Going global: How can businesses take ecommerce across borders

Purchasing an item of clothing online should be as easy and practical as if you were buying from your local store. However, trying to locate the answer to a simple garment sizing question can be complex, requiring the shopper to search though small print, find the separate FAQ section and drill through static questions to find out the answer is nowhere to be found.

By this point, the window of opportunity is narrowed. Considering the high number of returns retailers receive due to sizing difficulties, it is particularly important that foreign retailers ensure new customers can easily locate information at the point-of-purchase. What is more, fitting guides need to be adapted for localised ecommerce to suit the cultural needs of the new consumer market.

To remove any fears from the transaction process, retailers should also be transparent with their returns policies, clearly explaining what customers can do if something goes wrong.

With the UK setting the bar high for customer service with advanced and convenient delivery, returns and click and collect services, American retailers need to ensure UK retail standards are met in order to appeal to the typical British shopper. This is especially important now, following the UKs enforcement of new consumer protection measure measures, including longer refund rights, under the Consumer Rights Act.

Localising the website design

Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw, once said: England and America are two countries divided by a common language.

Underestimating the cultural differences between the two locations can be hugely problematic. With Brits known to be more cynical as buyers it is important that US retailers consider the type of language, tone of voice and style deployed on the localised website to attract a British audience.

For example, while American websites tend to use dark colour palettes, UK websites usually adopt clean colours and fonts as its audience are attracted to a little more brightness.

Ultimately, for retailers moving to new shores, trust and convenience are the two key areas that should be kept front of mind in localising ecommerce. The site needs to feel local and personal to appeal to new customers.

Its about taking the time to identify and understand the economy of the shopper to ensure your ecommerce offering meets the demands of the UK customer.

Mark Kirby is CEO of CartAssist.

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