According to a survey commissioned by Oracle’s Bronto Software and conducted by the global market research firm Ipsos, 72% of Americans are open to shopping online via Canadian retailers. However, according to the same survey, only 20% of Americans have made a purchase north of the 49th parallel.
“Whichever way you look at those statistics,” said Susan Wall, the vice president of marketing for Bronto, “it’s clear that there’s e-commerce gold south of the border. But while all that extra market is available, it isn’t necessarily easy to get. All the regular challenges of e-commerce still exist, and you must also deal with the specific challenges of cross-border commerce.”
This is where Bronto, a cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform that caters to mid-market and enterprise organizations, comes in. Ranked as the No. 1 email marketing provider to the global Internet Retailer Top 1,000, Bronto has a client roster of leading brands, including Vince Camuto, Lucky Brand, Theory, Björn Borg, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks.
With targeted email campaigns, the savvy Canadian business owner can crack the American market. Wall said it’s important first to understand the American consumer and what they’re after. Two main factors are driving Americans north for goods: better pricing with the exchange rate, and unique items they can’t find domestically.
What won’t make them cross the border? It comes down to one word: fear.
“Fear of shipping costs and problems, fear of payment risk, fear of support issues,” she said. “Cost fears can be overcome with clear shipping costs and strategic pricing. Making shoppers comfortable with other issues requires transparency, good messaging and proof points to alleviate the fears.”
There is even an upside to shipping when it comes to Canada and the United States: geography. The Ipsos study also found that Americans are much less comfortable buying from China (31%). However, 56% of them have purchased from the overseas company. Again, another reason to look south, Wall says.
Two companies have already tapped into this potential: Big Al’s, which sells aquatic-focused pets and pet supplies, and Golda’s Kitchen, which sells small kitchen accessories.
For Big Al’s, Bronto was able to help them use highly targeted customer data for potential U.S. shoppers, and also actively engage with customers online by sharing knowledge and expertise. For Golda’s Kitchen, it was Bronto’s geo-segmented email program to make the U.S. shopping experience better, such as converting prices automatically to American dollars and generating special offers for U.S. food-focused holidays.
Wall said when it comes to trying to crack into a market with 318 million people, it’s an all-hands-on-deck scenario.
“Delivering great service and providing cost-effective shipping is a good start,” she added. “But you must get potential buyers over their concerns whether imagined or real. Independent voices work better. User-generated content, which includes reviews and ratings, is an easy way to develop that independent authority shoppers crave.”