Looking beyond the UK to European markets is always an exciting time in a business’s growth story. Opening a business up to the potentially huge new audiences across our nearby neighbours can be the key to significant growth, particularly for eCommerce businesses. The barriers to market entry are also constantly falling, meaning it’s more tempting than ever to make the jump into new territories.
This said, expanding abroad for the first time can also be a seriously daunting process. Language barriers provide one obvious challenge, but there’s a lot more to consider than just translating websites and product information into local languages. Perhaps the biggest challenge – and gamble – is first deciding which market, or markets, to focus on and market size certainly shouldn’t be business’s only guide.
Before making this choice, and starting to formulate a launch and growth strategy, businesses need to understand the local nuances that should impact how they approach things and their likelihood of success. Across Europe there are a variety of shopping trends and buying behaviours that are worth understanding in more detail. Any firm entering a new market, would be wise to dig out relevant research and set this against how their products/services are likely to resonate, but here are just a few interesting starters for ten:
- Big spenders: The UK remains the EU’s biggest eCommerce market (€165bn in 2018), but the continent’s other economic powerhouses aren’t far behind, with Germany (€98bn), France (€84bn) and Spain (€24bn). While businesses shouldn’t target growth on market size alone, it certainly provides a useful guide for expansion plans.
- eCommerce penetration: In spite of regular articles about the ‘death of the highstreet’ in the UK, eCommerce habits vary widely across Europe. The Centre for Retail Research estimates 15.1% of Germany’s retail sales were made online in 2018, whilst in Italy it was just 3.4% of purchases.
- Online shopping habits: While eCommerce as a proportion of total retail sales are low, habits are changing fast and these numbers are only increasing. Eurostat research in 2018 found that 84% of Danes had shopped online in the last year, and 77% of Germans. This falls to just 20% in Romania and 12% in Montenegro, where economies are smaller and internet penetration less widespread.
- Mobile shopping: While it’s easy to imagine mobile shopping is the primary method of online shopping today, this is actually far from the case. Amazon Pay and Drapers asked consumers about the devices they use to shop with and Italy came out ahead in mobile use with 39.7% using a mobile to shop. This compares with 24% in France, 22.4% in Germany and surprisingly 16.8 % in the UK. The use of mobile for shopping, however, is of course rising rapidly.
- Payment trends: Payment cultures also vary widely across Europe. According to Paysafe, the UK for example makes 63% of online purchases made via payment card, however, in the Netherlands, the picture is quite different where nearly 60% of online purchases are made via bank transfer, with only one-third by card. Worldpay research also charts the growing importance of alternative payments across Europe, such as e-wallets and real time bank transfers.
- Delivery trends: In addition to shopping habits, European consumers also vary widely in how they like to receive goods. Salesforce research finds, for example, that there’s a large difference in acceptance of click and collect between nations, germany for example has an adoption rate of just 51% versus 66 in Belgium and 75% in the nordics.
- Currency: While the Euro may dominate the European Union, within the EU there are a further nine currencies in use. So, while having a bank account within the Eurozone will give you an advantage, if you plan to operate within other territories, you need to ensure you have a cross-border payments solution which can allow you to act as a local within each currency market.
Of course every business is different and a variety of different trends and cultural idiosyncrasies will impact each in different ways. Gaining an understanding of the differences that are most important to a business is a vital first step in planning expansion, prioritising focus areas and giving businesses the best possible chance of international success.
BATTLEFACE RECEIVES INVESTMENT FROM FINTECH VENTURES FUND
battleface Inc., a rapidly growing tech-enabled insurance startup focused on providing travel insurance products for unconventional travellers worldwide, announced today that it successfully closed its seed financing round with backing from leading strategic and venture capital investors.
Atlanta, Georgia-based Fintech Ventures Fund has invested in the company, joining existing investors Greenlight Re and Tangiers Group. This investment will be used to expand software development, hire sales and business development personnel, and further the company’s global reach.
battleface is led by a team of travel insurance experts. CEO Sasha Gainullin previously developed global operations for AIG Travel Guard and has worked with battleface since its inception. Managing Director Paul Simmonds brings experience as a Lloyd’s of London underwriter with previous leadership roles at Berkley Syndicate, CNA Hardy, Brit, and Goshawk.
“We got our start because many travellers couldn’t find the right insurance products with coverage for their unique travel destinations and real needs,” said Gainullin. “With the latest investment from Fintech Ventures Fund, we’ll continue to expand our B2B partnerships custom-building travel insurance solutions for groups, including business and NGO travellers, associations and membership-based organisations.”
battleface combines innovative technology and underwriting to create, distribute and service specialty travel insurance products for people in both retail and wholesale. Products are supported by a network of 24/7 assistance coordinators, medical providers and on-the-ground field agents who provide emergency claims, medical and travel assistance services on a global basis.
Fintech Ventures Partner Lucas Timberlake said: “A core area of our fund’s investment thesis is that technology can be leveraged to more efficiently provide insurance products to markets that have been underserved by current offerings. We believe that battleface’s seasoned management team will create an industry leader in the travel insurance space. It is for these reasons that we are excited support the company’s future growth.”
VANQUIS BANK PARTNERS WITH HOOYUTO DIGITALISE KYC PROCESSES
HooYu KYC digital journey deployed during the customer lifecycle on a risk-based approach
Leading customer onboarding and KYC technology firm, HooYu, has announced a partnership to digitalise Vanquis Bank’s KYC processes. The HooYu KYC journey has been selected to provide additional identity proofing during the customer lifecycle when customers perform a potentially high-risk action on their accounts.
Vanquis Bank is part of the Provident Financial Group, a UK and Ireland business with over 140 years’ experience in lending to consumers who are not well served by mainstream lenders. With millions of customers, Vanquis needed to find a way to help balance fraud prevention and KYC with a great customer experience.
Existing customers calling in to the change the details on their account were in some cases having to wait weeks before the change could be approved. The team at Vanquis Bank is continually looking to improve how their products work for their customers and that they are easy to apply for and manage. Vanquis Bank decided to implement an ID document validation solution that would speed up customer lifecycle management and improve the customer experience.
Sue Singleton, Process Change Assurance Manager at Vanquis Bank said, “By adding HooYu to our KYC tools, we can improve some of our higher risk customer processes and can now facilitate customer requests without asking the customer to post in copies of documentation. Our agents deal with thousands of customers a day and now what could have been a delay of weeks for our customers, can be achieved in a matter of minutes with HooYu”.
David Pope, Marketing Director at HooYu said, “It’s been great to see the results of Vanquis implementing the HooYu digital journey and how the HooYu UI and UX tools are helping their customers though the KYC process.”
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