Marketplaces on top, cross-border surging and merchants feeling confident

January 8, 2018 by
Nico Hoeijmans

This article previously appeared in Cross-Border Magazine Nr.4, October 2017

Author: Cheng Liem Li, CCO – Payvision & Acapture

Since 2014, Payvision has been running the biggest annual global survey on cross-border e-commerce in the industry. This in-depth research seeks the opinions of key players from all aspects of online retail, including merchants, service providers and analysts, to take the pulse of the sector and offer key, actionable statistics for ambitious retailers strategizing for the coming years. Here are the main takeaways from this year’s edition.

Cross-border e-commerce confidence high
Every year, the survey begins by asking respondents how much they agree with a key statement: Cross-border e-commerce has proven to be profitable. Last year, for the first time, the results showed a dip in confidence levels, with a 5% lower rate of agreement than in 2015.
This year, confidence is back with a bang. A record 50% agreed that cross-border e-commerce is profitable, while a very respectable 31% strongly agreed with the statement.
Why the surge in optimism? Well, firstly, there is the China question. After Q1 2016’s surprise slowdown in growth rates, the Chinese economy stabilized and went on to record stronger year-on-year growth in the first two quarters of 2017. Also, the results suggest that merchants have experienced success in their omnichannel, m-commerce and in-store operations over the last 12 months.
In fact, the compound annual growth rate predicted for cross-border e-commerce over the next three years is now 17%, whereas it stands at just 12% for e-commerce overall. So, cross-border e-commerce is growing faster than its domestic equivalent.
The generally confident mood extends further in the survey, the majority of respondents disagreeing with the idea that cross-border e-commerce and omnichannel shopping are too complex.

The factors driving change
For the first time since the survey began, m-commerce has failed to top the list when respondents were asked to name their key game changer for the sector. Though it was still cited by 9% of the respondents, it came in fourth, overtaken by alternative payment methods, the internet of things (IoT) and, way out in front in number one position, the increasing influence of online marketplaces.
What else can you expect in a year when Alibaba and Amazon continued to dominate the global market and 40% of all e-commerce is now done through online marketplace platforms?

The political climate
Wherever you stand politically, it’s unquestionable that the geopolitical landscape appears to be shifting. The election of Donald Trump in the US and success of the ‘Leave’ campaign in the Brexit referendum took many by surprise in 2016, and respondents reported mixed feelings about both of these democratic results.
When asked whether or not they thought Brexit would have a positive impact upon cross-border e-commerce between the UK and Europe, the majority of respondents chose the ‘neutral’ option, though a larger percentage disagreed with the idea than agreed. This indicates that, as with so much related to the Brexit negotiations currently taking place, it is simply not yet known how they will affect cross-border e-commerce.
As for Trump, our respondents were a little more decisive, with a majority believing the sitting Commander-in-chief would not have a positive impact on cross-border e-commerce.

Legislation concerns
Next year, the European Union will introduce two key pieces of legislation that could massively impact cross-border merchants: the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2), designed to improve competition and make payments safer for consumers, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), designed to put consumers in control of their personal information.
The majority of respondents expressed concern about how new legislation could affect their business and with good cause. In the case of PSD2, companies that are not in compliance with its regulations by January 1st next year, could face strict penalties. To help prevent this, Payvision’s subsidiary, Acapture, recently launched SlicePay, a solution that ensures clients operate in complete compliance with PSD2. SlicePay is a PSD2 and BaFin compliant payment product that supports merchants to handle complex split settlements. It is an easy-to-integrate product designed to reduce the burden of payouts to multiple parties in various countries and currencies. It supports marketplaces, sharing economy operators, franchises, online travel agencies and other companies handling third-party funds to become fully compliant with PSD2. To find out more about how SlicePay helps deal with new regulation, see

Retail is experience
With 95% of consumers saying they would make a repeat purchase from a retailer based on a positive return or exchange experience and 46% saying they would make a repeat purchase if they felt the merchant had given them a truly personalized shopping experience, it’s not surprising to see customer experience at the front of our respondents’ minds.
63% now offer free domestic delivery and 51% offer click-and-collect, though just 21% offer free international delivery. Interestingly, however, of those merchants, more agree than disagree that offering free international delivery has boosted sales. Improving the ordering and delivery process is clearly crucial for international expansion. In fact, 43% of the respondents cited Logistics and Delivery as a key pain point in cross-border e-commerce.
This plays out when you look at consumer preferences in major markets. In many wealthy, mature e-commerce regions such as the UK, Germany and the USA, there is a reluctance amongst consumers to shop from foreign websites and one of the most commonly mentioned reasons for this is long delivery times. For example, Swedish digital buyers are, on average, prepared to wait no more than 3 and a half days for a product, which is a delivery time beyond the abilities of many international online retail companies.

These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Payvision’s latest white paper Key Business Drivers and Opportunities in Cross-border Ecommerce 2017 brings together all of the results, illustrated beautifully in slick, easy-to-follow graphics. It also lists the most up-to-date e-commerce statistics in every major region worldwide, with rare data on market value and import/export opportunities. Plus it offers a detailed analysis of some of the most influential happenings in both business and geopolitics over the last year, how they have affected cross-border e-commerce and what merchants may need to do to prepare for next year.

Put simply, it’s a must-read for any cross-border retailer with ambitions to expand internationally in 2018 and it’s available free to download at

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