Through all the trends, evolutions, and reinventions of the internet and ecommerce, it’s easy to lose sight of what made the online world such a powerful business tool: access, connection, and reach. If you have an ecommerce site, every online shopper on the planet can walk into your store.
Consider the size and impact of your potential market:
- There were 2.05 billion online shoppers in the world in 2020, but only about 12% (256 million) lived in the United States.
- Selling outside the United States isn’t just for big brands. Of the nearly 300,000 U.S. companies that export goods, 97% are small or medium-sized businesses.
Broaden your brand
Selling globally can help increase sales, and it’s a smart move when preparing your business for future growth. For example:
- International sales can help to even out seasonal business cycles.
- Businesses that sell outside the United States are on average 17% more profitable than those that don’t sell outside the United States.
- International sales can help your growing business fill the void if your business has excess service, manufacturing, or wholesaling capacity.
Start planning your international expansion
If your international ecommerce to-do list seems never-ending, remember that you don’t have to go all-in right away. Study your website data to understand which countries visitors are in, and begin adding localized web content and experiences that will engage them. To start, choose just one or two markets or regions and learn as you go. You’ll soon discover which products and services are most in demand and where. And you’ll gain valuable market intelligence you can use as you add more countries to your international expansion list.
The front end: building your shopper experience
Your online storefront is often the first place where international shoppers experience your brand, products, and services. Welcome shoppers from many countries with localization elements to provide the best possible experience.
Communicating in your shoppers’ own languages will help them feel welcome and empower them with better information about your products and services. MultilingualPress, a plugin that translates your WooCommerce shop into different languages, is available in the WooCommerce Extension Store. Also available in the store is Webis Multilingual for WooCommerce, which translates product information without creating erroneous product listings and sync issues.
Translating your website language is just the start of making customers feel at home and winning their confidence. Marketing and content that resonates with local culture can make a big difference when you’re expanding internationally. For example, you can launch market-specific promotions that play on local pop culture or tie in with national holidays and events.
Currency options further help localize your online storefront. This “language” is vital to closing sales, because customers often want to pay in their local currencies, instead of guessing at conversion rates. WooCommerce Payments has multicurrency features built in.
In addition, the WooCommerce Currency Converter Widget lets you display values in any and all of the currency codes you specify, and you can even allow users to choose the currency displayed as they browse your site.
Sites with interactive content such as videos and gift finders, as well as advanced API integrations, perform well in regions with high-speed online access, but might not look as good or run as seamlessly in regions without this level of connectivity. According to a survey from Digital, half of online shoppers will abandon their shopping carts if pages don’t load fast enough.
A content delivery network (CDN) can host your content at locations worldwide, and will cut down on latency that might prevent consistent website performance.
The back end: supporting your international business
Going international isn’t only about what customers can see on your website. You have to make it easy for shoppers to pay for and receive products.
WooCommerce Payments can help you sell in 36 countries, accept 135 currencies, and enable local payment methods. Here are a few things to consider when choosing and setting up a payment gateway for global ecommerce success:
- Build trust. Some customers may be wary of purchasing from foreign vendors, and the extra-cautious ones may put your payment experience under a microscope. Offering digital wallets like PayPal and Apple Pay can help to build trust.
- Integrate or redirect? Certain payment gateways are well known, even preferred, in foreign markets, while others aren’t as familiar. In some countries, a redirect to an external site for payment is viewed as insecure and is trusted less. On the other hand, in some countries an external site may be trusted more. Research which payment gateways are known to – and popular with – your international markets.
- Compliance and security. If you integrate your payment gateway and intake customer payment information, you must ensure the stored data is safe and secure. This PCI Security Standards Council web page is a good place to start your research.
It’s important that your tax setup is reliable and always up to date. An easy way to ensure compliance is with a tool such as WooCommerce Tax. It completely automates processes and calculates the exact tax amount to charge customers based on city, country, or state. Learn more about ecommerce accounting basics.
Modern ecommerce companies have made fast and secure delivery a baseline expectation – and you have to keep pace. Alleviate any customer concerns by offering options for international delivery, and be transparent about costs, tracking, and support for issue resolution. WooCommerce has partnerships with international shippers DHL and USPS.
Your checklist for international success
- Analyze website visitor and customer data to determine which international markets offer the greatest potential for your business.
- Choose a plugin application to translate your site into the languages of your potential markets.
- Enable multi-currency features on your website.
- Choose a payment gateway that’s trusted and well-known across all of your international markets.
- Automate tax collection for different countries so you’re charging customers the correct tax.
- Maintain transparency about costs, delivery options, package tracking, and support for international shipping.
Looking for solutions to specific international ecommerce challenges? Visit the WooCommerce Extensions Store for hundreds of free and paid WooCommerce extensions across all your logistical, technical, and marketing needs.