Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2020–2021

Nowadays, people spend more time than before looking for products online – and by comparing different products or services, they observe that there may be other marketplaces or retailers abroad that sell an even nicer, better, or cheaper product than they could find in their home market.

At the same time, many merchants see a world of opportunity beyond borders, as the cross-border ecommerce market continues to grow at a fast pace and to gain in popularity. Estimates suggest that, by 2027, the global cross-border B2C ecommerce market will reach no less than EUR 3.9 trillion.

Considering the current context, the Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2020–2021 is highly relevant for all the players that want to gain a comprehensive view of the global payments and ecommerce market. The articles, the interviews, and the research encompassed in our report supply a sharp overview of the main challenges and opportunities that might arise when selling across borders. Our key objective is to help merchants succeed in expanding globally and growing revenue, by providing information on what it takes to flourish. With that in mind, together with our contributors, we have decided to touch upon trends and topics that are related to this market.

Intrinsic developments within the industry

In-store retail sales have continuously declined in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This change of perspective allowed for an even steeper growth of the ecommerce industry, and the impact of the crisis upon consumer behaviour cannot be negated. Its effects, it seems, are here to stay, and in his contribution Jorij Ambraham of Ecommerce Foundation estimates that the industry will see a 40% growth in 2020, compared to 2019, registering one of the most impressive jumps in modern history.

Raising the bar in digital shopping services to match consumers’ demands

Worldwide, consumers across different generations changed their buying behaviour, as the lockdown that was in place in many countries forced them to reconsider their options and shop online. Therefore, the perfect time for expanding across borders is now! There are many factors that must be considered, especially since some of today’s consumers are relatively new to online shopping; but regardless of that, everyone just wishes to have a streamlined shopping experience, an optimised checkout page, virtual consultations, and so on.

With retail websites reaching almost 22 billion visits in June 2020 (representing a huge 6 billion increase since January 2020), as the Payvision team states, it is vital to make the customer feel like home in the online space. This can be accomplished by personalising the online shopping experience as much as possible. Merchants need to localise their content, customise their offers, set up local customer support, or even tailor the checkout process to the customer’s preferences because a positive user experience is vital – 90% of marketers consider that personalisation is key when it comes to the future of online shopping, with 74% of consumers disliking it when the content is not personalised and 48% of consumers admitting that they spend more when their experience is tailored to their preferences.

Localising the payments process – by understanding the regional payment preferences of the customers and integrating local payment methods into their checkout experiences – is also vital, as Arik Shtilman of Rapyd stresses upon in his article. He also states that, on average, 78% of all online shoppers around the globe abandon their carts, and abandonment rates are higher for cross-border transactions. There are other elements that should not be treated lightly, such as language optimisation and currency conversion – and by accepting payments in local currencies, businesses can also mitigate the risk of chargebacks.

These payment-related steps that need to be taken can be cumbersome for merchants, and that is why we expect to see even more alliances with modern fintech and ecommerce solution providers that can streamline the process. Another vital aspect is represented by logistics, as some of the main things online and multichannel retailers should consider when selling across borders are making sure that the products sold are well-stocked and being able to rely on a speedy delivery service.

Marketplaces – still on the rise

Marketplaces are becoming more and more popular every year, mainly due to the level of trust they provide to the customer and their large number of products available at great prices. Accordingly, the technologies that have use cases in the ecommerce sector are continuously evolving; therefore, even though relevant developments in this space have been happening for years now, they continue to change in a split second. Most of the marketplaces categories already have established leaders in most regions – such as the US (e.g., Amazon, eBay), China (e.g., Alibaba, JD.com), Europe (e.g., Carrefour, Zalando, Otto), or Africa (e.g., Jumia).

Features like shopping assistance, augmented and virtual reality, or voice commerce have a lot of potential and enhance the experience by making it more appealing to consumers. Other factors that can make a difference are whether a marketplace is mobile-friendly (considering the millions of smartphone users), whether it offers numerous payment methods (to satisfy all the customers), and whether it has a reviews’ section (which is relevant because customers usually want to check other people’s opinions on certain products or services prior to buying them).

