Cross-border payment lessons from ASEAN’s prominent 6-figure B2B wholesale exporters
ASEAN overperforming on B2B Trade and E-Commerce
We are in the post-pandemic era of business re-imagination, and if there was a time where B2B trade and e-commerce could establish itself as the dominant way of doing business, it is now.
After a dramatic year for the global economy, economic activity and international merchandise trade rebounded strongly in 2021. Global merchandise exports and imports surpassed pre-pandemic (2019) levels, with nominal growth of 24.6% and 23.8%, respectively. Likewise, growth in the value of exports and imports in Asia and the Pacific is estimated at 23.1% and 22.8%. Nevertheless, removing inflationary pressures, ESCAP finds that Asia and the Pacific actually overperformed the rest of the world with regional real exports and imports growing 10.0% and 9.1%, respectively, year on year, compared with 8.4% and 7.7% globally, respectively, in the same period
New investments and trade corridors are emerging to boost regional trade and growth.
- In May 2022, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors also approved the $132 million Southeast Asia Regional Economic Corridor and Connectivity Project, which will improve climate resilient transport connectivity and regional trade along an east-west corridor through northern Lao PDR.
- China is also promoting the New Western Land-Sea Corridor, that would connect major inland cities in southwestern China, to ASEAN economies and boost socioeconomic development and trade in the region. Cargo from inland China can be transported to the border and then shipped to ASEAN economies and then on to other parts of the world. Imports can also use the route to enter China.
On the digital behaviours front, COVID-19, increased accessibility and affordability of mobile devices and data has seemingly changed online shopping behaviours for good for B2C or B2B, creating an excellent opportunity for companies to scale to new markets at lower costs, and get paid easily across borders.
Prior to the pandemic, research firm Frost & Sullivan had predicted that global B2B e-commerce sales would reach over US$6.6 trillion this year, surpassing that of B2C sales, valued at US$3.2 trillion in the same period. Asia continues to lead the predicted growth in the e-commerce space and will see 51% annual growth from 2020 to 2025. Forrester also predicts a 12.1% growth per annum in B2B e-commerce, with B2B online marketplaces being the prevalent business model.
Backed by government support and rising mobile penetration in India and Southeast Asia, B2B e-commerce is flourishing in the region, and led by competitive pricing, Asian-made products continue to be in demand in every corner of the globe.
While despite, recent economic downturns, China remains top of mind when the topic of Asian business comes up, ASEAN countries (Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, and Singapore) present an attractive and accessible market opportunity. These countries have a combined GDP of US$2.55 trillion and are predicted to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050 – outgrowing the European Union.
The accelerated globalization has also led to the emergence of new players who are stepping in to assume the roles of traditional intermediaries, such as Udaan in India, connecting buyers and sellers on technology-enabled platforms. With increased demand from traders at both ends of the supply chain, this startup has been valued at more than $1 billion in just 26 months.
In other markets where intermediaries are in plenty, the opportunity lies in ensuring relevant value-added services, as is done by Vietnam’s largest B2B eCommerce platform, Telio.
They are proliferating by working on areas such as pricing transparency, reliable goods delivery, and streamlining of operations.
Key Challenges for B2B exporters in SEA countries
In the face of this massive opportunity, barriers still exist that are preventing ASEAN from reaching its trade potential.
The incomplete rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in developing economies – especially in lower-middle and low-income ones – as well as increased global financial instability, and scaling back of fiscal stimulus are among the most immediate threats to global output growth. Developing economies are especially exposed to these downside risks since they are often overexposed to foreign creditors and are also battling COVID-19 waves with often lower vaccination rates and fiscal space.
In addition, payment challenges, supply chain disruptions, global inflation, and political uncertainty continue in many countries – the effects of which are likely to be felt by exporters throughout 2022.
Let’s take a look at some of these barriers in detail.
- Poor InfrastructureClogged ports, bad roads, overextended railways, shortage of containers, and unreliable shipping have taken a turn for the worse in 2022 as the world continues to reel from the supply chain disruptions of 2021, which are likely to continue.
- Access to creditAccording to World Bank reports, finance constraints are the second most cited obstacle to growth for small businesses. Complex procedures, changing regulations, lack of information, and high process costs mean that many companies don’t get the credit financing they need on time.
- Supply chain challengesThe supply chain challenges that started in 2020 will continue to take a toll on trade in 2022. Global political challenges, trade wars, and other economic uncertainties mean a lack of clarity on how things will progress.
- Global inflationRegions from the US to the EU, Argentina, Africa, and elsewhere are recording high inflation figures. According to the UN, ongoing supply chain constraints are behind much of this development.
