Black Friday And Cyber Monday: Why Online Retailers Lost Money This Year

Everyone can now breathe a little sigh of relief as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Many of you may already be breaking out the champagne and planning how you’ll spend your bonus in 2018. But what if I told you that your numbers could have been better? And I mean a lot better.

For decades, Black Friday has driven Americans to wait hours in line for doorbuster deals. But the brick-and-mortar holiday has changed over the years. Millions of people now shop online, electing to forego the crazy, sometimes dangerous crowds for the convenience of their computer screens. Our love of online shopping has even birthed new shopping events, the most popular being Cyber Monday.

And therein lies the opportunity. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer exclusively reserved for Americans. The shopping holidays have become a global sensation. So how can retailers capitalize on this industry shift and increase sales next year? Here are a few tips that will ensure 2018 breaks all records.

Expand your reach.

Technology provides a wealth of information for business owners. Now more than ever, retailers can identify customer traffic, trends and behaviors. For those seeking to expand their reach in 2018, look for low-hanging fruit. Start by targeting traffic from English-speaking countries. Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong are ideal markets to explore.

If you’re wondering how to position your message with global audiences, consider the following: Amplify the fact that you’re an American retailer. International customers love our pop culture, entertainment industry and, above all, quality. So, when you expand your reach, position yourself along these lines.

Optimize your content.

International customers are well-educated shoppers. According to PayPal Cross-Border Consumer Research, they’re more likely to shop cross-border than their United States counterparts. They expect retailers to provide them with helpful shipping information, so make sure you offer it. Whether you ship internationally or not, it’s vital to state your policy.

If you don’t ship internationally, consider your options. Many retailers elect to partner with cross-border enablers. These companies — highlighted by the Huffington Post, which includes my company — specialize in international delivery and enable retailers to expand coverage without changing how they operate. Simply put, cross-border enablers are an excellent option for retailers looking to explore international expansion.

If you do ship internationally, explain where you deliver and if customers are responsible for customs duty and tax. Your customers will appreciate the disclosure and your teams will benefit, too: Customer service will receive fewer inquiries, and marketing can capitalize on positive customer experiences.

Consider a long-term solution.

A permanent cross-border solution is the way to go for many retailers. In fact, the time to expand is now as cross-border solutions are moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach and toward providing retailers with more options to fit their needs. When searching for a solution for your business, it should cover at least three basic needs for your international customers.

The first is total landed cost. Retailers should understand that international checkout requires more information than domestic checkout. A customer will need to see their total landed cost, a calculation identical to what current U.S. customers see but with an additional line with customs duty and tax applied. Whether you collect these fees at checkout or not, customers will want transparency.

Next, and most obvious, is delivery. While retailers can ship with a wide variety of carriers, the selection should align with customer expectations. For instance, it isn’t wise to send high-end fashion products using a slow, non-trackable carrier. The same is true for low-value items. Utilizing an overnight delivery option doesn’t always match the need or the want. Retailers should consider a cross-border solution that provides carrier and rate flexibility.

And last, in a world where time equals money, retailers should consider how orders are fulfilled. We’ve seen how retail giants like Amazon have dominated the market based on their competitive prices and quick delivery. Undoubtedly, their success is unique but something all retailers should consider.

Whichever cross-border solution you select, it should complement your business, not complicate it. Retailers should seek a solution that improves profits and reduces undue time and cost.

Look toward 2018.

For those who neglect international shoppers, next year will be an uphill battle. For many, marketing and communication departments will continue to think inside the box. To my chagrin, boardrooms and lecture halls will abound with fancy buzzwords and wild ideas, focusing on new social media ideas, rethinking content strategies and employing new advertising agencies, all in the hopes to grow a few points.

But for those that heed my advice, you’re going break records in 2018.


This article was featured on Forbes. David Lindberg is VP Global Marketing of Borderlinx