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Trade Policy Worries E-Tail Execs Eyeing Cross-Border Commerce for Growth

Despite a political climate that seems to favor nationalism and protectionist policies, a new study has found that most e-commerce leaders still believe that cross-border commerce is the key to solid growth into the future.

The Visa Global Merchant E-commerce Study (GME Study) collected responses from 1,000 C-level executives or business owners from 10 of the world’s most important markets: Australia, Canada, China (including Hong Kong), France, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Of that group, 87 percent identified cross-border sales as one of the biggest growth opportunities currently on the market.

However, according to Visa, 51 percent of the companies in the study still feel like they need help preparing their platforms for international sales—despite the fact that 66 percent already rely on cross-border sales, which contribute 31 percent to their total revenue.

“The data is clear; cross-border is a major growth opportunity. But it’s not easy, especially for small businesses,” Suzan Kereere, global head of merchant sales and acquiring at Visa, said in a statement. “As a global platform that sees millions of transactions daily, Visa helps merchants find new customers, verify their customers’ digital identities, and create secure, seamless experiences.”

The GME Study found that 66 percent of the businesses surveyed that do not currently sell cross-border still have plans to do so in the near future. In fact, 90 percent said they would attempt to sell internationally in the next three years. However, another 87 percent said they hadn’t yet started the process, citing difficulties in processing foreign transactions and shipping issues as the primary roadblocks.

The study was also able to pinpoint some of the more serious issues facing e-commerce during Holiday 2019, namely increased competition. More than half of those surveyed expressed concern that their business would be hampered by the introduction of new players into the field.

What’s more, trade policy was a source of anxiety for 34 percent of the American executives surveyed, while Chinese leaders registered their fears at an even higher rate of 54 percent. Brexit remains a source of anxiety for the great majority of U.K. executives, as well, with 64 percent describing uncertainty in Europe as a primary concern.

“No two retailers, regions, or consumers are the same. So it is critical that merchants understand the landscape. Data is at the core of that,” Kereere added. ”Merchants need to understand who their current and prospective customers are and where they are coming from. Then tailor their value prop to those specific needs.”

As consumers have made it clear that speed is as important as anything when it comes to online deliveries, executives appear to be on board, as well. Of those surveyed, 44 percent said that a quick delivery is an important factor in the e-commerce experience, followed by easy checkouts and convenient payments, which both registered 41 percent approval.

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