Catering to a Global market is one of the top ambitions of a retailer. With the supersonic boom in eCommerce and online shopping statistics, international expansion is no longer a fever dream. It’s a very real, very lucrative goal to be achieved.
Since your storefront is the first thing your international audience is going to interact with, it makes sense to calibrate it to create friendly, familiar, and meaningful shopping experiences for your customers overseas. While Magento Enterprise has inbuilt functionalities to help achieve this end, actually making your website global-ready takes more than technical tinkering. You’ll also need to:
Multilingual and multinational stores need to be built with special focus on two key things: local language and culture.
This is the first roadblock to establishing trust. Skip over automated translations: everybody can intuitively feel the difference between something written by a person and anything generated by a machine.
Say no to automated translations for product content at all costs, but you can consider them for generic elements of the website (“Home”, “Skip”, “Go”, etc.). For the sake of localization: The rest of your content (email and other advertising/ marketing campaigns, social media, blogs, etc.) also needs to be localized to garner a sense of familiarity.
There are legal considerations to international expansion. For every country you expand to, you need to register for tax, find out VAT thresholds, compensations, duties, market regulations, and more. Research these thoroughly beforehand to avoid any complications and nasty surprises later.
While popular, MasterCard and PayPal aren’t used or even trusted by everyone everywhere. Like culture, preferred modes of payment differ from nation to nation.
Use audience research to find out the modes of payment that are not only acceptable, but trusted. For example, Japanese and Indian buyers like to pay cash on delivery. African customers typically prefer to settle transactions with mobile credits. French customers use Carte Bancaire.
Seamless technical integration with alternative payment modes is a must, but so is perception. Make sure your various customers know that you will accept payments in their ways by showing the logos in the checkout process.
Word of advice: Don’t overwhelm one region’s audience with payment methods that they have no use for. Distraction is your enemy. Only show universal (PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Cash on Delivery etc.) and categorize region specific options by country. And it should be no-brainer to show prices in different currencies during payment too.
Starry eyed retailers will be brought back to earth by this.
Customers are often disgusted when suddenly presented with sky-high shipping costs, so make sure you make them clear from the get-go. As a retailer, you need to consider delivery times for specified regions and commercial viability before choosing a shipping company.
Research local courier agencies thoroughly before signing that contract: huge conglomerates have been burned more than once because the couriers delivered broken/faulty goods or failed to show up at all.
If your resources can take the strain, you can also employ a fulfillment service.
Returned goods can be a three-way problem for you: Logistic, financial, and legal.
A return policy is a must, so there’s contesting whether or not you should have one. Take into consideration distance selling regulations for every market you want to expand into.
It should also be noted that your return policy should be easy to find and contain detailed information about international returns. This establishes reliability of your store in customers’ minds.
While digital Help Desks solve a huge chunk of the problem, you will still need people capable of responding to customer queries in their regional language. This can be done by creating a team of native language speakers in the head office or outsourced operations.
Going global isn’t all fun and games. It requires a solid commercial and technical infrastructure to create a functional and authentic online store capable of operations in every market you are targeting.