How to successfully run an international eCommerce website

The need to localise

Gone are the days where your geographical location limited your sales pitch. Nowadays, a great eCommerce site can host customers from all over the world at all hours of the day. However, when managing a multi-country eCommerce website, there are a number of considerations to ensure your customer gets the best possible user experience on your site.

It’s not just about adding a Google Translate widget and converting your currency. In order to have a truly effective global eCommerce website, you’ll need to cover the following bases to fully localise your site.

Tackle language issues

Is your website ready to accommodate buyers who don’t speak your language? If your eCommerce website is operating in non-English speaking territories, it’s important to adapt to this.

Although English is often seen as the lingua franca in communication across the world, people are more likely to shop in their own language. Speaking the potential customers’ language will make them trust the site more, so long as everything is translated correctly. A good quality translation, taking into account local idioms and terminology, is therefore necessary.

Also, be wary of dual language countries such as Belgium and Hong Kong, which require the site to be translated into both official languages, therefore not alienating potential consumers within the country by only offering the page in one language.

Additionally, depending on the language, there may be some design considerations too. For example, some languages are written from right to left, while others use more characters to explain the same in English on a page. Is your website design ready to accommodate such changes?

Consider style & design

It’s not just language issues that may affect the design of your site. Have you considered average internet speeds and frequently used mobile devices in your target countries? This will affect how your website appears to customers in other territories.

In addition, things like sizing units, times and dates are written differently in different countries, so this will need to be addressed so as to avoid confusion among your international customers.

Be aware of cultural differences

What is popular in one country won’t necessarily carry in another, while some items may not perform in one region, they may do very well in others. This is another area, where it is worth spending the time to research the local markets before you begin.

However, as long as you give yourself the option to change things on the fly, a bit of trial and error is okay. You can always ask international customers to give feedback post-purchase through an email survey, or open up your Live Chat channel to make sure customers are getting the very best experience from your website.

Ensure payment runs smoothly

Your typical payment process may not be universal across all target countries. For example, did you know that in Switzerland, paying via an invoice or bank transfer is widely offered by local businesses online?

It’s worth investing time researching the market and competitors’ sites to get an understanding of the typical payment processes in this territory. Is your website set up to allow for those? What about your accounting system?

Research local seller protection

To put it bluntly – non-paying customers may not be as easy to chase when they are operating under different laws. Not all countries have the same seller protection in place as the UK does. Educate yourself about the laws in the countries you are delivering to as much as possible and work with your legal department or advisors to put safeguards in place to stop fraud before it happens.

Looking for expert help when it comes to running an international eCommerce website? Get in touch with the Silverbean team today. We’ve been working with businesses all over the world since 2002, and understand eCommerce inside out.

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