Ecommerce is truly the industry that shows no signs of slowing down.
Statista predicts that the worldwide retail ecommerce sales will rise to nearly $3.88 trillion by 2020. Given these astonishing figures, it’s not surprising at all that everybody wants a slice of the pie.
And, what I like about the ecommerce sector most is that, with a lot of patience and planning, anyone can really take one.
Ecommerce is no longer the privilege of experienced traders or multinational companies with enormous budgets. With the rise of sophisticated and yet affordable trading platforms and tools, it is now available to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Most importantly, they are now given an amazing opportunity to reach new markets and customers all over the world.
However, in their attempt to expand their ecommerce store globally as fast as possible, many inexperienced businesses fail to set realistic goals and hurdle over some critical aspects of their business growth.
Here are a few steps you need to take when optimizing your store for international markets.
Prioritize Your Markets
Expanding your business internationally may cost you a penny.
This is exactly why you cannot offer the same level of service to the customers from every country in the world. Instead, you need to do a detailed market research and allocate your resources to those markets that will drive greater profits.
For example, you need to pay attention to the growth potential of the certain market. Namely, larger markets are more competitive and, therefore, have a lower growth potential.
To make sure whether moving to such a market is profitable enough, you need to compare its size with your resources.
Also, you need to assess the ease of expansion. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to start with those countries that have the same language, payment system and laws as your home country.
For example, it’s much simpler for a Canada-based business to sell in the U.S. than in China.
Finally, you need to pay attention to the market needs. Before you enter a certain market, you need to ask yourself whether there is a demand for products or services you offer.
Translate and Localize
Even though English is still lingua franca in the digital ecosystem, you should never assume that all your customers speak it.
For example, in some of the major markets, such as China, English is still a rarity. So, to reach out to your target audience properly, you need to speak their language.
Still, translating your content is not always enough. You need to pay attention to the quality of your translation, as well. Namely, studies tell us that the poor use of language discourages consumers from buying online.
Let’s go back to China once again. Did you know that, when translated into Chinese, Coca-Cola means “wax-flattened mare” or that the United States become “Beautiful Country?” No matter how awesome it may sound, this is not the translation you’re looking for.
So, if you’re expanding your business to, let’s say, Hong Kong, using Google Translate is out of the question. To make sure your site’s content is written in or translated into Cantonese properly, you should consider consulting a Hong Kong-based SEO company.
Local marketing specialists will add a pinch of local sensitivity to your content, and make it resonate with your Hong Kong customers.
Leverage International SEO
To boost your site’s visibility, you need to pay attention to how your international customers will find you.
This is exactly where international SEO steps in. Here are a few practices you should definitely invest in:
- Keywords. If you optimize your site for keywords in other languages, you will show up in your international buyers’ search results.
- Stick to country-specific domains. Search engines prioritize those sites that are relevant to local customers. For example, in Germany, www.websitename.de would rank higher than www.websitename.com. So, preferably, you should use ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level Domain). However, pay attention to ccTLDs, such as .co or .me that are treated like gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) by Google.
- On-page SEO is the holy grail of your international ecommerce website. To boost your relevance, you need to add the primary keywords in a target language to all important elements of your landing page, such as title tags, headlines, meta descriptions, URLs, alt tags, reviews, prices, etc.
Consider Different Payment Methods
The payment stage is the point at which international buyers abandon the shopping cart the most, either because their preferred payment method isn’t available or they’re not sure that their sensitive information will be safe.
So, to handle this problem, you first need to pay attention to the local consumers’ preferred payment methods. Since they fluctuate across different countries, it’s important to know what works best for a certain market.
For example, statistics show that 46% of Germans use online banking transfers, while 50% payments in the Czech Republic are made via cash on delivery.
Once you do your research, you need to choose a reliable payment provider. PayPal, for example, consistently ranks among the most prominent payment methods, based on its security, purchase protection, and simple cross-device use.
It provides you with another great option, and that’s the access to local funding methods. This means that you can collect payments in 25 currencies, not having to open a bunch of merchant accounts.
Back to You
Taking your ecommerce store global gives you an amazing opportunity for expansion and building a recognizable brand. However, it needs to be done wisely.
Choose markets that will bring profits.
Optimize your site for international search.
Pay special attention to localizing your site and creating fresh content in a target language.
Make sure your checkout page is tailored to your customers’ preferences.
Hope this helps!
Nate Vickery is a business consultant and an online author mostly focused on covering marketing and MarTech related trends and practices for startups and SMBs. He is the executive editor at Bizzmark Blog and a contributor at The Next Web.