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Last updated on July 5th, 2021 at 03:56 pm
Expanding the reach of your brand to other countries can seem like a tantalizing mirage. How will our products be perceived by people with a different culture? A different language? After we get past issues surrounding customs, currency, and taxation, is globalizing worth the effort?
Ultimately your market research will give you a clearer picture of whether to make the move. But indications are if you see your brand going global, now is a good time to grow.
Everyone in retail dreams of a future where the sun never sets on their brand. Products pump out of distribution centers worldwide 24/7 to customers on every continent. Well, this appears to be the year to make that push across the borders, with global retail sales expected to rise more than 10% in 2021.
Making that a reality though takes some heavy lifting. Expanding a brand across borders means dealing with the regulations of various entities. From currency and language to tax systems. In the past retailers could silo off those parts of the company doing business in a particular country: brick-and-mortar, ecommerce, distribution centers, etc. That’s no longer possible in an omnichannel environment where your goal is customer satisfaction no matter where the customer lives or what channel they use.
In a forward-thinking omnichannel environment, if a product is needed by a consumer in Germany and the fastest way to get it to them is from the brand’s retail store in Belgium, this should be a seamless transaction. However, moving products and currency across borders can create friction that causes delays, missed orders, and a poor customer experience.
To help your global brand succeed you must be able to operate freely across borders. An item ordered in the consumer’s home country should be able to be exchanged for a different size when he visits another country. And then shipped back from a third country when he changes his mind.
Many fiscal regulations were written in the era when transactions were handled by brick-and-mortar POS systems. Omnichannel was a concept that went along with flying cars and vacations to the moon. Something way, way into the future. But the future is today. To cope, each country interprets those fiscal regulations differently when applying them to omnichannel retailing.
At their heart, most country’s fiscal regulations are similar. Governments want to see an immutable history of transactions. Through a traditional POS system, the start and end of each transaction are documented. However, within the omnichannel world transactions have a “life cycle” like what you see in an order management system. The average POS system tracks cash-and-carry transactions happening within that country. In omnichannel, an order can be routed through different countries, shipped internationally, or even canceled. This has been where governments have had to decide how to interpret their regulations.
Some require the transaction history in a printed electronic journal form. Others require a QR code on the receipt containing a digital signature. Whatever the requirements, the government wants evidence that the retailer is not under-reporting its revenue.
This leads to a complex marketplace. Retail isn’t what it used to be 20 or 30 years ago when many of the regulations were put in place. Brands that don’t have an established brick-and-mortar presence in a country can find it very challenging to compete in ecommerce across borders.
The fact is many retailers aren’t experts at the ins and outs of each country’s fiscal and other compliance regulations. And they shouldn’t be. They’ve got a business to grow. That’s why they need to rely on their solution provider to make sure they’re in compliance without degrading their customer experience.
Maintaining a modern POS system that integrates with every customer channel is the best way to create a seamless global omnichannel business. It allows customers the convenience of shopping the brand in multiple countries. As important, it gives the brand real-time data to create a more personalized experience and a much more visible inventory.
It’s critical for your solution provider to have a cloud architecture capable of keeping your operation in multiple markets with various languages, currencies, tax regulations, and shipping considerations. Having that type of partner reduces the risks involved in becoming a global brand. Here are some of the questions you’ll want to bring up with a possible solution provider before jumping into international retail:
Ultimately, becoming a global brand requires great products and a skillful strategy. Even more, it requires systems and solutions that are purpose-built. Not only for what you need today but also to help you grow tomorrow. This is how you turn those lofty dreams into reality.