Are you ready for international retail online? Here are ten factors you’ll need to take into consideration before you launch:
1. User Interface: How will you make your eCommerce platform user-friendly in each locale? Are shopping icons the same in all countries? How will word length and character choice impact buttons? Is there a need for separate software localization as part of your platform or portal?
2. Language Choice: How do you want your new international customers to access your site in their language? Automatic selectors and flags can be misleading, particularly for countries with multiple languages, like Canada, Belgium, or Switzerland.
3. Payment Processing: As we blogged about earlier this week, online shoppers prefer to purchase in their home currency, so your shopping cart should make the conversions. You’ll also want to consider the standard payment processing solutions in each market. Checkout may vary from country to country.
4. Exchange Rates and Taxes: Set prices that reflect exchange rates as well as your localized pricing strategy right from the start. Conversion norms also might be different from country to country. When it comes to VAT (Value Added Tax), make sure you build in the rules for when it applies.
5. International Laws: Legal implications from liability and privacy to return policies vary greatly from country to country, so make sure your eCommerce site adheres to local legal standards.
6. Customer Identification: How will you address your customer when they log in? Be aware of name order, level of formality, and even how many names your customers may have.
7. Communication Norms: What about your global voice? Many American companies have an informal style at home while opting for a more formal presence abroad.
8. Customer Service: How will you help? Live chat, a phone hotline, and/or email support in the customer’s language are some options. It’s best to have someone in-country to handle support (instead of hiring a translator to decode all those customer emails).
9. Search Engine Marketing: As part of a global SEM campaign, it’s worth taking the time to find keywords in your target countries (don’t just translate what works for you already). You’ll also need to understand which search engines customers prefer.
10. Social Strategy: Social media sites are a major focus when it comes to marketing, but it’s costly to assume that everyone is on Facebook or Twitter. Find out what sites potential customers are using and work from there.