A 2024 anatomy of an optimised cross-border checkout experience

Immy Spence3 minutes
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A 2024 anatomy of an optimised cross-border checkout experience
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In the rapidly evolving world of eCommerce, the ability to provide an optimised checkout experience for international customers has become a critical factor for success. With the cross-border eCommerce market expected to reach a staggering US$7.9 trillion by 2030, calculates Statista, brands that fail to cater to global shoppers’ unique preferences and expectations risk missing out on a significant growth opportunity.

A recent study conducted by consulting firm Edgar, Dunn & Company in collaboration with global payments provider Airwallex, sheds light on the key factors that drive cross-border eCommerce success. 

The research, which surveyed 3,010 consumers across six countries – Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US, and the UK – and interviewed leading merchants, reveals the essential components of an optimised cross-border checkout experience.

The anatomy of an optimised cross-border checkout experience, according to the report – Cross-border eCommerce: Key trends and strategies for global success in 2024 – contains the following:

1. Localised pricing and payment options 

One of the most crucial aspects of catering to international customers is displaying prices in their local currency. The study found that an overwhelming 93% of consumers claim that seeing prices in their local currency significantly impacts their decision to purchase. By adapting to this fundamental preference, you can create a sense of familiarity and trust with your international customers, reducing the likelihood of cart abandonment and increasing conversions.

In addition to localised pricing, offering a wide range of payment options is central to success in the global eCommerce market. The research reveals that 77% of consumers will likely abandon their cart if their preferred payment method is unavailable. While credit and debit cards remain the most popular payment method across regions, many consumers now prefer alternative options such as digital wallets (for example Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal) and local payment methods (Alipay, WeChat Pay, and GrabPay). 

By providing a diverse range of payment options, you can cater to the individual preferences of your international customers, reducing friction in the checkout process and boosting conversions.

2. Transparency and competitive pricing 

Transparency is a crucial driver of trust in the cross-border eCommerce landscape. Customers expect clarity and honesty about the total cost of their purchase, including any additional fees. The research reveals that 35% of consumers are unlikely to return to a merchant after being charged hidden fees, such as currency conversion or international fees. This highlights the importance of being upfront about additional costs and taking steps to minimise these fees whenever possible.

Partnering with a global financial platform can help you eliminate unnecessary fees and offer competitive pricing to your international customers. By leveraging Airwallex’s advanced multi-currency solutions, customers can collect payments, convert currencies, and manage global fund flows all from a single platform, reducing costs and streamlining your operations. This, in turn, allows customers to, in turn, pass on savings to their customers, fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases.

3. Trust-building elements 

Building trust is paramount in the world of cross-border eCommerce. When purchasing from international sellers, consumers often seek reassurance and validation from their peers and influential figures, with social media and company websites being important here. The study finds that 75% of consumers say ratings and customer reviews play a more crucial role in buying from overseas merchants than domestic sellers.

To establish trust and credibility with an international audience, it’s a good idea to incorporate social proof into your checkout experience. This can include displaying customer testimonials, ratings, and reviews prominently on your product pages and throughout the checkout process. By showcasing the positive experiences of previous customers, you can alleviate potential concerns and increase confidence in your brand.

Additionally, partnering with local influencers can be a powerful way to build trust and expand your reach in new markets. Influencers have a unique ability to connect with their followers and lend credibility to the brands they endorse. Indeed, the research shows three-quarters of consumers say that endorsement from international influencers is likely to impact their trust in overseas merchants and their overall purchase decision when shopping on social media channels. By collaborating with influencers who align with your brand values and target audience, you can tap into their engaged communities and establish a strong presence in your target markets.

4. Optimised shipping and returns 

Shipping and returns are key components of the cross-border eCommerce experience, and consumers have high expectations in these areas. The research reveals that shipping cost and transparency are the most important considerations for consumers when evaluating an international merchant’s shipping policy, except for the US, where speed of delivery takes precedence.

Offering competitive shipping rates, clear and concise policies, and efficient delivery times is vital for meeting and exceeding customer expectations. 

Partnering with international logistics providers can streamline your cross-border operations and ensure a smooth and reliable shipping experience for your customers.

Returns and refunds are another crucial aspect of the cross-border eCommerce experience. The study found that 47% of consumers cite lengthy refund processing times as a significant challenge when shopping from overseas merchants. 

A transparent and efficient returns and refund process can address this concern. This might include providing pre-printed return labels, offering free returns, and processing refunds promptly. By prioritising the returns experience, you can build trust and loyalty with your international customers, encouraging them to shop with you again.

5. Seamless and secure payment processing 

Ensuring a seamless and secure payment process drives conversions and reduces cart abandonment in the cross-border eCommerce market. The research reveals that over half of consumers have experienced problems with blocked, declined, or unsuccessful payments to overseas merchants. This emphasises the importance of partnering with a reliable, experienced global payment processor or building in redundancy with multiple processors.

Airwallex’s advanced payment processing solutions can help you optimise your payment acceptance rates, manage fraud and risk, and ensure compliance with regional regulations while providing a seamless experience for your international customers. By taking advantage of Airwallex’s advanced technology and expertise, you can minimise payment failures, reduce cart abandonment, and increase conversions. 

Further, Airwallex’s multi-currency solutions enables customers to collect payments in multiple currencies, settle funds in their preferred currency, and manage global fund flows, all from a single platform. This streamlines operations, reduces costs, and allows them to focus on growing your business.

Lastly, eCommerce brands operating at scale may opt for a payment service provider (PSP) agnostic solution which aggregates multiple PSPs through one orchestrator. This is a solution Airwallex provides to businesses who want to build redundancy into their payment acceptance process while retaining control, oversight and centralised management of funds.

6. Localisation beyond pricing 

While displaying prices in local currencies is a crucial aspect of localisation, true localisation goes beyond pricing. To create an optimised cross-border checkout experience, adapt your checkout process to your target markets’ cultural norms, preferences, and behaviours.

This includes factors such as language, design, and communication style. By offering a fully localised checkout experience, you demonstrate your commitment to understanding and serving your international customers, fostering a sense of trust and connection that can drive long-term growth.

Localisation can also involve adapting your product offerings to suit the preferences and needs of your target markets. This can include offering locally popular products, tailoring your product descriptions and imagery to resonate with local audiences, and ensuring that your packaging and branding align with local cultural norms and expectations.

7. Mobile optimisation 

With the rapid growth of mobile commerce, optimising your checkout process for mobile devices is no longer a “nice to have”. Consumers across the globe are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to shop online, and a suboptimal mobile checkout experience can lead to high abandonment rates and lost sales.

To triumph in the cross-border eCommerce market, prioritise mobile optimisation, ensuring your checkout process is seamless, intuitive, and user-friendly across all devices. This includes responsive design, streamlined forms, and mobile-friendly payment options.

By investing in mobile optimisation, you can provide a superior user experience for your international customers, increasing conversions and driving long-term growth.

Ultimately, by incorporating these tips – localised pricing and payment options, transparency and competitive pricing, trust-building elements, optimised shipping and returns, seamless and secure payment processing, comprehensive localisation, and mobile optimisation – you can successfully tap into the growing cross-border eCommerce opportunity and drive international sales. 

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Immy Spence
Head of Sales SME & Growth, EMEA

Immy leads the Growth Sales function for Airwallex in EMEA, specialising in eCommerce payment solutions. Prior to Airwallex, Immy spent 6 years at Stripe working with strategic and enterprise businesses.

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