The Best D2C Platforms for International eCommerce
The importance of D2C
In recent years, we’ve seen a steady shift toward eCommerce adoption on platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento among businesses keen to expand beyond physical retail, and across borders. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, this uptake skyrocketed when the lockdown, or “circuit breaker”, in Singapore mandated staying at home. Traditionally brick-and-mortar players, across even small and medium enterprises, were forced to pivot their strategies to cope with the new challenges.
Recent reports revealed that Singapore tracked 23% growth in eCommerce visits in the first 6 months of 2020 alone, and 51% growth year on year in average online basket size. Over a third of Singaporean consumers who had never shopped online before did so for the first time during the pandemic, discovering the convenience of home delivery. The opportunity presented for eCommerce is ripe, with Singapore’s eCommerce expected to grow to US$10 billion (S$13.4 billion) by 2026, and ASEAN’s sector to reach US$145 billion by 2025.
What is a D2C Platform?
D2C or direct-to-consumer platforms allow enterprises to market and sell their products directly to their customers, eliminating the need for any intermediaries. The difference between B2C or business-to-consumer and D2C is that in B2C, manufacturers usually rely on retailers (like Amazon, Shopee or Lazada) to sell their products.
With research suggesting that D2C brand sites provide a more immersive and authentic experience to consumers - who are typically willing to spend on average 20% more there than on third-party marketplaces - it’s not difficult to understand why D2C remains an invaluable channel in the consumer purchase journey.
What should one look for in a great eCommerce platform?
1. Access to international markets
If you want to create a globally equipped eCommerce site, your D2C platform needs to be compatible with your target countries. A great D2C platform has access to international markets as well as a presence among the customer demographics in those different countries.
eCommerce platforms make money when their customers make money. Therefore, the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of an eCommerce platform indicates its current market size and how well the customers’ businesses are flourishing. Shopify, for example, has merchants in 175 nations and Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of US$175.4 billion internationally as of 2021.
2. Powerful add-ons and integrations
The top eCommerce platforms usually have a dedicated app store supporting more than 1,000 third-party integrations, plugins, and extensions. These integrations and plugins make it possible to streamline your orders, shipping, promotions and user experience with automation and require little to no management.
Magneto has the ability to communicate with over 140 API integrations, making the manufacturer-to-consumer transaction easier.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all to how much it would cost to build and host an eCommerce website. At the lower end, eCommerce platforms offer services starting from USD 20 to USD 30 a month. A custom eCommerce system may cost around USD 300 per month.
Depending on your choice of the shipping carrier, your cost of shipping will vary. Additionally, eCommerce platforms also charge transaction fees and credit card rates. Therefore, analyse if a D2C platform charges any hidden fees after you subscribe to their service.
Now that you understand how to pick the best eCommerce platform for your business, here are three of the best online selling sites in Singapore.
Best D2C eCommerce Platforms
Perhaps the most recognizable eCommerce platform, Shopify is the largest eCommerce-only platform with more than 4.4 million merchants globally, with a reported GMV of US$175.4 billion in 2021. It supports multiple languages and lets you ship your products to around 133 countries. In Singapore, Shopify powers over 6,600 eCommerce sites.
The platform provides small and medium-sized businesses with powerful back-office functions and a single overview of their transactions, making every aspect easy to manage and update. Shopify is also used by big names such as Tesla, Budweiser, Red Bull and the New York Stock Exchange.
It is highly flexible and user-friendly, with more than 3,000 third-party integration and plugins available. It has an intuitive dashboard that makes it easy to manage and control your store without any technical knowledge.
To open up international storefronts, you will either have to get a different domain or create a subdomain for each region. If you plan to sell your products in more than a handful of countries, go for Shopify Plus.
It offers 750 extensions and 81 payment gateways that you can choose from and integrate with, including choices like PayPal, Google Pay, Stripe, AmazonPay, Square, and Apple Pay.
It’s notably easy to use and manage, as well as cost-efficient. There is no cost to use the platform, although the additional paid features may be worth the investment. The paid plugins and add-ons, such as one-page checkout, automated email marketing through MailChimp and translation services, are a great value add.
Finally, Magento is another eCommerce platform that offers full customisability and a range of solutions for businesses of different sizes and industries. Parent company Adobe Inc reported strong 5% year on year growth to USD $826 million for 2020’s fiscal second quarter for its digital experience segment, which includes Magento.
While Magento powers only about 1% of all top global CMS (Content Management Systems) sites, it is used by many high-end and multinational companies like Bulgari, Land Rover and Fred Perry. In Singapore, it is also used by popular women’s clothing label Love, Bonito.
What platform should you use?
The global platform your D2C eCommerce store decides to choose depends largely on your needs, goals and technical abilities.
WooCommerce is ideal for WordPress-based eCommerce websites. WooCommerce is ideal for those D2C manufacturers that are comfortable working with WordPress and want to minimise expenses on their shopping platform.
Shopify, however, is ideal for those entrepreneurs who don’t want to spend a large amount of time dealing with the technical aspects of setting up an online store. Shopify is easy to use and offers a high level of customer support, which could be helpful for first time eCommerce stores in the eCommerce realm. Of course, this comes with a price and a higher monthly subscription fee, depending on the services used.
Magento is perfectly tailored for developers who want to have the freedom to add their code and tweaks to their website pages without being restricted to a predetermined template or layout. It’s also a good choice for companies that have professional web developers on the payroll because the platform is highly customisable for those with coding skills, and is most popular among apparel brands who make up the biggest share of 11% of their customer base.
How to get started in D2C?
Before you choose the ideal shopping platform for your D2C business, it’s important to first take these important steps to get started in the eCommerce industry.
Do market research
It can be challenging to completely revamp your existing technology, services and products to fit the needs of your domestic market. Thankfully, international trade has become easier than ever due to eCommerce.
Today, the international trading market is the most liquid asset market in the world, with a total value seventeen times greater in 2019 than global GDP. International expansion has never been simpler, and the opportunities are ample. Identify the most valuable market for the product or service you currently offer and go from there. Today it is relatively easy to create a website and arrange marketing, shipping and payment options for your ideal customer demographic.
Validate new markets with test launches
Of course, the biggest mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is investing a lot of money and time into an idea without first testing proof of concept. Through low-cost experimentation, you can roll out soft launches of your product in your target market to understand how your offering resonates with consumers, and adapt accordingly.
How does Airwallex help D2C eCommerce go global?
Airwallex helps D2C eCommerce businesses be international from day one with a truly global business account. Airwallex achieves this by making it seamless for you to collect, hold, convert and pay in your currency of choice - without the expensive FX fees.
To put things into context, your FX fees could add up to $5,000 on a $100,000 international transaction. $5,000 that you could be re-investing into growing your business.
This happens where most major banks charge an average of 3 - 5% on FX, as compared to Airwallex is as low as 0.4% on major currencies. To see these rates first hand, check out the Airwallex Currency Conversion Calculator here.
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