We estimate that most of these trends are here to stay, and we expect to see even more developments when it comes to online shopping platforms, in both horizontal and vertical markets.

The report’s structure

For this year’s edition of the Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report, we have decided to divide the contributions into five chapters, each representing a main frame of today’s cross-border picture.

COVID-19 impact on the global payments and ecommerce space

The COVID-19 crisis has a massive impact on all businesses, be it positive or negative. However, even though this situation is unprecedented in the history of globalised trade, Limonetik argues that the introduction of technological advances and new business models will help businesses recover and adapt to the new standard. The silver lining is that, as PPRO reinforces, throughout 2020, we have seen an acceleration toward ecommerce, and the volume of global cross-border ecommerce grew by 21% in the first six months of this year. Banking Circle talks about the post-pandemic global banking scene, touching upon the important role of financial infrastructure providers, who deliver new technological solutions that play an increasingly vital part in the financial ecosystem, helping banks and payment businesses improve cross-border payments for their clients.

Mark Beresford of Edgar, Dunn & Company suggests that cross-border payments are at a new crossroads following COVID-19, and from now on economies of scale, M&A, cost efficiencies, and new pricing strategies will be the new normal to secure new revenue sources. Joshua Chong from Kapronasia adds that when it comes to the actions taken by ecommerce platforms to streamline the process, the sales strategies designed to increase purchase amounts and basket sizes together with new features such as instant delivery (with the goal of improving the consumer’s experience) are worth mentioning. Therefore, ecommerce posts the best prospects for growth over the next years, while cross-border sales are expected to continue to increase their share, Euromonitor concludes.

Taking the pulse of the cross-border ecommerce market

The cross-border ecommerce space still shows an impressive growth potential, and some of the main aspects that merchants should consider are mobile enhancement, localising the payment and shopping experience, establishing trust, and making use of the latest technological tools.

As Lazada displays in this chapter, livestreaming is one such example, representing a new frontier for online shopping, digitalising businesses, creating new jobs, and keeping brands and sellers connected to their consumers. What’s more, according to Euromonitor, a greater focus on virtual brand engagement and the consolidation of the fintech space are also among some of the key developments that are expected to take place in the near future.

IMRG provides an insightful analysis based on a new index they launched in September 2020, with data from around 200 retailers on the Global-e platform – tracking online sales growth from UK retail sites to cross-border destinations. The regional perspective is taken even further by Data Insight’s article, centred around facts and figures characterising the cross-border ecommerce market in Russia.

How to succeed in selling across borders

There are many success stories revolving around selling across borders, and we have some tips and tricks to help merchants navigate these – perhaps – troubled waters. In this chapter, we feature valuable insights from companies such as Cybersource, explaining why some merchants found it easier than others to deliver the seamless digital experiences today’s consumers demand. Furthermore, Ixopay elaborates on why it is relevant to optimise the existing payment strategy prior to expanding in new markets, while Nexway shares insights on how companies are managing the market disruption, while also remaining resilient during these uncertain times. MRC adds to this picture by discussing the intricacies of cross-border transactions and providing relevant advice regarding acceptance rates and their impact on revenue.

Key considerations on cross-border payments

During the last decade, we have been witnessing continuous changes when it comes to the way in which people choose to pay. That is why, in this section of the report, we decided to take a closer look at the particularities of cross-border payments, emphasising the new developments that impact payment preferences across regions and elaborating on what it takes to optimise payments performance when working with multiple PSPs/acquirers.

