If you’re looking to expand your ecommerce business into the international marketplace, it is important that you make your website global friendly. To start selling to an international customer base, your products and business need to appeal to their tastes and shopping preferences.
There are some core aspects to consider when setting up your ecommerce website for international sales. Approximately 70% of online searches are made in languages other than English and it has been estimated that Asia has more internet users than Europe and America combined. This highlights the importance of adapting your domestic website to your new audience, tailoring your language for easy user navigation and accounting for different purchasing habits or preferences by location.
Here are 10 ways to optimise your website for international customers and encourage your new customer base to engage with and purchase your products.
Offer multiple-currency payment options
When shopping online, most customers will be looking to use their local currency to make a transaction, and could be put off making a purchase if they are not able to. Offering payment options in local currencies makes your products more accessible to your international customer base. There are API tools available that will convert your product prices into multiple currencies to keep your product pricing up to date with changes in exchange rates and make it easier for your business to offer multiple-currency payment options.
Translate web copy
If you are launching your products in a country with a different native language, you will need to translate your web pages so your new costumes can easily navigate your website. If a visitor cannot understand the language of your website copy, they will not be able to engage with your products in the same way and it can make them less likely to make a purchase. When translating your webpages, avoid reliance on auto-translation tools as these may be inaccurate or fail to account for changes in common terms of phrase. Instead, consider hiring a translator to change your web copy so that your website reads well and is accessible to all of your users.
Multi-language customer service
Translating your ecommerce website also needs to go beyond page copy. In order to resolve customer questions or problems and make your business more approachable to your international customer, you will need to consider methods of multi-language customer service. Installing an AI chatbot with translation features can be a simple way to implement this, and can often be cheaper than outsourcing international customer service representatives. However, there may be instances when your customer service chatbot cannot solve a problem, in these cases your customer may need to communicate with someone from your business. Ensuring that you are able to offer customer service in languages native to the countries you operate within can improve your customers’ experience and even contribute to increased average order value and reduced cart abandonment.
To make your new products accessible to your international customer base, you will need to set up cross-border shipping. If you decide to ship items from your business’s main location, your customer may have to pay high delivery fees and could have to wait longer for their items to be shipped. For certain items, customers may be willing to do this, however, to make your products more accessible to your international customers, consider setting up drop shipping in other countries. This can speed up delivery times for your customers, and as this would only involve domestic delivery fees, also reduce the amount customers have to pay to receive their items. Ensure that your website clearly outlines your delivery options and shipping costs so your customers understand these before they make a purchase. Additionally, for international shipments, consider implementing online order tracking on your website to give your customers added reassurance.
Offer popular payment options
Different markets and countries can have different preferred payment methods. For example, customers in the United States prefer making online payments using credit cards, whereas customers in China usually opt for digital payment options for their online purchases. Ensuring that your checkout process accommodates for these preferences can lead to increased sales and improved customer relationships.
Optimise your international websites for mobile
Mobile ecommerce (or m-commerce) is becoming an increasingly popular way for shoppers to make purchases. In 2017, mobile ecommerce sales accounted for 70% of all online shopping in China and India. There is also a rise in m-commerce in countries such as the UK, USA and Germany, which is expected to make up 33% of all online transactions. Although mobile commerce has different levels of popularity in different countries, ensuring that your international ecommerce platform is optimised for mobile users can help to improve sales and appeal to your customers’ preferred way of shopping.
Create country-specific social media pages
Driving engagement and marketing your new international website can help to increase your sales. Consider setting up specific social media accounts for the countries that your business sells to, this way you can create country-specific content and align your products with different public holidays, seasons and customer tastes. Promoting your brand on social media engages customers with your brand across different platforms, increasing your brand’s exposure which can contribute to generating sales.
Remove text from images
To make your website easy to adapt for international customers, remove text from your website images. This text is often not picked up by automated translator software and if your customers don’t understand your website or the images that they are being shown, they can be less likely to make a purchase. Removing text allows you to use the same images across your different websites, saving your business time and money on creating new web content.
Optimise for local search
When setting up your website for international sales, you will also need to consider how to optimise your website to appear on local search engine results pages. Conduct research into popular local search terms for your industry, and aim to include these across your website, where appropriate. Additionally, your business may require multiple versions of the same website if you are looking to provide country-specific products, and will need to register with top level domains such as .uk, .ae, and .de, for example. Ensure that your metadata, as well as your website content, is also written in the local language to help improve your performance on local search engines.
Consider using a content delivery network (CDN)
Ensuring that your website is running as efficiently and quickly as possible is a universal method for setting up a successful website. Website speed is also crucial for reducing bounce rates, as customers can become easily frustrated by long website loading times and will leave your site. Depending on the server that your website uses, your website speed can be impacted by how far a visitor is from your server. A content delivery network (CDN) uses a global server network that routes any page request to the nearest server, reducing page load times for your website visitors all over the world.
Once your website is set up for international visitors, make sure to conduct rigorous testing before its launch. If possible, conduct user testing with people from the countries that you have optimised your website for or hope to market to. Testing can uncover any problems or issues with your website that can be solved before your website’s launch, giving your business the best possible start in your new markets.
Setting up your ecommerce website for international sales is a worthwhile investment in your business's international expansion. Conduct thorough research into the consumer habits of your chosen markets so you can create a user experience that rivals domestic competitors and draws the attention of new visitors.