One of the challenges of e-commerce is international expansion. There are complexities around ecommerce websites, language, SEO, payments, taxes, technical aspects… It can be difficult to target international audiences as they will inherently expect their own language, culture, and currency. Just having local language landing pages make very little difference. Openvalley builds ecommerce websites that are ready for your global expansion.
As online sales skyrocket in developing markets, an online presence is a low-risk way to test new markets and complement existing store footprints. eMarketer estimates that 2015 global eCommerce already accounts for 7.5 percent of global retail sales, and is forecasted to grow to 12.4 percent by 2019. To serve customers well and tap into the growth of international e-commerce, e-tailers must communicate accurate information and then deliver on their promises. Failure to manage these challenges will translate into customer dissatisfaction.
Here are some of the key steps to think through before the international roll out of your ecommerce e shop:
On site technical optimization of the website
Languages,, geotargeting in Google Webmaster tools, making your website load quickly; title, meta tag and url optimization for each country targeted, hreflang…Optimizing your website for international expansion is key.
Translation, SEO oriented
When going abroad, we need to understand that not everyone speaks English. Most buyers would prefer to buy items in their native tongue, and under the rules of the country they live in.
Selling items successfully abroad is not like selling them domestically; it’s all about building trust. Machine translations (or even human translations that aren’t eCommerce specific) erode that trust), so the translation of your online store is a key component of your international success.
Another important aspect is to integrate international SEO as part of the translation process. SEO is just as critical for prospects to find you outside of your home market as it is inside, but often marketers overlook SEO for non-English-speaking markets. Your website may require additional keywords to cover the various ways in which people search on a specific topic in a local market. At the same time, the source content must be translated carefully so that they match local search patterns as well.
Design / culture
Localization means making your site adapted to cultures you’re targeting. Therefore localization of an e-commerce website is critical to business success. When dealing with different countries you should be aware of the differences in cultures to make sure business does not interfere with any values or is misinterpreted. It’s important for everyone to understand your message so you should work to make sure your website has gone through tests to make sure it can be used internationally
We will have to be aware of color connotations, and to figure out what certain colours mean in different countries before designing your website. In most of Europe and the Americas, white is associated with purity and marriage. In Japan, China and parts of Africa, white is traditionally the colour of mourning
Payment processing and currencies
Multi-Currency pricing allows merchants to price goods and services in virtually any currency, helping to create the end-to-end feel of being a multi-national merchant without actually “setting up shop” in the target market.
People generally feel more comfortable engaging in online monetary transactions when their own form of currency is used, so make it is important that the shopping cart software is capable of performing currency conversion during the checkout process.
Different countries also have different preferred payment systems when it comes to global e-commerce. Research has to be conducted to find out how your target markets expect to pay for products. Brazilians are big on mobile, so you may decide to offer your Brazilian customers an online mobile website. The Chinese typically pay upon product delivery. Germans, predominantly concerned about privacy issues, prefer physical invoices and debit cards as opposed to credit card payments online. An e-tailer selling in Germany without offering bank transfer puts a barrier in their own way. PayPal seems omnipresent, but it’s not available or accepted everywhere.
Shipping and delivery
Of course, a large part of global e-commerce entails how you will get your products to your customers. Shipping costs vary wildly depending on which countries you’re servicing. Expectations around delivery timetables differ from country to country as well.
How fast do consumers in your target countries expect their products? Do they want an estimated delivery date displayed on your website? And for that matter, what are your shipping and delivery logistics within each target country? Are there any shipping restrictions in your target country that could pose a serious roadblock to delivering your items?
Make shipping terms affordable and handle your own returns. The significance of efficient shipping is vital as this is essentially your first physical touch point with a new global customer. Introducing Free Shipping can be a considerable cost when entering new territory but staying competitive is just as crucial.
Marketing and consistent branding
For each and every foreign market that you expand into, it is extremely important that your end users feel that they can trust your localized website; lacking trust, they will abandon it and spend money elsewhere.
Part of engendering consumer faith in your company’s website for global e-commerce is maintaining consistent branding across all of your site iterations while localizing to their cultural expectations. Think about how much of your visual color scheme and layout you can reproduce, keeping in mind how translated text can expand or contract—take up more or less space—within content frames, lists or buttons on your localized website.
Online customer service and global ecommerce
We don’t have to tell you how important reliable and localized customer support is for global e-commerce, no matter what country you’re dealing with. Every customer touch point is an opportunity for positive impact on your company’s local and global reputation..
Are you going to provide social media account dedicated to the country you’re localizing for? Localizing all marketing communications, customer service interactions and having a local address is recommended. Make sure you have a local phone number in each country you are targeting.
Offer a clear, easy-to-understand process for returns and after-sales service
Focus on mobility
Even if you have a mobile or smartphone marketing strategy for English-speaking customers, you may not realize how important mobile really is for people who speak other languages, in many other parts of the world. In developing countries, it is often not just the platform of choice, but the only platform on which you can consistently reach your prospects and customers, regardless of age or socioeconomic level.
Add social media to the global marketing mix
We help you define a strategy and find out exactly what approaches and messages resonate on local social media platforms. For example, customers in Turkey would expect to find your company on Facebook, while prospects in China would look for you on Weibo. No matter which platform you use, you will need to adapt – not just translate – your content for those markets.
Your international expansion means also adapting your website to local legislation. An ecommerce site that is being internationalized will be governed by the law of the country the business is based in. You will be required to comply with the local laws for compliance, taxation etc…and we build ecommerce websites to make it compliant with legislation.
At Openvalley, we select the right technology, and our team has the experience to support your international expansion and to help you navigate the complexities of international e-commerce. Work with Openvalley and enter the world of global e-tailing.