Going global: How can businesses take ecommerce across borders

American Eagle is the latest US retail giant to launch an ecommerce presence in the UK.

Making the decision to take these steps across the pond makes complete business sense for US retailers as the UK is ahead of the US for online purchases, with the average Brit expected to spend £1,174 this year online compared to £1,120 in the US.

Despite the shared love of shopping online, there are distinct differences between US, UK and even European consumers.  

Due to cultural and geographical variances, research has found that 35 per cent of online shoppers in the UK buy online and collect from store, compared with just 13 per cent in the US. To ensure there is a linked-up, globalised approach to conversion goals – not just from US to UK – the changes in user experience and customer journey needs to be considered.

Building trust in the brand

To be a successful foreign online retailer, gaining the trust of new customers is crucial in driving brand awareness and keeping customers coming back for more to build brand retention and loyalty. 

Particularly for fashion and clothing brands, having a physical presence in major urban locations gives customers the opportunity to touch and try products to build confidence in an unfamiliar brand. The problem is not all US retailers can afford to roll out physical stores overseas before knowing if they will be successful. It therefore falls upon ecommerce to be on-point and match the range of online retail services that the UK has to offer.

However, there are many pitfalls American retailers can face when launching localised ecommerce websites abroad, from technical considerations to cultural differences. Often retailers are quick to invest time and money in the website design, look and SEO of the website that they tend to lose sight of the end customer. The UX, design, language and photography could be outstanding, but if the online journey does not address the needs of the shopper how can brands expect the launch to be a success?

Simplifying the customer experience

Coming over from the US, building positive relationships with new customers on foreign shores can be challenging. 

If shoppers are unable to find the information they need when they need it, retailers tend to find that the user journey is interrupted, inevitably leading to basket abandonment. While pieces of information, such as a local customer helpline number or the location of a physical retail outlet, might seem small in the grand scheme of things it could be the key to keeping the customer on-site; instilling confidence in the customer to return.

Today, shoppers want more on-demand and convenient services. If we consider how quickly customer queries are resolved in-store by retail staff, this customer experience needs be translated online. 

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