Limited social technology integrations by cross-border e-commerce Web 2.0

Logistics and deliveries are primary problems for cross-border businesses around the world. In an international environment, it is generally strenuous to fulfill on-time delivery at a predictable cost because customs regulations and processes worldwide are usually designed for large-scale, repetitive industrial shipments, not for small, unique orders. As the delivery process involved with many parties and middlemen is often fractured and the order-tracking is handled manually, it’s difficult to guarantee a coherent information flow in international online trades. Due to different geographic locations, a streamlined supply chain and automation are costly and not easy to build for online merchants to ensure good quality services. In addition, offering exchange and returns of goods are usually hectic, time-consuming, and dispute resolution is often biased in cross-border e-commerce. Customers have to wait for days for customer support to respond, wherein the majority of cases customer plea for product replacement or order cancellation is even rejected. Customers who experience bad service are less likely to use the same e-commerce brand again, but they are also more likely to give negative feedback that can impact a company’s reputation. These logistics and delivery issues are seriously causing cross-border merchants such consternation and negative customer purchase preferences. On the other hand, taxation is an obvious cross-border e-commerce pitfall. For the sake of controlling the import and export of goods through international borders, every country follows the Harmonized Commodity and Coding System (HS codes) used for assessing duties and taxes to monitor and impose taxes on goods from abroad. Customs duties applied to different HS codes are subject to the legal precedent of each country, so it’s complicated to calculate landed costs of purchased items (landed cost is the total price of a product delivered to the end-customer, including the original price, transportation fees, customs, taxes, insurance, and currency conversions). Hence, customers cannot learn about landed costs at checkout while buying products on overseas e-commerce platforms.

In case customers buy products overseas through social platforms, they not only face those cross-border problems, but also have to deal with trust issues, mismatches they want and brand offerings, and limited localization. Trust is a major factor in purchasing through social media platforms due to the lack of personalization available in shop functions and control over. When purchasing from further abroad, consumers feel uncertain about a foreign shop in a non-native language without a global trustmark that can verify the business is legitimate. By no longer selling directly to consumers through the brand’s website and using social channels instead, consumers are no longer seeing key aspects of the brand’s identity and what makes the product unique against competition. By using highly adopted social platforms, it is harder to stand out against competition in a marketplace that may be more saturated than traditional e-commerce selling. Although big e-commerce platforms are making a play for social e-commerce, talks of antitrust issues related to these giant platforms get louder and brands begin to question the value/cost of working with them. Additionally, social platforms have their own guidelines in terms of design — ultimately hindering brand creativity. Especially, international businesses may face further challenges when reaching their audiences because many countries are behind in technology, and therefore different approaches to social commerce may need to be explored when implementing in various regions.

The competition amongst social digital platforms and e-commerce marketplaces has highly increased in the age of social distancing. Built on Web 2.0, most social media-based e-commerce platforms don't have a full social shopping integration with high-quality information, effective security, privacy, and the ability to share experiences with others. Since cross-border e-commerce data flows involve multiple stakeholders and intermediaries, no single entity has all the information regarding a transaction. Lack of accuracy and poor quality of data may cause a big gap to obtain complete and correct data as well as map data flows to achieve efficient processing of cross-border e-commerce transactions and shipments. Such problems could be exploited by bad actors to engage in fraudulent activities. A more important thing is that socially-minded shoppers today expect real-time product information such as product availability in a particular store and delivery time frames. This requires visibility into inventory levels and the ability to communicate real-time information to partners, suppliers, and customers alike. However, many social commerce businesses don't seriously take value chains which comprise supply and demand management, warehousing, inventory tracking, order management, distribution, and delivery to customers. Therefore, it’s crucial that social platforms need to be equipped with a better supply chain to compete in this evolving retail landscape. Social media in combination with cross-border e-commerce, is undeniably impacting the consumers and the business worldwide and shall become one in the time to come.

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