One of the biggest challenges, and opportunities, of ecommerce is that rather than having potential customers confined to one geographical area like a physical store, you have prospective customers worldwide. In 2016, B2C ecommerce sales worldwide are expected to surpass a hefty $1.92 trillion. But while the opportunity is vast, tapping into it requires careful consideration, especially when it comes to your checkout.
Online shopping experiences are becoming more and more personalized as customers can be increasingly segmented based on browsing behavior and demographics. But another important factor is adapting shopping and checkout experiences based on their actual location.
What might seem seamless to a shopper in Ireland would likely be out-of-tune with what a customer in Japan would be comfortable with. This is important because if a shopper hesitates during your checkout process, they are likely to abandon the purchase altogether.
Adapting your shopping experience to customers’ local reality means having a website and shopping cart that automatically appears native. Most achieve this by first detecting which country the customer is browsing in. From that, localized webpages and cart pages can be automatically displayed. This includes displaying the right currency, payment methods, language, price and design so that they align with the given customer’s most likely preferences.
Displaying local prices is a vital step to localizing your cart. According to a study by WorldPay, price is the most common reason for shoppers to abandon a purchase. A cart displaying a price in a foreign currency can greatly contribute to potential customers’ hesitation before a purchase. But you can easily avoid this by having a cart that displays prices in a customer’s local currency.
In addition, the price of your product might need to be different by location. What you can charge in the U.S. might not be possible in China. Dynamic pricing, which uses algorithms that can be based on a number of factors, including location, can generate higher conversion rates because prices will be more relevant to specific markets.
In addition to localizing currency and prices, it’s important to keep in mind that credit cards are not always the preferred method of payment in different countries around the world. For example, in Europe, many customers prefer real-time banking options through which they're redirected to their online bank accounts. Alternatively, in Japan, payment method mistrust is often a big problem when it comes to online purchases. Many Japanese customers prefer to use Konbinis, convenience stores where they can pay for online goods with cash, constituting 25% of the market in Japan. Therefore, being aware of differences in preferred payment methods between countries will help to ensure you’re not missing opportunities for growth.
Language barriers and miscommunications can cause a huge disconnect with customers and a great deal of hesitation when it comes to completing a purchase. Don’t let language barriers or simple miscommunications be reasons for losing your international customers. Talking to your customers in their native language will greatly improve your connection with them and boost your conversion rate.
With over 6,500 languages spoken worldwide, translating your website into your customers’ native language may seem daunting. Luckily, you can reach 90% of online customers by supporting an ecommerce experience in these 13 languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic and Swedish. This includes providing customer support, whether during the purchase path or post-purchase. With 55% of consumers saying they only buy from sites in their native language, it’s imperative to speak their language to capitalize on the global market.
Merely providing local currencies and native dialect usually isn’t enough to create an experience that’s really conducive to users feeling at home. Diving deeper in your target customer’s culture will help you to understand how they will perceive the trustworthiness of your website.
Hofstedes's 5 dimensions of culture can offer some guidance for businesses to understand the similarities and differences of customers by evaluating: Masculinity verses Femininity Index, Long-Term verses Short-Term Orientation, Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance and Individualistic verses Collectivist societies.
A country such as China scores highly on masculinity and low on Power Distance and Individuality and Long-Term Orientation, meaning these customers may prefer photography of groups of people rather than individuals and may be conscious of security. This can get pretty granular but if you really want to penetrate a particular overseas market, it can have an impact on your conversions.
Simpler design considerations, such as color, can also be important. A study of Chapman Freeborn in Germany found that silver call-to-actions buttons were most effective when compared to green, orange and red alternatives, perhaps from their strong connection to Mercedes. Researching cultural attitudes and preferences may give you valuable insight you can adopt to help continue to localize your website and cart.
Integrating support for the most widely used international currencies, payment methods and languages is imperative for finding success in reaching and converting customers around the world and growing globally. If you want to increase your success even more in overseas markets, consider what design elements might work best as well.
Customers are increasingly expecting more personalized shopping and optimized checkout experiences. Do the work for them and make sure your ecommerce store is localized to make their checkout as easy and hesitation-free as possible. Only then will you start to realize substantial revenue growth from your international customers.