Making the decision to expand your e-commerce business internationally is both exciting and daunting. However, before you take the leap, it’s a smart idea to have a complete grasp of what you will encounter after you make the move, especially when it comes to accepting payments from international customers. After all, knowledge is power, and power can translate into profits.
Planning Is Key
Remember when you were starting your enterprise years ago? Back then, making meticulous plans and conducting research were the methods you used to determine what, where and how much you were going to sell and to whom. Now that you are expanding, you can expect to conduct a similar process. After all, you need to know who your customers will be, what they want to buy and how they prefer to shop.
Fortunately, agencies like the U.S. Small Business Administration and Export.gov offer extremely useful templates and tools that can help you to gauge your markets and develop pricing strategies. Furthermore, PayPal’s Passport site is loaded with information about specific countries and their particular global buying trends.
Payment Methods Are Not the Same as in the U.S.
Whether a customer is right around the corner or across the globe from you, one fact holds true: They want to pay using their preferred method and will often abandon their shopping cart if it is not available to them. They also feel more comfortable using their own currency. Fortunately, many global payment providers allow you to list several currencies or, at the very least, offer a conversion tool that lets the customer know exactly how much they will be paying.
As an entrepreneur, you need to know which countries you will be marketing to as well as the particular payment preferences of their residents. For instance, 60 percent of Dutch buyers use direct debit while Germans make 46 percent of their payments via online bank transfer. The more you can cater to these preferences, the lower your shopping cart abandonment rate will be.
Your Website May Need to Change
Up until now, you may have been doing fine with a no-frills website and your mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) equipment to handle local and national payment transactions. However, now that you are expanding your horizons, you need to attract your international customers. You can start by taking advantage of established marketplaces such as eBay, but sooner or later, you will probably need to make modifications to your website.
Don’t panic; the changes don’t need to be radical. In the beginning, all you really need to do is to advertise to your visitors that purchases from international buyers are welcome. In time, you might also want to add a currency converter and a language toggle to make the shopping and purchasing processes as seamless as possible. If your efforts are fruitful, you might eventually want to construct a specific website for a certain niche of your overseas customers with its own local domain.
Selling to customers from abroad can transform the very nature and scope of your business. It will expose you to new cultures, challenges and opportunities. When you know what to expect and carefully plan ahead, many of the obstacles can be significantly reduced, leaving you time to learn and grow with your expanding enterprise.