So, you’ve got your international eCommerce sites up and running. You have beautifully translated content and may even have invested in localisation services to help attract and engage eCommerce customers from lucrative overseas markets. But your customers still aren’t completing purchases.
Cart abandonment – if you’re lucky to even get your visitors that far – is a common problem for those starting out on their international eCommerce journeys. Customers engage with the site, fill their trolleys and then abandon them at the last minute.
Customers failing to check out happens in all markets, but sometimes there is a country or region-specific solution that can dramatically improve your conversion rates.
We run through some of the key problems that global eCommerce sites are facing today – and propose solutions to drive up your sales.
Problem 1. You’ve barked up the wrong tree
There can be many reasons why a certain market just isn’t right for your product and in some cases, you might not find this out until you’ve already launched there. If consumers simply aren’t interested in your offering, it might be best to cut your losses and move on sooner rather than later.
However, there are several measures you can take before entering new markets to test them out:
- Offer your product through a local marketplace before launching your eCommerce site in other countries or regions. Here’s an extensive list of local marketplaces around the world that you can use to test out the appetite for your product. According to Pitney Bowes research on the topic, sales through marketplaces account for 60 per cent of total global online sales, so they’re a great place to tentatively launch your product without commitment.
Check out our advice on How to Sell to an International Market on eBay to get started with a marketplace solution
- It’s sensible to consider cultural factors, such as whether the country has an individualistic or collectivistic culture and whether it is an indulgent culture or somewhere that values self-restraint.
- Check if it’s even possible to run an eCommerce business there. A billion people in Asia, for example, are unbanked and unable to buy goods online, according to the WorldBank In addition, there are large numbers of people living in the Middle East with no real postal address and therefore fulfilling orders is impossible. In these regions, careful research is required and consultation with localisation experts can save you valuable time and money.
- Make sure you are aware of each region’s individual regulatory and legal requirements for running eCommerce businesses. In China, for example, you will be required to obtain an internet content provider license, without which you will not be able to engage in online sales or take payments. In Europe, you’ll need to register for VAT when your turnover exceeds a certain limit. Careful consideration of these factors will protect your business from major upsets and even legal action.
Problem 2. You’ve been busted
If you’ve not got your localisation just right, consumers in overseas markets can start to suspect they are dealing with a foreign business. This is not always a problem but in a lot of cases it can impact on trust and you could see potential customers abandon their shopping in response.
We’ve talked about the importance of localising content before, but localisation is also about ensuring the checkout process has no sticking points. Major international brands can often get away with it, but for businesses breaking into markets for the first time, it’s usually best to try to blend in as local.
Here are some examples of ‘red flags’ that can alert consumers in other markets to the fact that they are dealing with an overseas retailer:
- In Brazil, anyone completing an online purchase will be asked to input their tax number, or ‘CPF’.
- A field asking for ‘last name’ (or a translation thereof) is actually a very British thing and will mean nothing to some overseas markets.
- The way the UK orders address and date fields will not be applicable to users in many other countries and this needs to be taken into account.
Problem 3. What is my size?
One of the most common reasons why overseas consumers abandon their carts is that they simply can’t find the information they need to confidently complete their transaction.
This can be easily dealt with through research and localisation of information such as sizing charts, returns policies and currency/pricing information.
Here are some examples:
- European clothing sizes are different from UK sizes and consumers in Germany will have no idea what a size ‘10’ is or if it’s right for them.
- American shoppers on a UK-English site may find that the search functionality doesn’t let them find what they are looking for. Remember, in US English ‘galoshes’ are wellington boots and ‘thongs’ are flip-flops. The US is a good example as we can easily understand both sides with a little explanation, but this is where language translation services come into their own; a good translator will understand these nuances in their specialist languages and ensure that your content makes sense to the target market.
Problem 4. Just let me pay!
If consumers can’t pay with their preferred method, some 16 per cent will not complete their purchase, according to research by FuturePay. When dealing with an international customer base, this is likely to become a very expensive problem if you don’t get it right.
Some 92 per cent of shoppers like to see prices in their local currency so show them what they want to see and then let them pay how they want to pay! Here are some ways to maximise sales:
- Enable users to select from a list of currencies from a central site.
- Accept the cards that locals commonly use in each market.
- Check for country-specific payment norms, such as the ELV (Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren) in Germany.
Problem 5. Logistics, logistics, logistics
Although this is the last sticking point on our list, it is perhaps the very first thing you need to consider when expanding your eCommerce business internationally. There is, after all, very little point in trying to sell to a new overseas market if you can’t send your products to your customers.
If buyers have to wait weeks for delivery they will not buy from you again. If they can’t return products that are faulty or don’t fit, they won’t buy from you in first place. Here are some fundamental logistical considerations:
- Will establishing local manufacturing help to reduce costs and facilitate overseas expansion?
- Is it affordable to send your UK-manufactured products to China, for example, or can you use local distributors?
- What are freight or warehousing costs/risks? (Shopify research has found that 57 per cent of consumers will cancel orders with shipping costs that they consider to be too high.)
- Is it worth signing up with a third-party logistics provider?
- Can you afford to offer free shipping? (37 per cent won’t complete their purchase unless free shipping is offered.)
Despite these sticking points, expanding into overseas markets can be a lucrative option for many eCommerce businesses, some of whom would be throwing money away if they didn’t expand overseas.
However, localisation in all its forms is vital to success, and this means taking care of the practical details, as well as the creative side of the business. After all, it’s all for nothing until the customer clicks ‘confirm order’.
Bubbles Translation has worked with thousands of companies to help them expand overseas. If you need a language translation services company on hand to increase the chances of your localisation success, have a chat with the team today.