Growing Internationally Means Catering to the Locals
A guest article written by Alon Eisenberg of Trusted Shops. They offer an extensive range of services such as customer reviews to promote trust and raise consumer confidence in their online shops. This means fewer aborted orders, higher rates of conversion and increased sales.
If you’re a small business owner, you have probably dreamt of selling your products worldwide. Twenty years ago, moms and pop shops might have thought this was impossible. However, through the developments of eCommerce, this is not only possible but very much a reality. Ironically, the best way to grow globally is to adjust your business locally. What does that mean and how can it be done?
When in Rome
You know what they say: When in Rome, try the pizza! Okay, that is definitely good advice, but the actual expression is “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. This means that you shouldn’t bring your cultural habits with you when visiting a foreign land. This is great advice when traveling, but your website should follow the same advice.
The first step towards localising your website is to have it translated. Though there are many translation tools out there, in my opinion, nothing takes the place of a professional translator. This is especially true if your online shop has a lot of rich content and product descriptions. Not everything can be translated perfectly from one language to another, so having a professional that really understand the nuances of the local language is the best option to reach those local customers and to win over their trust.
Besides making your customers feel safer by purchasing products in their own language, translating your site will greatly increase your search engine optimisation (SEO). If you sell really unique and niche products, you want your company to be found, don’t you? Well, then it makes sense to translate. A German shopper is much more likely to shop for “Kopfhörer” and not for “headphones”.
On a side note, having a review system in place will help your company build trust in new markets as well. Besides the trust-building quality of having a review system, Google also sees reviews as new (user-generated) content. This, in turn, helps your website rank higher in local search results.
Make your site look like a million bucks/yen/ pesos
Having your website translated is definitely the most important step when localising your website. It makes your potential customers feel more at home. The next step you’ll want to do is make your prices available in their local currencies as well. This will have a very similar effect in making visitors trust your shop more. Wouldn’t you always feel more comfortable buying something in pounds?
There are a lot of free and paid apps in shop software app-stores (like Magento or Shopify) that offer different solutions. Most of these apps will adjust their pricing in accordance with the ever-changing currency values.
We’ve got one last tip in terms of currency conversions. It’s one thing to convert your currencies to suit the local audience. However, it’s important to consider adjusting the prices to match the local competition. Certain products might be much more expensive in one market than another. Just because someone is willing to pay £100 for a backpack in the UK, doesn’t mean they would pay the 16,000 Rupees for one in India. Make sure to take your time and research your competition’s pricing in the markets you want to enter.
Get the show on the road (or on a plane, ship or bicycle!)
Okay, so you’ve got your site’s translations and currencies under control. Another great option to offer your customers is the ability to choose different shipping options. This might even be your first step if your resources don’t allow you to build a new local website right away. The more choices you offer your customers in terms of speed (or even company), the higher the chances of converting a basket collector into a checker-outer (okay, I just made up that last term, but you get the idea). Customers simply love having more options, and that is a universal concept!
Cash or Czech?
Our final piece of advice deals with payment. Just as you want to give your customers options for shipping, you’ll want to give them the freedom to pay with their preferred method. Every country has their preferences, as Germans like to pay with Sofort bank transfers, the Dutch like to use iDeal, and Italians often prefer to pay cash on delivery. This is also a comfort thing, so doing your research here is key. Check with popular retailers or the big marketplaces like Amazon to see what kind of payment options they use in those respective markets.
Making your products available to international markets can be a dream come true for any business. Though there are some obstacles to penetrate each market, they can be overcome with a little time and effort. Making your customers comfortable with buying from your website is the key to making your company grow globally. I’ve created a whitepaper that goes into more details about how to localise your website. Download it here.