Don't forget these things when you dive into international e-commerce

Article by Sana Commerce

The idea of venturing out into the great wide world with your business is an exciting one. New countries, new cultures, new clients and hopefully more sales are in your future. Internationalization can be incredibly rewarding, but taking the global plunge can also be intimidating.

There’s a lot to consider and arrange when you take your business abroad: language, shipping, couriers, taxes, customer service representatives, local trade laws… where do you begin?

First, take a deep breath and relax. While there’s no surefire way to eliminate all of the risks that come with internationalization, there are certainly a number of things you can do to prepare and minimize risk as much as possible.

Let’s have a look at five of the most essential points that will get you off on the right track to international business success.

1. Don’t Skimp On Translations

55% of consumers prefer shopping online in their own language, and 53% are more at ease buying in their native language. Shopping in their native language isn’t just easier, a fully localized web store simply feels more trustworthy. Seeing their own currency, language, and local couriers will make potential clients much more willing to make a purchase.

In fact, 56.2% of consumers say that having information available in their native language is more important than the price. In other words, if your clients are willing to pay more for localized content, you should be too.

If you want to do it right, it’s essential that your content and documentation are translated. Be advised: cheaper isn’t better. Get a native translator who knows the local culture. Do you have a large product assortment and an active marketing department? Consider hiring some in-house translators or localization specialists.

Poor translations are often worse than no translations, as they come across as unprofessional and sloppy. Invest the time and money and you will be rewarded with trusting clients who are much more willing to make purchases.

2. Localize Your Marketing and Branding

Don’t assume that you can simply translate your slogan and carry over your holiday deals and discounts to another culture.

Where formal branding works in one country, informal branding will work better in another. Clever marketing one-liners often don’t translate. Holiday sales will be different, peak selling times will be different, and clients will have different expectations when it comes to communication and service. Even colors have different connotations in different cultures.

If you decide to bring on a native localization expert, they can help you solve these issues. If you know early on that you plan to go international, it’s best to keep that in mind when you’re developing your brand. Come up with something that works across cultures (as much as possible). Keep it simple. Keep it accessible.

3. Let Your ERP Do the Heavy Lifting

Don’t underestimate the power of a good ERP. Your ERP should be able to take care of a lot of the localization details for you. Some of the ways it can do this is by offering different language settings and support for local rules, regulations and taxation. This is your starting point, so make sure you have a strong foundation. Talk to your ERP provider and have them outline all of their internationalization features for you.

Again, if you know early on that you have international ambitions, be sure to choose an ERP that will support your company’s globalization.

Don't underestimate the power of a good ERP

4. Choose the Right Web Store Platform for Internationalization

An integrated web store platform functions from within your ERP, and therefore will allow you to easily use all of the localization features you already have in your ERP directly in your web store.

If you indicate in your ERP that a client is from Spain, for instance, then an integrated web store will automatically display the Spanish web store when the client logs in. You also want to be sure to choose a web store option that supplies language packs for your web store interface. 

5. Don’t Let the Simple Things Become Big Headaches

A good web store platform should take care of a lot of the simple details for you. Some examples would be time zone personalization and localized settings such as the first day of the week. (Does the week begin on Sunday or Monday in a particular country? Don’t waste time figuring it out!) Having a web store that displays the correct currency and language based on the user’s IP address is a must.


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