If you’re looking to increase ecommerce sales in global markets, there are nuances to consider. While the ecommerce market is truly booming, at the heart of this boom is a paradox: consumers are buying online more than ever, yet nearly 50 percent say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more local.
What this tells us is that businesses pursuing global ecommerce sales need to offer their customers both a streamlined digital purchasing journey and a locally relevant shopping experience.
So, here are 10 ways you can increase your global ecommerce sales right now and start growing your business in new markets:
1. Study your local audiences
Navigating international markets can be very exciting, but it can also be risky. Things taken for granted in your home country might be disastrous in a culture or market you aren’t familiar with.
Having the answers to basic questions about a new market can save you time, money, and make all the difference for your company as it expands. For example, you need to ask yourself questions like:
- Who are the people in this region that already need or desire your products?
- How does your brand stack up with what is locally available?
- What technologies and platforms are people in this place able and willing to use when they shop online?
- Which pricing strategy should you adopt?
- What type of user support is expected?
Conduct thorough market research before taking any other action, and you’re already halfway there for increasing ecommerce sales.
2. Localize your website
To truly localize your store front and assets, you have to go beyond simple translation. When HSBC bank launched overseas, its English slogan “Assume Nothing,” became “Do Nothing” in many countries. The bank was forced to spend $10 million scrapping the campaign, and eventually relaunched with a totally new slogan: “The World’s Private Bank.”
Localizing means implementing those changes that will provide customers with shopping interactions that make sense for them in their cultural context, indistinguishable from a local shopping visit.
Everything from date and time formatting to holidays, idioms, and even the photos and imagery you present can make or break your bid to reach new, global customers.
Ultimately, you need to conduct a full evaluation of your website’s content, elements, and language use in terms of the cultural norms and expectations of your global customers.
Electrolux, a Swedish appliance manufacturer, quickly found this out when attempting to market a vacuum in the US with the slogan, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” While the mistake was small in terms of language, it was absolutely huge in terms of business. The lesson? Always check the cultural context — preferably with a native speaker — before launching.
3. Optimize your SEO strategy for global audiences
Search engine traffic can generate around a third of an ecommerce website’s revenue — but not all search engines are created equal.
Each one runs on its own algorithm and different search engines dominate in different localities. Your central job in optimizing your SEO strategy is to research, understand, and tailor your website to the demands of the particular search engines that matter most to your customers.
Start with an SEO audit first. Then, re-optimize your ecommerce site regularly to maintain its relevance within the ever-changing algorithms.
4. Optimize your paid ads strategy
One of the biggest mistakes companies make with ads is to believe that you’ll find success by advertising to a huge demographic all at once (e.g. “all women over age 30”). If you pour money into casting a wide net — rather than targeting customers who really want your product — you might get increased traffic, but low conversion rates will drain your ad budget quickly.
Approach paid ads strategically and create measurable goals. Then create customer profiles, select your key channels, build your funnel, and continue to optimize.
5. Localize your cart
We already mentioned localizing your website, but it pays to give extra attention to the actual checkout process. Shopping online in China remains very different from shopping online in New York, and cart localization is one way to work with, rather than against this reality.
Here are a few essential considerations for cart localization:
A) Content and design elements
Localizing the content of your cart is, again, about far more than just translating words. You’ll need to consider formatting issues, which can affect dates, times, prices, and punctuation marks. Be aware of the cultural appropriateness of visual language, like graphics and colors, too. And, ensure that taxes or contact information for customer support are properly localized.
B) Offer multiple payment options, including local methods
Shoppers are 70 percent more likely to finalize a purchase if their preferred payment method is displayed as an option. So, offering the right payment options can really increase your sales. Be sure to understand the preferences of customers in different regions. Are you dealing with a population that has a high banking penetration rate, like the Western world, or one with few traditional banking services, like emerging markets?
C) Layout and flow based on country preferences
Any friction in the checkout process can cause customers to jump ship. Yet, you need testing to understand what each audience expects. For example, what feels like frustrating friction to shoppers in North America might feel like a welcome chance to review a purchase to shoppers in Europe. The key is to investigate the preferences of the customers in your top regions and apply modifications when appropriate.
6. Localize pricing
A simple way to increase conversion rates is to create prices that change automatically based on IP addresses. About half of all online shoppers say that they will abandon their cart without paying when the price is listed in a foreign currency.
So, properly localized prices will appear in the local currency. Also, be sure to include local taxes and fees so that there are no surprises later, since 49 percent of buyers will abandon a cart if the extra costs are too high.
In some cases, you may need to alter pricing design elements. For example, in the US prices listed in the color red are often associated with discounts, whereas in France regular prices are frequently in red.
But, pricing localization can also go beyond presentation, and may involve actually changing prices in order to better position a product in a specific local market, or to take into account fluctuating exchange rates.
Use an API to pull the local in-country price from your product catalog, to stop relying on the daily foreign exchange currency rate.
7. Localize support
As anyone who has ever been on the line with customer support knows how much the treatment you receive can influence your perception of a company. Difficulty communicating, feeling misunderstood or, even worse, feeling that you were disrespected can destroy your trust in a brand.
As an ecommerce business, you have an opportunity to gain loyalty and positive reviews by providing local support options. You can do this via hiring local support agents, and with the help of technology. For example, some customer support platforms provide live chat tools with automatic translation options.
8. Pay attention to global reviews
Positive reviews are good for sales in and of themselves — 72 percent of shoppers say that they will only take action if they have read at least one positive review. But, reviews are also a source of valuable information.
You may not yet have perfect knowledge of the most relevant keywords in a new market, for example, but satisfied customers from that region do — and they’ve already laid them out for you right there in their reviews.
Just make sure that reviews are in the right places and that the global customers you’re targeting can trust them. Also, actively ask your repeat customers for reviews.
9. Develop a global affiliate marketing strategy
Affiliate marketing generates 16 percent of all ecommerce sales in the US and Canada and is growing by 10 percent per year globally, too. So, this is a powerful force you can’t afford to ignore. Specialist affiliate networks exist for almost every industry, and reach a large variety of target locations globally, making your job of linking up with appropriate affiliates even easier.
Ecommerce businesses are particularly well-suited to affiliate marketing since it allows them to build awareness and sales in hyper-relevant audiences.
Joining an established eCommerce affiliate platform will give you immediate access to affiliates and make the process as hands-off as possible. Start by making sure the affiliate’s target audience aligns with your target clients. They should have an active interest in your industry and the types of products or services you’re selling.
10. Stay compliant with local laws and regulations
Taxes are just one source of local regulations that an ecommerce business must keep up with. Others include:
- Laws designed to protect consumers’ private data online.
- Laws regarding the use of online payments.
- Regulations for identity verification.
- Rules intended to prevent money laundering.
For example, PSD2 regulations have been introduced to guarantee the security of online card payments made in the EU. When it comes to taxes, each country has its own VAT rate, as well as special rates for certain categories of products. Often, these exemptions or lower rates deal specifically with digital goods, so it’s best to get familiar with these.
It can be a lot to keep track of, but failing in doing so is also potentially costly. So, it’s essential to build financial compliance into your business.
On to global markets
This $26.7 trillion sector shows no sign of slowing down, and businesses that position themselves strategically stand to see dramatic rises in sales. Whether your business is just joining the global ecommerce market, or already operating there and looking to boost sales, you still need to make sure you evaluate and rethink your strategies regularly.
Pay attention to local details and local markets, find the right ecommerce partners, and build local trust. These are the keys to creating a fantastic customer experience that will in turn boost sales and revenue.