to approach customer service and employee engagement platforms allow managers to specify requirements to their unique needs. With about 7,000 Walmart employees taking on customer service roles, management will want to make sure that training is unified across the board to align with the company’s voice.
Offer feedback and recognition: Going from punching numbers in the backroom to communicating with customers on the front lines is a major shift. Employee engagement applications allow employers to provide feedback and motivation to make sure the transition runs smoothly.
In the face of unavoidable pressure from ecommerce competitors, brick-and-mortar retailers must give customers a reason to seek out the in-store experience. By ensuring that training is quickly deployed, service is consistent, and top achievers are recognized, Walmart will be able to navigate this transition with agility.
Ralf Ohlhausen, Business Development Director, PPRO Group
Ecommerce in Asia is flourishing – with $770bn in transactions annually, the Asia-Pacific region leads the world. An expanding middle class, growing internet penetration and an improving infrastructure means the region will continue to drive global online retail over the next five years.
Access to financial services is a key stimulus for ecommerce. A lack of banking infrastructure in many countries in the region is exacerbated by barriers caused by geographical and physical access to banking services. Increased internet penetration will aid in removing these barriers, but with some areas having an account penetration of as low as 2%, many countries will continue to rely on cash as the main method of payment for some time to come. While, on average, 51% of the region’s population has access to an account with a financial institution, the extremely low income level of a significant proportion of the population results in a high overall percentage of unbanked people. In spite of its growing middle class, China’s traditional rural economy and vast territory results in the country accounting for more than 12% of the world’s unbanked population.
The expanding middle class is making a significant contribution to the growth of ecommerce across the Asia region. This group is expected to reach 1.7 billion by the year 2020, with China, India and Indonesia experiencing the greatest growth. With the increase in the number of options that ecommerce brings, consumers are also showing marked personal preferences. This, in turn, is leading to increased competition, with traditional retailers moving to having an online presence (either individually, or by using an online marketplace), and local businesses experiencing pressure from regional and global brands which want a share of the growing sector’s profits. Again, China is a leading force in both the regional and global economy.
Chloe Rigby, Editor, InternetRetailing.net
Czech retailer Alza is targeting the UK market through a new website and online marketing campaigns.
The retailer, which wins a place in the IREU Top500 research, was founded in 1994 and is well-known in its Czech Republic domestic market. It has a range of more than 50,000 products, from PCs, laptops and smartphones to appliances and health and beauty products. It has recently launched a UK site, at
alza.co.uk. It says the UK is a particularly attractive market for it thanks to high levels of consumer spending. In particular it cites figures suggesting that 91% of UK millennials own a smartphone.
Jiri Maly, Head of International Marketing, says: “The UK is a very important part of our international operations. We have invested significantly in providing an alternative source for consumers who are looking for the right products at the right price, and a quality of service to back up that with an established name that they can trust.”
The retailer promises UK delivery in between one and three days, through a partnership with Skynet Worldwide Express as it looks to compete with existing market leaders such as Amazon and Argos.
Maly adds: “We like to try and make things as simple as possible for our customers, especially if they need to make a warranty claim by offering a free home collection service or the option to return via post to our collection points.”
At the same time as targeting the UK, Alza is also focusing on Germany through its alza.de website. Alza is a Top150 company in the IREU research. It also wins a place in the Top50 in the Customer dimension, which reflects standards of customer service, Merchandising dimension and the Mobile and cross-channel dimension.