With the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping trends have accelerated. Some specialists are saying e-commerce will stay as strong as it is today. But at this stage, it is still hard to be sure that these new shopping behaviors have been changed for good across all sectors.
I can only respond for myself. Since chaos has befallen our world, my partner and I have started to have groceries and pet supplies delivered to our home. Cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day became overwhelming, so we began to order from restaurants more often. Plus, we really wanted to support local places that we missed and loved. But as the government relaxed restrictions, these pandemic-created habits quickly fell away.
I also found that, for me, ordering in didn’t apply to other categories. Over the last nine months, I didn’t buy any clothes or accessories online. I’m the kind of person who needs to try things on, and not even the pandemic made that change. Many of my friends, however, seem to have discovered the wonders of online shopping and plan to keep taking advantage of it.
The one thing I think will stick for me is online gifting. I’ve been an expat for over six years and before this pandemic, I always thought I’d be able to see and be with my loved ones to demonstrate how much I care face to face.
Now that’s changed. It may seem obvious, but sometimes it takes a change of this scale to make you realize life is extremely fragile and relationships are the most valuable thing one can have. Demonstrating how much you care for someone TODAY, on a birthday, or during a difficult time makes a huge difference.
There were many times this year when I couldn’t be there to cry or celebrate with friends and family. So, besides using Skype, Google Meet, WhatsApp video, FaceTime, Google Duo, and Zoom (phew…) more frequently, I’ve also adopted the habit of demonstrating love through flowers and gifts of all sorts.
I have to say, though, international shopping is quite challenging. For the sake of speed and low delivery costs, going with local vendors is the only real option. But finding retailers that accept international payment methods or that simply have a trustworthy e-commerce platform can be a hard task.
On top of the relationship aspect, there’s also the fact that working remotely is becoming more acceptable and normal. Many companies are adopting a more flexible policy, so employees can not only work from home but work from nearly anywhere in the world.
With all of this in mind, it’s clear that international online shopping has huge room to grow, and therefore presents a great market opportunity. Those who are not yet online need to be. Those who are already there need to realize their market is way bigger than they think and optimize their checkout experiences and transactional emails while ensuring that they can:
- Accept payment methods from other countries
- Recognize foreign billing addresses and formatting
- Display prices in multiple currencies
- Communicate with consumers in different languages—in the shopping experience and at the customer support level
- Be transparent about all the steps of order processing and fulfillment
Credit card companies will also have to make international shopping easier. While it may be good security practice to block purchase attempts from online stores a person doesn’t usually buy from (especially foreign ones), making authorization of these “suspicious” purchases easier is key to a frustration-free online experience.
Recently, for the birthday of one of my best friends who lives in Brazil, I spent days attempting to purchase a gift.
- Many websites wouldn’t accept a foreign credit card—and I’m talking about global brands such as Sephora. Even worse, I didn’t find out about the problem until days after I placed my order and decided to log in to check its status.
- On another website, my bank blocked my purchase and I didn’t receive an email to authorize the purchase until much later.
- Though Amazon accepts foreign credit cards and offers an excellent, unified, and consistent user experience across different countries, the offering and delivery speed of Brazil-based amazon.com.br are nothing like the flagship Amazon.com.
After days of frustration, I finally found a global brand that offered beautiful gift wraps, the option to not disclose the price, and the ability to pay for express delivery. Hooray loccitane.com.br for thinking about gifters! 🙂