Accompanying the rise in popularity of online shopping are increasing global ecommerce opportunities. Shoppers can get the latest and greatest products with just a few clicks, even if their favorite store is literally an ocean away. Brands can also pursue an omni-channel approach—offering physical stores and online-only options for shoppers near and far. It’s an exciting time for the industry.
But global ecommerce, while rewarding, is not effortless. It requires handling more moving parts to facilitate smooth, secure international sales. Here are four common global ecommerce hurdles entrepreneurs will have to overcome to be competitive in a worldwide market.
Accepting payment on an international scale is a multi-faceted challenge. How can customers pay? How does payment preference vary by location? How can you ensure secure payment regardless of endpoint device or location?
The first step is understanding the needs and wants of your target market. As CPC Strategy writes, consumers prefer different payment methods depending on what they’re accustomed to using. While over half of shoppers in Japan prefer to pay with a credit card online, 70 percent of shoppers in Germany would choose Bank Wire Transfer or Direct Debit as a payment method. Failing to offer the best payment method to customers could cause them to abandon their carts and shop elsewhere.
Global ecommerce payment innovation has progressed in leaps and bounds, and cloud based ecommerce solutions have allowed online stores to expand their range of payment options without sacrificing security. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) becomes even more important when you’re crossing borders.
To sell to an international customer base, you’ll have to speak their language and a quick auto translation will do more harm than good. Take this cautionary tale courtesy of Business News Daily: When KFC opened in Beijing in the 1980s, its slogan “finger-lickin’ good” translated to “eat your fingers off.”
In addition to accurately translating your online store’s offerings, including the home page, product descriptions and your contact information; you’ll have to implement customer service channels capable of handling inquiries in different languages and time zones. Simple, accurate translation often starts with your platform itself. For example, several of Shopify’s themes come translation ready—all your team has to do is select the language.
What may be legal to sell in your country may be illegal in another. Before you offer any products worldwide, do your due diligence—especially if you sell sensitive products. For example, some countries have strict rules regarding disclosure on nutritional labels. It’s your job to know your industry and how it relates to local laws so your ecommerce store does not accidentally land itself in hot water by violating them.
Logistics like shipping are especially important when it comes to online sales. When a shipment arrives and is cleared by customs, a logistics company driver must then upload items they need delivering and take them to designated pickup stations or delivery addresses. Online stores must set forth a firm shipping and delivery policy so customers know exactly what to expect. According to Ecommerce Guide, here are the staples of a solid policy that aims to prevent misunderstandings and costly mistakes:
–Expected delivery timeframe (so international buyers know when to expect packages)
–Cost (while cost may be higher for global shipping, it’s better to be honest up front)
–Special shipping promotions and conditions (free after a threshold, discounted, etc.)
Global ecommerce is on track to grow immensely in the coming months and years. As you set your sights on seamless international sales, face these hurdles head on to figure out the best solution for your customers and your bottom line.