Localizing e-commerce features to improve conversion rates
Your brand is a hit in your home country and your website is starting to draw sales from across the pond, proving there is an interest in your product range. You add on shipping costs for your new market and display the price of your products with the local currency text identifier (USD/GBP). Traffic is increasing off the back of the SEO you’ve implemented and you’ve launched a PPC campaign, but conversion rates remain stubbornly low.
Here are 10 basic steps, and one golden rule, to optimize the conversion rates of your new territory traffic.
1. Use Currency symbols and local payment methods. Natives will feel much more at home with $, £ or € than USD, GBP or EUR and will instinctively have more trust in your site. Using all the major payment types in a country, for example iDEAL in the Netherlands, will have a big impact on your conversion rates.
2. Remove links to products and services not available to your overseas customers such as signing-up for a credit card. It looks unprofessional and will increase the number of customers abandoning your site.
3. Inventory that is against the law to sell to other countries shouldn’t be visible. If I can’t see it then I won’t be disappointed that I can’t buy it and I won’t head off elsewhere. This includes products such as ammunition.
4. Data-capture forms should always cater for the nuances of each market. A telephone field designed for the US 555-123-9876 will appear odd to a UK customer who needs an extra digit 020-7231-1122. Date-Month-Year or Month-Date-Year? Less frustration=More sales.
5. Buying a shoe in a UK 10 won’t fit that US 10 foot – display the sizes your customer understands, or at least provide a clearly visible convertor.
6. Localise/ize your language! ZIP/Postcode Catalog/Catalogue, Check/Cheque, color/colour. Drop your copy into MS Word and set to US/UK English and watch the wavy red lines appear. Better still, get a couple of natives to read through it for you, or hire the services of a professional. Speaking in their own dialect will make your customer feel at home.
7. It’s not Customer Service when you have to dial an expensive international phone number to receive it. Either pay for a local number that redirects to your call centre or offer an alternative method of contacting you that doesn’t cost the customer the earth.
8. Tax. In the US a customer will expect it to be added at the checkout. In the UK your buyer will expect it to have been included in the price displayed (unless you are primarily b2b but that’s another post entirely…)
9. Change your terms and conditions to reflect the market you are selling in and be aware of the differences in laws. In Europe, there are national laws as well as the all encompassing EU Directives, and in the US there are State and Federal regulations governing transactions.
10. If shipping isn’t free to your new territory, make sure the banners and buttons shouting it on your homepage are removed and highlight clearly in advance what the fees are. Springing the additional charge at checkout is a sure-fire way to see customers abandon their basket.
GOLDEN RULE – If you cannot have local distribution, at least have a local returns address. Your customers may be willing to pay to ship those ‘bang-on trend, gorgeous must have heels’ in this season’s hottest hue, but they will not want to have to pay an international carriage to send them back if they are damaged or don’t quite fit their feet!
Finally, once all the improvements have been implemented, analyze your pre and post-change traffic. You should notice a much healthier conversion rate and be on your way to becoming a hit in your new territory.
Brand Sales Manager