How to Analyse your Cross Border eCommerce Performance

If you’ve read our guide from start to finish you will know by now that by concentrating on your foundations and localizing generically what we’re aiming to achieve is an increased number of sales transaction. A good data set to work from. 

For most countries generic, automated localization is as far as you will ever go. Demand from many countries will not be sufficient to justify increased cash and time investment. Instead you will improve performance in most countries while you improve your generic localization.

In this post we look more closely at how you identify countries where it makes sense to invest further.

We start by looking at how to analyze the data you’re gathering from visitors and buyers and how to read more into that. Then we look at how to determine which factors are important in getting you that demand, what’s driving it. From there, you can decide whether these factors constitute a high or low risk if you invest more heavily in a country.

Performance Analysis

Assuming you have followed much of the advice in our guide, over time you will start to gather enough data to understand various aspects of your performance in an international context.

As always, more data is better, but if you have data for 50+ sales you can start to track more closely and do some analysis on your performance so far.

When talking about performance here we’re talking about both your eCommerce site’s metrics and also the performance of your listings on international marketplaces or elsewhere you may have listed them.

On your site, there are numerous core metrics to track but the important ones remain the same for both domestic and international buyers. But track all these separately to your domestic metrics:

  • Average Order Value: You may find that your overseas buyers spend more per basket than your domestic buyers.
  • International Traffic, by country/region: useful to determine where you are getting traction with your current cross border optimizations.
  • Conversion Rate. Not different from what you should be monitoring domestically but keep them specific to international / corridor for the purpose of this analysis:
    • Visit to basket
    • Basket to Checkout
    • Checkout to purchase
    • Visit to purchase
    • Basket to purchase
    • Basket abandonment
    • Checkout Abandonment

Tracking these metrics will give you some important pointers, such as:

  • Understand where your international buyers are dropping off so you can test ways to improve the experience for them.
  • Give you some direction about which countries respond well to both your marketing and product offering.
  • Give you a sense of where your products are competitive (more on this later).

All this information will serve to add detail to your understanding of how you perform overseas.

Country Demand

The demand you are seeing from your performance metrics will help you get an idea of in which countries consumers are buying, or at least interested in, your products.

There are few things to consider. It isn’t as simple as where your products are selling to, while obviously this is a good starting point.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have enough data. In the performance section we talked about having at least 50 sales internationally. This isn’t enough to make a final decision about a country, unless you are already seeing half your sales from one of them.

When you do have good traction in a country it’s time to dig more deeply. Ask the following questions:

  • What is your shipping price and delivery time to that country? Is it better than you offer to other countries? If so, see what impact is had if you add more of your shipping cost in to your product prices in other countries and try other carriers.
  • Currency conversion. Are your products cheap in that country right now due to currency exchange? Is it likely to be the case in long term?
  • Is your localization to that country pretty good or even perfect if it’s the same language as domestically?
  • Is the country giving you the most sales doing so because it is the largest economy you’re currently selling to? If so, is it comparably outperforming other countries or is it in line with expectations?
  • If most of your international sales to that country are coming from a marketplace, is the marketplace more established there than elsewhere?

These are the sorts of questions to ask to establish a good market fit in a country. It’s important to dig in deeply. If you are getting a lot of sales from a larger economy or from a country where the marketplace is more established, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t invest there but you should be aware of the reasons why you see traction.

It may be that you are getting a dis-proportionally high conversion and number of sales out of a smaller country but it might be comparably small overall compared to sales in a larger economy. This may be a great sign that a country has a need for your products and improving your localization and marketing there may have a great impact.

Visitor Analysis

You should try and understand what is driving your visitors from overseas. What are they searching for? What platforms are they searching on? How are they ending up on your products? Knowing this can help you identify and improve as you test more deeply by optimizing your marketing in advance of your localization.

It’s likely that you have Google Analytics, though there are many other tools that enable you to track visits to your site. Use these tools to determine the following key metrics:

  • Visitor Location: where are they based?
  • Traffic Sources: This will give you insight into how your potential buyers are finding you. In most platforms you will see Direct users who visited by typing in your URL, Referral; those that came via another site, Social; those that came from your social media channels and Organic; those that found you via a search.
  • Top Pages: Tells you your most visited pages. Gives you a clue which products people are looking at most.
  • Bounce Rate: Those that came and left straight away. You want to try to minimize this and will likely see when you have a site in a user’s language they tend to stick around longer.
  • Exit Pages: The page your users last visited before leaving. Often this can be the checkout or basket. Keep an eye out for if it is where the buyer first sees your shipping charges and / or times.

There’s a lot of similarity in the above to when you are tracking your domestic visitors. I won’t go into this much deeper here but again, make sure you get a separate view on your international visitors. You want to be able to compare these metrics to continue building up a picture of your performance in other markets.

Competitors, Product Availability and Pricing

Once you have enough data and have analyzed performance, while asking questions about why you are seeing that performance, you will have built up a picture of your product demand from some countries. You should have a view on the drop out points and overall performance of your items on your platform and any marketplaces you list on.

Knowing and tracking these data points means you can start to identify countries showing promise, given your limited investment in globalizing so far.

Using this knowledge you can begin to determine WHY you are getting these visitors and sales. You can do this in a number of ways, but I suggest starting with the following approach.

Be curious. Knowing where buyers are coming from through your visitor analysis and what they are searching for, simply try doing the same. What comes up? Are your products high on the list? Are the products that come up first more expensive than yours? Note, searching via Google, Amazon or others you will often not get the same experience as your international buyers, invest in a good VPN (virtual private network) and visit as though you were in those countries.

If you find that you are high on search results, try to determine the reason. Look at what else is available and drill into the product pages. Are there not many results for your specific product types? Do a wider search of the brand and category. If your brand isn’t widely available in a country note down those similar products that do come up (often advertised using your brand’s name as a keyword) you may want to investigate these further later.

If, though, find you results at the bottom of the page or on later pages of search results, yet you are still seeing sales. Go through the process of adding products to your competitor’s baskets. Check for quality of experience. Does it build trust? If you are not high up on search results it’s often the case that buyers have been to other sites before coming to you. Try to understand why they left and kept searching. By doing this you’re looking for an advantage you can build on.

Are your prices lower? At first glance maybe not. Again go through your competitor site, see if taxes are added later or perhaps shipping is expensive locally for your type of product.

If you are much cheaper, is this because you aren’t adding local taxes and the buyer may be charged these when they get their delivery?

If you do find that there are products available and in a similar price range it may not be immediately clear why you are getting sales. Take a deeper look at those competing retailers, check the reviews both on site and on website review pages. Are they getting negative feedback and are you offering more trust?

You will want to build up a tracking spreadsheet for these investigations so you can compare your findings and use this as a basis for your next steps.

Summary

There is a lot to look into before deciding to expand more aggressively in a market but it can be an expensive process to do so. You want to make sure you will get a return on it so spending time digging deeply, documenting and reviewing regularly is time well spent. Even if you don’t see any trends yet you can use this analysis to improve your general localisation and benefit in multiple countries at once.

As always, we’re looking forward to your feedback!

About Mark Ellis

Mark is the VP for Growth and Partnerships at Webinterpret, a leading Cross Border Technology company. Before that Mark was leading the operations for eBay's European cross border program. He has over 20 years of eCommerce industry experience, guiding and delivering strategic change in retailers, working with companies such as Dyson, Regatta, Boots and Arcadia Group, leading multi-million dollar programs for industry giants like Dunnhumby and working with small businesses delivering innovative retail solutions.

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