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Things to Consider for International E-commerce

03/05/2019 | Share:

Your business is doing well in your home country and you’ve now decided it could be time to expand your business into other countries. Widening your reach often means narrowing your strategies to provide a localised user experience. We look at some user-focussed ideas to consider when thinking about venturing into international e-commerce.

Local research and demand

First thing’s first. Do some research to see whether any countries would benefit from your product. Are they interested? Is there local competition already or do you have a gap in the market ready for the taking? Perhaps you’ve had foreign visitors to your online store that you can’t currently provide for? Before venturing out into the wide world, you need to make sure that there will be a demand for your product in your target areas.

Localised pages

If you want to expand to other regions of the world, it is beneficial to localise your website to give people a more relatable experience. For example, imagine you’re visiting the Amazon Website. Amazon is a US company, but when you access it from the UK you’ll usually land on the UK version of the site. This has several benefits to someone in the UK:

  • It provides the user with deals unique to that country. Someone in the UK would not be interested in US Independence Day offers.
  • The vocabulary is not jarring and provides a more localised experience. For example, people in the UK would not search for “sneakers” nor would they have a zip-code or state in their address.   
  • The currency is in pounds (£) and not dollars ($), so they know the value of items they’re interested in.
  • VAT will be included in the price, unlike the US.

In addition to this, Amazon provides their services in the language of the target country. People can’t buy your product if they can’t read your site. If English is not the spoken language of the country you want to target, it makes sense to not only translate your site but to localise it and to a high standard. If the localisation is not done correctly, your site may deter more people than it attracts.

Localised payment options

In addition to providing a localised user experience whilst browsing and shopping, it is also important to consider the preferred payment methods in the countries you are expanding in. There’s now a wide range of alternative payment methods to credit and debit cards. PayPal is one of the big ones, however in China, Alipay is the most used alternative payment method. In the Netherlands, they prefer to use iDEAL whereas in India, they prefer cash on delivery. This takes us back to our first point. It’s important to do your research—you don’t want a willing customer who can’t pay.

Local regulations

By conducting business internationally, you may also need to take heed of local laws and regulations. For example, in the EU the GDPR rule now means that customer’s data must be secure and consent must be given. There will be different laws on personal data outside of the EU.

Additionally, your store and products may be legally registered in your home country, but you need to make sure you are not infringing any copyright or trademark laws in another country or area.

There may also be different age restrictions on products you are selling or bans altogether.

Investing in local influencers for your product

Influencers on social media are becoming more and more popular. These people, with thousands of social media followers, have a large reach and can boost your international e-commerce efforts. The right influencers for you will already have a large following in your target area and will know how to communicate or demonstrate the benefits of your product in their local culture and language. They’ll be trusted by their followers to show them relevant products and if it’s obvious that the influencer trusts your product, so will the followers. Read our blog post on mastering influencer marketing here.

Expanding on social media

This relates to both localising websites and the local influencers. Some larger companies have dedicated social media pages for different countries and regions. This fuels their international e-commerce efforts by providing a more localised experience for the customer because they can interact with your business in their native language. This also means that you’ll need someone who can speak the lingo to manage your social media posts and customer interaction. Google translate will not suffice here!

International shipping

It’s great if you’re getting interest from abroad but its all for nothing if you can’t ship internationally! Look into a fulfilment strategy that can enable you to effectively deliver to your international customers.

Ogden Fulfilment offers bespoke international fulfilment solutions. Check our services for more information.

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