“England and America are two countries separated by the same language”
More than simply, ‘you say tomayto, I say tomahto’, an understanding of differing associations and cultural nuances will have a major impact on conversions to anyone operating in multiple international markets.
The rapid growth of global eCommerce opened the door for many companies to expand into other international markets. In fact, it’s predicted cross-border exports will increase seven fold in the next five years.
But while this represents massive potential, simply replicating your UK website for foreign markets is unlikely, without certain allowances, which need to be taken into account.
But time and again, a company’s approach has been to merely roll out a successful domestic strategy from market to market, throwing a speed bump in the way of their conversions chances.
Here we take a look at 5 key considerations for when you decide to take over the world.
Tip 1. Supporting domestic currencies
We’ve all visited an eCommerce site, popped something in the cart and then been served the price in dollars or pounds, or maybe even bitcoin.
What’s the latest exchange rate? Is this a good deal? Will there be currency conversion charges? – All questions that are a surefire way to becoming another abandoned cart.
What’s crucial when it comes to operating in foreign territories is putting customers at ease throughout the process, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by displaying prices in the domestic currency.
This isn’t as simple as exchanging the currency at the current rates however, as local expectations should also be taken into account. For example, using the ‘.99’ prefix is something the American market has become accustomed to, whereas ‘.95’ is more at home in Ireland.
Another consideration is being au fait with local payment methods. For instance, in the Netherlands a massive portion of online transactions are paid by bank transfer.
Tip 2. Colouring the argument
Orange is the new black, red and green should never be seen. We all have a favourite colour, and reasons for it. What evokes one reaction in one person, could evoke an entirely different reaction in someone else.
If colour was just about grabbing attention, then florescent and garish tones would be the standard.
Understanding the different cultural associations of one hue or another is essential. For example, the colour red is associated with danger and excitement in the UK and largely avoided in domestic eCommerce for these reasons. However in Asia, red symbolises vitality, power and luck.
These similitudes have been part of differing societies for centuries and should always be considered when choosing the colour of your site.
Tip 3. Page design
According to a study from the Nielson Norman Group, people tend to read in an F pattern - vertically scanning the left side of the page, followed by the top two lines.
This study has been largely absorbed by eCommerce professionals, with key information often crammed into the upper left hand side for maximum effect.
This approach is Western centric mind. Arabic countries read from right to left. In Japan, China and Korea text is laid out vertically. This pattern will need to change considering the insurmountable pace at which the south-east Asian eCommerce markets are growing.
How will all of this affect your site? Where should your key messages and CTA be placed? All of this needs testing.
Tip 4. Skeuomorphism…Say what now?
Look at the top left hand side of you desktop screen. Nestled in the corner is that little waste paper basket. Sometimes it’s empty, other times it’s laden with crumpled up reams of A4.
Your desktop trash bin resembles…a trash bin. This is skeuomorphism in practice. It’s the 3D icons where things represent what they are.
However, this concept has been jettisoned in recent months by Apple and other tech firms. Viewed as rather antiquated – like watching an 80’s music video, they believe it was of its time. In place is a simpler concept – flat design.
For eCommerce, Western markets appear to have ‘rolled with the punches’, au fait with a button marked ‘click to pay’, but this isn’t true of all markets. In China particularly, a shiny currency symbol is still the preferred CTA, so have your page designed accordingly.
Tip 5. It’s only words
Your product copy can be expertly translated and tweaked territory by territory, but understanding colloquial language and being savvy to ‘internet speak’ is also key.
Even with the best intentions, getting your copy right for SEO purposes is a potential banana skin, waiting for you to slip like Jennifer Lawrence collecting her Oscar.
eCommerce has evolved a language called ‘Webanese’, with many shoppers from non-English speaking countries often using the English phrases to search for the best deal.
For example in Italy, the term ‘low cost’ is searched more than ‘economici’ (Italian for ‘cheap’).
Accommodating for how different international customers find and use your products by comprehensively indexing your pages will positively affect your conversion rates.
To properly take the advantages that global eCommerce offers, a tailored, localised approach is vital. You’ve been let into the party, but you’ll be stuck in the kitchen on your own if you don’t speak the lingo.
About the author
Danny O'Reilly is a copywriter at Ve Interactive. Ve Interactive is a SEOshop partner that offers remarketing solutions to SEOshop merchants. The Ve Interactive apps available in the SEOshop App Store are VeChat, which enables merchants to re-engage with customers who are at the point of abandoning website and VeContact which helps merchants recover abandoned carts via intelligent e-mail re-engagement.