More and more, companies are realising the potential of reaching their customers directly online. Even companies selling services can use their website as a lead generation tool, and companies selling products can make healthy international sales through a well-designed e-commerce website.
This section on reaching customers online through your website will give you some tips on the steps to follow to get you started:
Choose your platform carefully
Most SME’s take the e-commerce route and the market is full of companies vying for your attention, promising to build you the best e-commerce system yet. Before you take the plunge, stand back and produce a specification of your requirements and evaluate what’s out there. Be sure to pick a platform that will be able to support you as you expand internationally, supporting language pages, multiple currencies, different payment systems, delivery options and sales tax rates. Make sure that it will integrate with any stock, finance or customer relationship management systems you already have in place or plan to add.
Localise and translate your content
To appeal to local customers and to be found in local search engines you will need to have local language content dedicated to each country you are planning to sell into. Furthermore, you will need to customise your website pages to local cultures and local tastes, including the messages, the copywriting and the images. International customers are more likely to buy from you if you do this.
Select local payment methods
We are very advanced and indeed trusting of e-commerce in the UK – one of the world’s leading e-commerce nations. We’ll quite happily part with quite a lot of cash on our credit cards and know that our goods will (normally) arrive. Many cultures are very distrustful of credit cards and usage is much lower. Therefore it is good to cater for customers paying by direct transfer or local payment systems. While PayPal is truly global and accepts most currencies, don’t forget to think about other specialist payment systems, such as Alipay in China.
Do your research
Bring everything in the whole marketing, selling and logistics process into question when you are going international. Don’t assume everything will be the same – in fact, don’t assume anything will be the same. Look into distance selling regulations, delivery methods, exchange rates, local legal requirements and customs documents, to name just a few areas that will need your attention.
Despite the amount of research and work that you can put into building an international e-commerce strategy, the benefit at the end of the day is tremendous and can be more or less instantaneous.