The USA, alongside China, is one the of world’s leading ecommerce markets. In 2014, it contributed to more than 55% of ecommerce sales worldwide. With a growth of 15% year on year, the USA is expected to maintain its position as the second largest market for ecommerce by 2018. Sales are predicted to soar from $304.91 billion (2014 figures) to a huge $500 billion. By the end of this year, online retail sales in the States are expected to grow by 15% on last year. What this says to UK and European retailers is that the USA is a prime destination for targeting international customers and boosting their online sales.
Where do European retailers begin?
In a country where each shopper will spend on average $1,700 online in 2015, exporting to the US market offers an ideal opportunity for brands and retailers, but it also demands a well-thought-out strategy. When entering a country so far from home, significant technical, logistical, legal, marketing and financial investment is required. Integrating with leading local marketplaces open to third-party vendors provides a real risk-free solution. It’s also one of the best ways to gain visibility as brands and retailers can leverage the marketing and reach these popular American websites with ease.
However, before expanding into a region as large as the USA, it is key to get the right balance between supply and demand. Each marketplace has its own integration system and way of operating. This means that prior to distribution on these channels, retailers must ensure that the audience, product structure, currency changes, multiple payment options and order process can be managed by the business.
Furthermore, non-US brands and retailers must ensure their fulfillment services and options are reliable and efficient. In order to get the edge over local competitors, it’s also important to keep shipping costs competitive. A high level of customer service combined with a streamlined management of returns is also essential. In addition, as social media was born and bred in the States, bad customer experience can be communicated very quickly and can be damaging for a business’ reputation. Indeed, a large proportion of consumers are now browsing social networks, to help guide them in their purchasing decisions. With this in mind, it’s vital to have a presence on social media, be it customer service oriented, brand building or promotional.
What are the key online marketplaces in the US?
There are multiple marketplaces where brands and retailers can set up shop and sell online in the USA. Aside from eBay and Amazon, there is huge opportunity to integrate with local marketplaces. Others worth noting include Walmart, Rakuten.com and Best Buy.
Nevertheless, it’s initially a good idea to spend time on the leading e-commerce sites like Amazon (the most prominent marketplace globally) and eBay, both of which have dominated the market for a long time. However, there are a few requirements to tick off before being allowed to sell on these marketplaces. Given the maturity of the American ecommerce market, it’s vital to streamline your processes and utilise your data to the full in order to gain advantage over your competitors.
UK-based and European retailers have all the tools they need to succeed in the US market, it’s just a case of implementing them. Technology such as marketplace management solutions are increasingly available and help to streamline the process of making your products visible on the right websites. It’s clear that the USA will remain a leader in the ecommerce space and we expect it to continue to be the destination of choice for international brands in the years to come.
By Greg Zemor, co-Founder of marketplace distribution solution Neteven