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Lessons from April to take into May – the trends that matter.

Business · 7 min read

Trend Reports: April

April truly showered us with news from the e-commerce sphere. From new ways into the African marketplace and a change of direction for two apparel giants to a budding trade relationship between China and New Zealand that's showing no signs of slowing down, we explore the most important news for your business this month.

Africa is Open for Business

This month, we open with some exciting news from Africa, courtesy of e-commerce giant Jumia  – who has become the first African company to be listed on a major global stock exchange. Often dubbed the ‘Amazon of Africa’ Jumia has offered 17.6% of all company shares, and opened trading at US$14.50 on the New York Stock Exchange. And there were no shortage of buyers, with MasterCard Europe even pre-purchasing US$50million as Jumia raised $US196 million overall. Amazon is also looking for ways to innovate across the African continent, and is now allowing Kenyan customers to pay in cash at Western Union branches when they purchase on the site. Thanks to the launch of Amazon PayCode, they'll look to tap into the growth of cross-border commerce in the region, and the increasing fluidity between e-wallets in an area where mobile commerce is on the rise – which you can read more about in our Mobile Commerce 101 guide.

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April also saw the launch of the DHL Africa eShop. Serving previously untapped markets in sub-Saharan Africa, this collaboration with MallforAfrica launched in April with over 200 US and UK retailers on board, aiming to connect the growing demanding market with products from around the world. Currently operating in 17 countries, DHL Africa eShop aims to tap into the anticipated growth of consumer spending on the continent, which is predicted to reach US$2.1 trillion by 2025 – with e-commerce accounting for up to 10% of that, according to McKinsey & Company.

A New Partnership for China

Despite an economic downturn and the twists and turns of the China/US trade war, retail sales grew by 8% in China in Q1, according to figures released in April by the National Bureau of Statistics. China is the world’s biggest e-commerce marketplace; projected to grow to almost US$2 trillion in 2019, it is responsible for 55.8% of all online sales. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that brands are doing all they can to make the most of this market.

Overlooking the 7,000-mile distance between the two, the New Zealand government is tapping into China’s online market, with the launch of the New Zealand Country Flagship Store on Tmall Fresh. Putting 18 of the nation’s biggest food and beverage brands into the digital Chinese shop window, this partnership – with the backing of Alibaba – aims to raise awareness, and shorten the supply chain, for kiwi brands in China.

Back in New Zealand, more and more businesses are buying into the relationship. In fact, over 3000 of them have joined a project to become part of Alipay – Alibaba’s mobile payment platform. With over 300,000 Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand each year, not to mention the 170,000 Chinese residents living in the land of the long white cloud, the ability to break down payment barriers (more Chinese tourists pay with their mobiles than cash) can only develop this relationship for years to come. The future looks bright for schemes like this, so it could be the ideal time for you to take advantage of the Chinese marketplace. If you're looking to expand into China, but are daunted by the idea, check out our myth-busting guide to doing business with the Chinese.

The Growing Shift to Thrift 

Gen Z shoppers have become more cautious about excessive consumption, and are becoming more and more attracted to thrift shops and sustainable brands, according to a report by The Center for Generational Kinetics. This trend is particularly popular in countries that have seen financial crises, and is creating a generation of frugal customers in Europe and Japan – but should we be worried? Well, if you’re an online brand with a sustainability problem, yes. If you’re not delivering value wider society as well as your customers, you could be in trouble. In the wake of growing climate activism around the world, shoppers are now looking at the company before they browse their products. Research by thredUP shows that 72% of shoppers prefer to buy from environmentally-friendly brands, while 59% expect clothes to be created ethically and sustainably.

The report also reveals that the second-hand market has grown 21 times than the new apparel market, and is estimated to reach $US51billion by 2023. So, it’s not surprising that 96% of senior retail executives want to advance their company’s sustainable fashion effort by 2020. We spoke to the founders of Dark Peak, who shared some fantastic insights into how to make your brand more sustainable.

Role reversal for Nike and Lululemon

With the market for women’s shoes and clothing dwarfing that of the men’s market, it’s a little surprising that women represent just 25% of Nike’s sales. It's possible, however, that March’s International Women’s Day spurred the company to do more, as they recently released an expanded range of sports bras and yoga pants. 

And while Nike goes after the girls, Lululemon are pivoting the other way. After recently signing Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles to be brand ambassador for their men's range, the company’s CEO admitted there was an awareness issue for Lululemon among men. Only 21% of the company’s business is currently coming from males, but Lululemon aim to double that by 2023 – as well as taking on the big players in the footwear game. While you may not be as big as Nike or Lululemon, the fashion world is ever-changing and ever-more demanding. Read our guide to Fast Fashion, and discover how one of DHL's unexpected partnerships led to a pleasant surprise.

Cracking the eSports Conundrum

With an estimated global reach of 194 million, brands are looking for the best way to cash in on the boom in live-streaming gaming sponsorship. In March of this year, the top ten eSports Twitch accounts were responsible for streaming over 72 million hours of content. Finding a way to monetize content without interrupting gameplay has always been the biggest issue, but now, GumGum Sports believe they’ve found the solution.

GumGum Sports offer brands and streamers the opportunity to run more targeted sponsorship campaigns via an integrated management platform. Easy to integrate with OBS and XSplit (the major streaming software partners), everyone from the biggest streams to the newest entries should be able to take advantage. And, with eSports being the talk of the town at April’s NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) 2019 showcase, this could be one to consider if you’re looking for a new way to advertise to this lucrative demographic.

And what’s coming up in May?

Magento’s Imagine 2019 will see over 3000 e-commerce experts head to Las Vegas’ Wynn Hotel for a conference in mid-May. As Brexit rumbles (slowly) on, we’ll no doubt see changes in the UK/Europe relationship. And, of course, all eyes will be on President Trump as he continues his trade war with China.

You can never tell what’s truly on the horizon, but thanks to their constant reassessment of the global commerce market, DHL Express's team of experts are perfectly placed to assist you with all your e-commerce needs. Capable of shipping to over 220 countries and territories worldwide, if you’d like to discuss your business’ evolving global options, get in touch with DHL Express today.


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