How to prepare your online store for global sales
According to Econsultancy, 45% of global shoppers buy goods from overseas stores. If you don’t sell your items on foreign markets, start now.
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Millions of international buyers may be within your reach, but before you start attracting them to your online shop, think about the technical, cultural and logistical factors. Think how online buyers think:
- What if they don’t understand the English language?
- What if they don’t have comprehensive information at the beginning of the shopping process?
- What if they fail to see multiple options for checkout and delivery?
The answer is: they’re likely to abandon their shopping carts. Find out how to avoid this and how to prepare your online shop for global sales.
There are some key points every international retailer must be familiar with:
- Linguistic diversity
- Taxes & duties
- Payment methods
- International delivery.
English is NOT spoken by everyone in the world. If you’re an online seller based in the UK or US and want to sell your items in Germany, you need to ensure that your German website is in … German. This is what most of your potential buyers will expect …
.. to browse products in their native language.
Even though English is the most popular language, 7 billion people worldwide speak as many as 6,500 languages. Many of them are not keen to try out their foreign language skills for online shopping purposes.
Millions of potential buyers are within your reach but may struggle with the language barrier!
How to deal with linguistic diversity?
Luckily, in the eCommerce world of today the language the barrier is finally overcome!
You can use a cross-border tool provider to take a load off your chest. You can expect support in a number of tasks:
- Publishing foreign listings
- Multilingual communication
- and much more.
In addition to finding an eCommerce partner who will help you translate and localise your shop:
- Do a little bit of research on your own: read about the foreign culture, lifestyle, slang and what is considered appropriate or offensive.
- Provide your clients with reliable and helpful customer service who will communicate in their native language.
Your efforts will pay off and you will inspire your international customers with a feeling of trust and confidence.
Taxes & duties
Taxes are a complex issue that must be considered before taking the leap into foreign markets. You are advised to learn about various aspects in this regard, for example:
- Whether you have to register for tax in your target countries
- Whether duties should be paid at the point of shipment or whether customers expect to pay them
- What the thresholds for VAT registration are.
How to deal with taxes & duties?
Do your research and feel free to ask for help! There are tax experts who will provide you with advice on local tax regulations and will give you essential legal information. It’s also worth finding out what the local government says about local taxes and VAT.
Taxes give you possibilities of financial benefits too. There are a number of opportunities you’re encouraged to explore. For example, being a European merchant registered for VAT and selling on selected international markets, e.g. the USA or Australia, you can VAT free your listings.
Don’t assume that people in every country have bank accounts or credit cards and choose to pay this way.
There are many ways to pay online, for instance:
- The Japanese prefer to pay cash on delivery
- Germans tend to use ELV bank transfers
- French use Carte Bancaire.
According to Econsultancy…
… alternative payments like direct debits, PayPal, digital wallets, mobile payments and real time bank transfers are rapidly increasing in popularity in many European countries.
If you’re aware of this, you can avoid a situation in which customers may not finalise a transaction because you didn’t offer them their preferred method of payment.
How to deal with payment method issues?
Global payments: your payment method checklist
- Choose payment methods you’re willing to accept
- Make sure you include payment methods preferred by your customers
- Add all the options and logos (e.g. PayPal) in the basket
- Consider how alternative payment types will flow within the checkout process
- Make sure payment is easy and user-friendly for your customers
- Show approximate pricing in any currency, including the ones you’re unlikely to accept.
What makes shoppers happy?
Among other things:
- delivery time
- delivery flexibility
- low shipping charges.
Delivery time is of utmost importance here, which can be a bit tricky if you sell items items abroad. Not only is it about longer distances, but also about stock synchronisation. Stock levels at home must show sales abroad in real time and your home and foreign accounts must be co-ordinated.
You don’t want your customers to wait for the items that are not there. You don’t want your customers to be annoyed by the fact that they have ordered items that are not in stock!
Below check what makes shoppers happy.
According to Statista, 56% of online shoppers leave without paying when presented with unexpected costs.
Make your total shipping costs transparent right from the beginning. International shipping is no exception. Consider adding shipping costs to the product price so that you can offer your potential customer the free shipping option.
What’s our psychological stand on shipping?
- We see buying online in itself as a free delivery benefit
- We don’t perceive shipping articles purchased online as an extra service. This is in contrast with traditional shopping, in which case we see shipping an item to our house as a special effort
- Free shipping gives us the illusion of choice
- The power of free: we tend to overvalue most things that come for free, considering it a good deal.
How to make the most of delivery options?
Facts speak in favour of offering free shipping, which works like a psychological trick. The concept of “free” increases the likelihood of finalising a purchase. So instead of a product discount, offer your customers free shipping!
Additionally remember to:
- Think about how your current logistics can guarantee competitive delivery times
- Check your local courier’s reputation to make sure your customers will not be served by somebody who doesn’t show up or delivers broken goods
- Give your customers the possibility of tracking a purchase. 94% of German shoppers and 96% of British buyers say that tracking a purchase is essential or nice to have.
On top of all this, remember to make sure to synchronise your stock when you sell abroad. Too much to handle? Bear in mind that there are services that can set it up for you so that all stock sync automatic and hassle-free.
Whether you sell your product on your domestic market or abroad, some of your customers are likely to return your items for various reasons. Return rates vary in different countries. For example, return rates in Germany are quite high due to free returns. Also, long-distance deliveries may involve an array of legislation.
How to deal with returns?
- First of foremost, make it easy! Keep in mind that what online shoppers want are hassle-free returns. In Canada, 65% of customers will shop more from a seller who offers an easy returns policy.
- Consider local legislation in different countries and how likely customers are to return items.
- Include your international returns policy on your website as most buyers will want to familiarise themselves with it before purchasing your goods.
Finally: promote your online shop abroad
Let foreign buyers see your shop … but how to market your business overseas?
If you have concerns about advertising your shop abroad, you can find online services that will let you test their localisation & translation products for free, but may also help you with the promotion abroad free of charge.
It’s worth considering various marketing ideas:
- Google AdWords
- Google Shopping
- Social Media.
… are good channels to give your shop great visibility in foreign search results.
Before you go ahead with the promotion of your shop, remember to make it look as local as possible by:
- optimising and adapting your website to the local market
- offering your customers listings and customer service in their own language
- ensuring the shop and the design are adapted to local standard.
In a nutshell…
We have brought up the most essential points related to starting international sales:
- Linguistic diversity
- Taxes & duties
- Payment method
- Promotion abroad
To ensure your success on the global scene:
- Learn how to satisfy the demanding online shopper and let them browse your catalog in their native language
- Show the uniqueness of your offer
- Provide clear information at the outset, especially total costs: never wait to extra costs
- Offer multiple payment methods and free shipping.
Do your market research, choose your target countries, observe global trends and create a master plan. Let a cross border tool provider help you with the logistics needed for your international expansion.
You’re likely to keep adjusting your master plan as you go along, but a good one will keep you on track. As Benjamin Franklin used to say: By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
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Webinterpret has already helped over thousands of online sellers expand their markets on a global scale. Our services are intended for eBay, Amazon, Rakuten and webstore sellers.
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