Some global themes from recent events

Over the past month, I’ve had the great fortune of taking part in three fantastic events: Forrester’s own Marketing & Strategy Summit in Shanghai, Demandware’s XChange Conference in Las Vegas, and Borderfree’s (formerly FiftyOne) Global eCommerce Forum here in New York. Several themes around global eCommerce came up in conversations at all three events:

Consumer online spending is driven by more than price in emerging eCommerce markets. In markets like China, it’s well established that consumers use the online channel to bargain-hunt. Yet there’s much discussion of the fact that consumers are moving beyond chasing the lowest prices online – instead, they are looking to trusted online retailers that provide a superior customer experience and guarantee authenticity.

International expansion involves a mix and match of different approaches. It’s now common to see companies taking a variety of approaches to global markets. Brands may operate a series of country-specific websites with local fulfillment, offer a branded store on a marketplace such as Tmall in China, and serve a large number of other markets through an international shipping model.  The one-size-fits-all approach has given way to a more complex set of different global options.

Hiring remains a key challenge. Companies never gush about the ease of hiring qualified eCommerce professionals anywhere in the world. On the contrary: Despite a surge in the number of digital training programs, finding the right people to lead new international ventures continues to vex digital businesses. In-demand skill sets for international teams include fluency in key foreign languages and an understanding of the corporate culture as well as the local market. Additionally, those who are brought in to help identify digital expansion opportunities are expected to come in with strong quantitative and analytical skills to synthesize the extensive data being generated by site visitors around the globe.

Retailers are expanding their global payment types. In my Globalization Of eCommerce In 2013 blog post, I highlighted the fact that payments would get much more local this year. The momentum is building, with retailers increasingly embracing a wide variety of payment types to meet the very different needs of consumers around the globe. Expansion of online payment types is a theme that comes up repeatedly as a key way to capture global online shoppers.

Next up for events this spring: eTail Latin America in Miami and Internet Retailer Conference & Expo in Chicago.