Winning Over International Consumers: A Strategic Guide for UK Brands

In the fast-paced world of ecommerce, brands are often struggling to continuously adapt and remain competitive. As global inflation pressures consumer spending and the cost-of-living crisis remains ever-present for so many, UK retailers are facing an 18-month low in non-essential spending, with many Brits prioritising savings over impulse buys.

In fact, according to the latest Barclays Corporate Spending report, overall retail spending declined by -0.4% in May 2024, the lowest year-on-year growth since September 2022 (-2.0%), not helped by – and no one mention it again – the weather!

To thrive in these turbulent times, it's becoming more crucial to explore international markets and tailor strategies to align with the evolving priorities and values of consumers across the globe. Every step of the shoppers' journey needs to be optimised, from the top of the marketing funnel and online shopping experience to your post purchase and returns processes. With global ecommerce expanding, UK brands have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into international markets. And that time is now. However, entering new markets requires a deep understanding of local consumer behaviour and that often means strategic adaptation and a meticulous approach, particularly when targeting the saturated US market. Brands need to demonstrate value, provide omnichannel shopping options, and leverage technology in order to tap into these new markets.

Demonstrating True Value to the Customer

In a market where consumers scrutinise every detail of their purchases, optimising the entire shopping journey is vital to ensure a positive experience even after the transaction is complete. Brands need to enhance their perceived value and build loyalty by providing an exceptional shopping experience from start to finish. Here’s how:

  • Strengthen Ties With Your Shoppers: Show your appreciation to shoppers by implementing compelling loyalty programs, personalised discounts, and tailored promotions exclusively for your VIP customers. An enjoyable shopping-like return experience can improve customer satisfaction and encourage them to be repeat customers
  • Streamline The Returns Process: A robust and hassle-free returns policy is vital. Effortless returns workflows instil confidence in customers, leading to purchases from the brand. This confidence in the returns process can significantly impact customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Leverage Helpdesks: Utilising helpdesks like Gorgias consolidate communication channels, resulting in shorter resolution times and automated customer experiences. This not only improves customer retention but also reduces support costs, enhancing the overall customer experience
  • Employ Marketing Automation: Leveraging tools to automate the way you connect with your customers, like Klaviyo, enables brands to offer a more personalised shopping experience. Whether it's automating updates to customer profiles based on return behaviour or increasing engagement with push notifications, these automated interactions help brands tailor the entire shopping experience, both pre and post-purchase, to meet individual customer needs

Omnichannel Shopping Options

Brands need to enhance their retail approach by adopting an omnichannel strategy that includes a POS (point-of-sale) system, allowing customers to move effortlessly between online and offline shopping. According to recent research, omnichannel customers purchase 250% more frequently than those using a single channel. To build a successful omnichannel strategy, it’s crucial for brands to capture data across key touchpoints and ensure accurate inventory tracking. Leveraging a POS system can:

  • Streamline Order Management: Leveraging a POS system enhances order management by offering the ability to select restock locations, process multiple returns or exchanges in a single order, and override return policies to improve customer satisfaction. The detailed reporting and analytics feature of POS systems provides crucial insights into product performance. By capturing data on why certain items are returned, businesses can make informed decisions to adjust their inventory and respond to customer behaviour changes
  • Save on Logistics Costs: Implementing a POS system that supports in-store returns helps brands avoid the packing and shipping processes, leading to substantial reductions in shipping costs. Additionally, the system's reporting features enable your team to identify trends, forecast demand, and adjust inventory according to business needs. Customers benefit from a straightforward return experience, and brands save on logistics expenses- a win-win!
  • Drive In-Store Traffic: When your shoppers are happy, your brand thrives. A significant part of this is having a POS system that meets shoppers' demands. Draw customers back into your store by integrating a POS system that supports start online, drop off in-store convenience. This approach turns every return visit into an opportunity for additional sales, boosting your bottom line while enhancing customer satisfaction

Scaling Growth Strategically and Leveraging Tech

Expanding into new international markets requires a thoughtful, strategic and phased approach, prioritising markets with high sales growth potential. Testing and iterating strategies before expanding further can ensure more sustainable growth. For example, customising the site and messaging to each market is a crucial part. By leveraging technology and working with partnering with companies like Global-e you can elevate your international ecommerce operations, seamlessly. This includes localising content, standardising sizing information, incorporating various shopping currencies, offering multiple payment methods, and optimising delivery options to provide a native customer experience.

With the adoption of tech, you can:

  • Understand Customer Journey and Behaviour: Get to know your customers at every phase of their journey and analyse their behaviour after purchase through insightful data. By understanding how shoppers interact with your products, you can make smarter inventory decisions and keep your customers informed, fostering trust during the post-purchase experience. Insights into customer return patterns can help you refine strategies to improve satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Customise the Returns Experience: As your business expands, managing complex return policies can become more difficult. Tools like Loop’s Workflows enable your team to segment return policies automatically, offering different options to various customers. For example, you can extend return windows for VIPs, provide free returns for loyalty members, and apply stricter rules and return fees to dissuade bad actors.
  • Save Time and Reduce Operational Costs: Maintaining customer and team satisfaction during your brand's growth poses a challenging balancing act. To enhance your commitment to quality and service and foster existing customer relationships while attracting new ones, brands should embrace innovative technology. For instance, implementing customised, automated return policies allow customers to manage their returns independently across all types. This improves the overall customer experience, saves time, cuts costs, and enables your team to prioritise building stronger relationships with customers.

A Path to International Success

For UK brands, venturing into international markets can unlock immense potential. By understanding and adapting to the unique preferences of global consumers, demonstrating value, embracing omnichannel retail, personalising experiences, and scaling strategically, brands can position themselves for long-term success. But the ever-evolving ecommerce landscape demands continuous innovation and responsiveness to consumer trends. With all of this in mind, UK brands can remain competitive AND profitable AND do it on a global stage.