What the early Covid-19 pandemic period reminded eCommerce businesses of was the lack of flexibility in sourcing. Borders had closed, and that caused problems with the distribution of products. All these bottlenecks caused immense challenges to the global economy. Globalization was in danger; however, two years on it has nonetheless survived. Yet now a new challenge is starting to affect the global economies once again. This is the war Russia started by invading Ukraine. The result of this invasion of an independent country has led to massive and heretofore unseen sanctions hitting Russia, mostly Putin and his gang of oligarchs. The knock-on effects of these sanctions will not spare the West. Moreover, it will lead to a considerable downturn in the economy. However, how can a virtual assistant be used to counter some of the effects of the ailing economy and cross-border eCommerce business, survive yet another challenge?
What is cross-border eCommerce?
Cross-border eCommerce refers to the online trade of businesses such as retailers or brands; consumers are commonly referred to as B2C. Included in this is online trade between two businesses, which are mostly brands or wholesalers, and which is called B2B. Last, it can also refer to the online trade between two private individuals: this is known as C2C. The trader will operate from a website. This can be their own website or marketplace site, such as Amazon or eBay, or they can trade from another party located in another country.
What are the risks for cross-border eCommerce?
Nothing is without risks: cross-border eCommerce has its own set of issues. These issues include:
This is one of the biggest concerns for merchants when purchases are made from abroad. To overcome this, a reliable payment service is needed. However, this system should be aware of the local clients’ behavior.
Common payment systems include Skrill, PayPal, credit cards, and bank transfers via Wise, for example. PayPal, Google Pay, together with credit cards and bank transfers often come with hidden costs – the consumer will have to pay additional taxes. These can differ from country to country and will increase the actual price of the product. But besides the cross-border taxes, there could also be card network fees, and other transactional costs, including delivery fees.
Logistics and reverse logistics
There are logistics of mailing the products; however, how to deal with returns should be considered. Ideally, the company would want to have a name that is reliable; therefore this needs to be clearly stated in its policy.
The growth of cross-border eCommerce
The traditional trade model has been replaced by a new business model – cross-border eCommerce. During the pandemic, eCommerce saw a massive increase. People’s movements were restricted; and they were spending more time at home, either by choice or due to regulations. More so, two years ago, in 2020 there were more than two billion online shoppers.
This is some 60% of the global population, who spent 13.5% of income on online shopping. That percentage is equal to $3.4 trillion dollars. Not only did the United States see a growth in the eCommerce sector − countries such as China and France, for instance, also had massive gains.
Cross-border eCommerce in China is worth 12 trillion yuan in 2021, although growing government interference could well impact this amount, companies using cross-border trade to bypass local agencies’ regulations. The government is closing this gap as their domestic market has been benefiting from paying taxes on imports via this method of shopping.
One of the fastest-growing markets for eCommerce in France. Around 50% of consumers in France buy via cross-border merchants. Moreover, the market of cross-border eCommerce was 143 billion euros in 2019, and 146 billion euros in 2020. Additionally, that is equal to 25.5% of total online sales in Europe. They mostly buy from Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and the United States. Overall, however, France is much smaller than China, or even Australia in terms of cross-border eCommerce sales.
What is the possible future of cross-border eCommerce?
The biggest challenge facing all the various merchants is the war in Ukraine. As mentioned before, there are severe sanctions against Russia. However, many Western companies such as H&M, IKEA, and UK online retailer Asos, have suspended all sales to Russia. Other brands such as Nike and Apple, and Chanel have stopped selling in Russia, and Visa and MasterCard have also halted their services in Russia. Many of these companies ended their trade with Russia since it become too difficult to serve clients there.
More so, Vogue Ukraine, in an Instagram post, asked luxury brands to halt their trade-in Russia “Showing your conscience and choosing humanity over monetary benefits is the only reasonable stand one can take in confronting the violent behavior of Russia…Moreover, Vogue UA appeals to the global fashion industry to not keep silent during these dark times as it has the strongest voice.”
Major concerns to take note of
What is already emerging is rising costs and issues with the supply chain. Just as the pandemic impacted international trade, the war in Ukraine is already leading to problems for the sector. As a result, delivery fees have increased, if deliveries have not been suspended to some areas. The concern is that, should the conflict escalate, the trade will be deeply impacted. However, that is one area of the globe. The impact of rising oil prices globally will affect trade worldwide. But the problems facing the eCommerce sector are not just limited to costs and delivery problems; there is also the risk associated with cyber-attacks. If not directly, it can also be indirectly, payment systems or banks, even delivery services will be targeted; then the whole system could come to a halt.
How to prepare and lessen your risk
The key is to remain agile. However, having an onsite team makes this difficult. More so, even though great to have a group of talented individuals at your beck and call, this is also a premium luxury. The reality is that outsourcing in the form of virtual assistants offers a cost-effective staffing solution but also flexibility to a company.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant or remote assistant is a person who works remotely. Such a person could be anywhere in the world, as long as their internet is available and reliable. It is preferable to hire a virtual assistant living in a similar time zone as you. If you are trading in an English-speaking market, then a native-English speaker is the best choice. Although not at hand, these workers can complete similar tasks as an onsite employees. The beauty of hiring someone not present in the body is that many hassles and costs are eliminated. For instance, costs such as taxes, benefits (which can range from holidays to a thirteenth check) and pension contributions can be avoided.
Added to this, there is no need for an office, or a fully fitted workstation, which includes computers and mobile phones. The virtual assistant simply works remotely from their own home office.
Benefits of a virtual assistant for an eCommerce business
There are many benefits a virtual assistant can offer an eCommerce store. These benefits can range from completing the admin tasks to being able to access great people at lower rates to do more specialist tasks. A prominent benefit of hiring virtual assistants for an eCommerce store is that they can assist with managing and running the online store efficiently. Therefore, they can be involved in sorting, organizing and cataloging products. Additionally, the virtual assistants could also provide up-to-date discount offers and coupons on products based on the owners’ requests. The virtual assistant would also be able to upload and update details of the inventory, logistics, and stock. Additionally, they would be able to work on various eCommerce platforms, for instance, WordPress or Shopify. More so, the business owner gains access to great talent at a reduced price. Virtual assistants complete various tasks such as content creation, social media management, or managing orders and clients. This affords you the flexibility to upscale or downscale as your situation changes.
The bottom line
You need to be flexible and find ways of reducing your business expenses. The eCommerce trade is still set to follow a strong upward growth, regardless of the war in Europe. The Covid-10 pandemic has shown that despite the challenges, the sector has still performed well. The war could prove somewhat more challenging, and could ultimately linger longer than the virus. Notwithstanding, with a virtual assistant, you can increase your chance of success. A virtual assistant is a highly cost-effective staffing solution that allows companies to be able to onboard great talent they would not have been able to hire for onsite work. More so, when the need comes to let go of this consultant this is also much easier. That ability to be agile in business can help you to survive.
Let Aristo Sourcing help you
If you want to hire a virtual assistant or want to discuss your situation and have our outsourcing expert assist you, simply book a call. We offer a complimentary discovery call via our outsourcing expert. Our specialist will help you, offering his decade of experience in the outsourcing sector and more so working with some of the best-known brands globally. Book your call today – just click here.