The insights are offered by players such as ACI Worldwide, presenting the payments challenges and trends cross-border merchants need to be prepared for in 2021 and beyond, Mastercard, touching upon digital payments and the touch-free transaction landscape, and Thunes, revealing the most common payment challenges faced by businesses that start out in emerging markets. Joseph Chan of AsiaPay talks about the digital transformation that takes place in APAC and the way in which the payments infrastructure is equipped to support this move towards digital, while also providing advice for merchants that want to boost cross-border conversion rates in this context. Discover Global Network shares the routes followed by RuPay, a card programme scheme in India, to build up the contactless payments mainstream in the country and ensure payment innovation and cross-border presence. Trustly completes the picture by elaborating on the rise of online banking e-payments across regions and the main benefits they present. Moreover, Sunil Jhamb of WL Payments explains why payment orchestration is so popular at the moment and shares tips for companies looking to replace their payment platform.

Liam Castagna, Head of Payment at Insparx, talks about the importance of having a multi-acquirer setup and shares useful pointers on the relevance of benchmarking different payment routes, while Dilip Asbe, MD and CEO of NPCI, elaborates on the key developments that can be observed in India’s instant payments space and the urgency in driving financial inclusion and creating an evolved digital ecosystem to cater to the diverse requirements of the Indian population. Another hot topic featured in this chapter is represented by the implications of the European Commission Retail Payments Strategy on cross-border payments in Europe, a subject tackled by Robrecht Vandormael, Secretary General of Payments Europe. Peter Theunis of Radar Payments rounds off the chapter by elaborating on the way in which fintechs have changed the game of cross-border payments, with their unbeatable technology.

Insights into the thriving marketplaces ecosystem

As online shopping platforms are constantly gaining ground, we found it imperative to take the pulse of the marketplaces sector, including in this section insights provided by prominent industry experts. Luiz Henrique Didier Jr. of Bexs Bank presents the key payment challenges for marketplaces in the Brazilian market and touches upon the most relevant emerging trends impacting cross-border marketplaces in the region, while Sami Louali of Jumia talks about the main challenges encountered by African marketplaces when it comes to payments and financial services. The global perspective is enriched by Floriane Gramlich, Director of Product at Zalando Payments, who shares insights on how to handle friction while providing unrivalled user experience in the PSD2 (European) context.

Other specialists sharing their expert knowledge in this chapter are John Caplan of Alibaba, who explains why it is extremely important to seize the marketplace opportunity in the B2B segment, Masha Cilliers on behalf of Be | Shaping the Future, pointing out why the risk and fraud management tasks for marketplaces should not be taken lightly, and Vanessa Culver, Senior Manager of Payments at Zillow, who sheds light into how to build a strategy around key payment challenges when it comes to transnational marketplaces.

Marketplaces – overview per target audiences and regions

Subsequently, the spotlight is on online shopping platforms. Being driven by the industry’s need for a comprehensive overview focused on marketplaces, we conclude the report with an in-house research, a one-of-a-kind analysis of the players in this space. Considering the diversity of this ecosystem, it was of the utmost importance to classify them by taking into account three pertinent variables: target audience, vertical, and region. The target audiences considered are B2C, B2B, and C2C, and the verticals covered are consumer goods and services, food and consumer goods delivery, mobility, hospitality and travel, finance, gig market and recruiting, and education. The infographic features players across all regions (Asia–Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, North America), while also including the global ones (those who are present in three or more of these regions). With this endeavour, we aim to provide a complete overview of the cross-border ecommerce market, so that our readers gain a better understanding of the diverse players from all over the globe.

Our commitment

To help the players in the cross-border payments and ecommerce industry understand the opportunities that arise, throughout the report we provide up-to-date perspectives on this environment. The main subjects tackled here are relevant in depicting today’s cross-border ecosystem and in determining the most successful path toward growing an ecommerce business globally.

We invite you to download your complimentary copy here, explore the Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report, and stay one step ahead in these peculiar times.

Enjoy your reading!

About the author – Raluca Constantinescu

Raluca is Senior Editor at The Paypers. Passionately curious, she is fascinated by the way in which technology and innovation impact our lives, and she is always keen on discovering the latest trends in the payments industry. After graduating in Foreign Languages and Literature, Raluca developed a genuine passion for editorial activities, having an extensive background in editing and publishing.

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