- COVID-19While it may seem COVID is ending, the pandemic remains a challenge. The recent waves of new infections mean that strict lockdowns could be implemented anytime, bringing a big blow to businesses.
- Payment ChallengesOne of the biggest challenges exporters continue to face are high fees for receiving smaller payments (especially for samples) using cross-border payment services.The difficulty in getting approved for a merchant (CC) account with traditional banks or requests for receiving accounts is another issue that restricts business growth and the speed with which businesses can accept payment.
Traditional banks are also yet to provide adequate support and transparency when accepting SWIFT payments causing blackholes in communication and businesses not knowing why payments are stuck. Additionally, when sending out payouts to suppliers/vendors globally, high FX fees deter exporters from exploring global customer bases.
Success stories from SEA #1
2022 will be pivotal for exporters as they look to consolidate last year’s gains and grow globally. To specifically understand the impact of cross-border payment challenges, we spoke to two of the leading 6-figure B2B wholesale exporters in ASEAN to discuss their business and cross-border payment experiences, challenges, and how they overcame them.
Golf Shafts Asia was established in 2005 to give clubmakers, golf shop operators, and golf professionals fast and cost-effective access to an extensive range of golf shafts, heads, grips, and clubmaking accessories.
Today, Golf Shafts Asia (GSA Global) is the preferred distributor of premium golf shafts to Asian golf retailers, with over 400 golf retailers, golf stores, and golf businesses enjoying the low prices, fast on-time delivery, and superior customer service that our dealer network offers.
With a customer base across 30 countries spanning six continents, they currently bill most of their customers via online banking or cross-border payment platforms.
Payment Challenges & Solutions
With global payments come specific challenges, like high bank transfer fees. GSA Global wanted to find a partner that provided easy setup, outstanding customer service , and ongoing support to address these issues. They were also on the lookout for solutions that made it easier for their customers to make payments without paying bank fees.
After consideration, GSA Global switched to Payoneer and opted for the Local Receiving Accounts offering. Setting up an account was very easy and the customer service team was deeply connected to the unique challenges faced by exporters, ensuring GSA Global could confidently get paid from global customers.
By switching to Payoneer payment solutions, they started seeing increased customer satisfaction, reduced payment processing times, and increased efficiency in order handling. They also overcame logistical and financial challenges in selling to countries worldwide.
Success stories from SEA #2
Luxclusif is a tech and data driven B2B platform recently acquired by FARFETCH that enables both the sale and acquisition of second-hand luxury goods to/from auctions, retailers, e-commerce platforms, and stores worldwide.
They identified that the pre-owned Luxury trade in Japan was already very professionalized nine years ago, but domestic markets dominated the sales, leaving a huge opportunity to go global and export to where the demand was more significant, such as the US and EU.
Luxclusif went through 3 stages in these nine years: Traders > Providers > Enablers. As traders, they treated the items as commodities, simply trading for a competitive price. As providers, they started to incorporate tech and more product value through better curation, improved supply chain, and high-quality information and photos of the items. And finally, as enablers, they focused on Tech Solutions enabling the Marketplaces to integrate pre-owned on their business models (Second Life with FARFETCH, and Florentia Village).
They work with global clients such as FARFETCH (the UK and China), Selfridges (UK), Tradesy (US), and Hudson’s Bay (CD).
Payment Challenges and Solutions
Sending payment reminders was a real challenge to ensure timely payments of invoices, along with creating a system that could accept all types of multi-currency payments without any hassles.
They needed a payment solution that would provide convenience and flexibility to their customers and support their operational needs of selling worldwide – with the ability to charge customers in multiple currencies and countries. It would also need to simplify operational needs so Luxclusif could continue selling worldwide and receiving payments in multiple currencies and countries.
Luxclusif switched to Payoneer and started using the Receiving and Sending Funds offering.
By switching to Payoneer, Luxclusif immediately recognized the flexibility in managing payments and enjoyed better service and convenience.
Critical lessons for other businesses
Selling to countries worldwide presents logistical and financial challenges that can be overcome by using the correct payment solutions. The secret lies in choosing the right partners. Before creating your payment system, look around and see the solutions that already exist in the market. Luxclusif, for instance, has essential partners in multiple areas – Logistics, Payment Solutions, Commercial, Operational, and Merchandise.
Navigating the Global Payment Landscape with Payoneer
Payoneer’s Request a Payment service enables business owners to send payment requests and invoices to their international clients easily. It also provides safe and secure payments via credit card, eCheck, or local bank transfer. Payoneer’s payment processing fees are low, and currency exchange rates are high, giving business owners more local currency for their dollars, pounds, or euros.
Learn more about Payoneer’s Request a Payment service here. https://www.payoneer.com/