As many as 65% of Polish online trade entrepreneurs are actively selling internationally, and more than half expect to increase their sales profits in 2023 thanks to foreign expansion, according to the latest e-commerce report prepared by a global fintech, Conotoxia.
"As a provider of financial services to both individual and business customers, we decided to analyse the role and potential of foreign trade expansion for Polish companies. The results of our study enabled us to learn about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. These range from language and cultural barriers to differences in legislation and payment systems. This is our first e-commerce report of this kind. We believe that it will be useful for Polish shops that want to reach new markets with their offer, as well as for those interested in current trends in international online trade," says Piotr Kicinski, Vice-President of Cinkciarz.pl, a company belonging to Conotoxia Holding.
Merchants ready to open up to the world
According to the Polish Central Statistical Office (GUS), the foreign sales of Polish entrepreneurs in 2016 were worth 27.5 billion PLN. However, it was already almost three times higher five years later, reaching 61.47 billion PLN. Market estimates assume that worldwide cross-border e-commerce could grow at an annual rate of around 26% in the coming years.
"The data reveal that more and more Polish online shops and sales platforms recognise the potential of online sales abroad. Newly established shops are opening up to foreign markets at the very beginning of their operations and want to sell their products to customers from different countries. Conotoxia's report "2023 as the year of cross-border e-commerce - challenges and prospects of borderless trade" shows that nearly two-thirds of our fintech customers declare active sales on the international arena," says Robert Blaszczyk, Head of Strategic Clients Department at Conotoxia.
Directions and motives behind foreign internet sales
According to Conotoxia's report, the most comprehensive business survey in Poland dedicated to cross-border e-commerce, we can learn that Polish industry representatives provide services in countries all over the world. Most of them target the German market, where 22% of the respondents direct their offer. Next are the rest of the European Union with 13% and non-EU European countries with 8%, followed by the United States, where 7% of Polish retailers surveyed are trying to compete on the US e-commerce market.
The desire to increase sales is by far the most common reason for expanding into international markets, cited by 43% of respondents. It turns out that 31% of retailers are responsible for increased demand from new directions. In contrast, 18% of respondents had planned to expand their online foreign trade from the start of their business.
There are always two sides to a coin
Globalising the market brings benefits, but it also comes with challenges in cross-border e-commerce. More than 44% of shoppers abandon their purchasing plans due to the high cost of delivering goods. Conotoxia's study also shows that sellers highlight: language barriers, cultural differences, different legal regulations, costs of customer complaints and payment problems.
"Identifying cross-border e-commerce challenges early and working out ways to overcome them can result in more effective development of one's operations in borderless digital trade, comments Robert Blaszczyk from Conotoxia.
Payment methods key to cross-border e-commerce
More than 60% of online merchants surveyed by Conotoxia claim that all they need to do to expand abroad is prepare adequately so that online sales abroad run without surprises. For 6% of the industry, the main problem seems to be additional formalities, i.e. differences in foreign trade regulations, accounting, marketing rules, etc.
The same percentage of respondents (6%) see challenges in the high cost of customer awareness, high commissions for foreign payment methods, or the need for a large budget and long-term operations. However, diversified payment methods appear to be essential for cross-border e-commerce. When asked, "What is the key to expanding abroad?", almost 20% of merchants said local payment methods. In contrast, 17% cited price attractiveness, 15% marketing and channels to reach customers, 13% credibility of the shop, 9% intuitiveness of the service, 8% communication in the customer's language.
"Each country has its own characteristics and different customer preferences when it comes to payment methods. In fact, this is a new national distinction. Foreign customers often use local payment methods, which are popular in some countries and completely unknown in others. The absence of these methods on a sales platform may even discourage some people from making a purchase, leading them to abandon their shopping cart and pigeonhole a particular shop as less reliable," points out Robert Blaszczyk from Conotoxia.
Another step ahead?
In a harsh economic reality, the Polish e-commerce industry remains optimistic. From the Conotoxia survey, we discover that 54% of respondents expect revenue growth in 2023, and 37% predict that revenue will remain at a similar level as in 2022. Only 7% of online retailers forecast a drop in revenue.
For many of those taking part in the survey, the positive attitude is linked to the already implemented or planned foreign expansion. As many as 65% of Polish online shop owners make their offer available in countries other than Poland, and more are to follow.
It is vital to reach the right target
The survey was conducted by Conotoxia using the CATI method in November and December 2022 among a sample of 372 entrepreneurs who run an e-commerce business/use the Conotoxia Pay payment gateway. The report was produced entirely by the fintech company Conotoxia.
Conotoxia Pay is the global fintech's proprietary payment gateway. It allows online merchants to accept payments in EUR and 26 other currencies, offering their customers to complete transactions using local payment methods such as online quick bank transfers, BLIK, cards (Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club and others), PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Trustly, Skrill, Vipps, Rapid Transfer or iDEAL.
Payment services are provided by Conotoxia Sp. z o.o., with Polish Financial Supervision Authority licence no. 30/2015.