Thursday 20 February, 2014

International Ecommerce – How to Adapt Your Web Store to the Global Marketplace

It’s predicted that over 2 billion of the world’s population will be online by the end of 2014. The majority of these users aren’t going to be in your neighborhood, but more likely in the furthest flung corners of the world. Over half of them are predicted to be in Asia alone. This is why it’s important for ecommerce stores to think in terms of global strategy.

Speaking to the Market

The first step to globalizing your ecommerce store is to invest in foreign language translation. If you want to attract non-English speakers, this is the only way to do it. This is especially true of an ecommerce site, where people are entering sensitive data and putting themselves at risk. While an intermediate English speaker may be able to navigate your site, they probably won’t be able to read the small print. Translating into their language offers peace of mind.

The most spoken languages in the world today beside English include Chinese, Hindi, Arabic and Spanish. Decide what growing markets are your most important, determine which languages you need, and hire the right help. Also, make sure your content management system supports other scripts and your customer service reps can speak the language.

Cultural Differences

Learn not only the language but as much as possible about the culture in your target countries. The buying behavior of Japanese or Indonesians varies differently from those of Americans or Australians. Learn especially how the culture views shopping, customer service, money and privacy. Carry out some research to help you understand what cultural barriers other businesses have faced, and put together a plan for dealing with them.

Make It Local

Of course, your site can’t be local. But make it at least feel local. Take a look at how Amazon, eBay and other major retailers adapt their website to give it a local feel, even if customers are on the other side of the world. One way to do this is by getting a domain name with the country suffix. It’s a simple step that goes a long way.

Local Laws

In addition to culture, you also need to know local laws. Find out everything you can about imports and buying, as well as advertising. For example, many European countries have stricter regulations than the US about what you can say in advertising. If you don’t adapt to the local laws, you risk getting shut down and losing the entire market.

Pictures Speak Louder than Words

One way to cut costs on translating and still communicate is to speak the universal language of images. It’s true that a picture speaks a thousand words and it’s the images of your products rather than text description that will get you sales anyway.

Reach Your Market on Social Media

Use whatever social media sites your market likes to reach them. This includes local networks in addition to big worldwide sites like Facebook and Twitter. This is another growing trend in developing markets and you can use it to increase brand awareness and make your customers feel like you’re really not so far away.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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