International eCommerce offers astonishing opportunities for expansion and growth for companies that are willing to create websites and marketing strategies in multiple languages.
China's online shoppers buy an average of 8.4 products per month per person, and Chinese consumers consider themselves experts on eCommerce. You can't expect to reach the Chinese market or other rapidly growing consumer markets without implementing a multilingual website, storefront, marketplace or marketing effort. Regardless of which platform you choose, no eCommerce software will fit perfectly because you'll need additional features that you don't anticipate as your business grows and as you learn the things that convert better in the Chinese markets. That's why your primary considerations for multilingual sales and marketing involve adaptability and expansion. You can't predict everything that you'll need for global marketing, but that doesn't mean you can't choose the best eCommerce platform available. Find a platform, like Clarity eCommerce & Connect, that evolves and adapts and integrates seamlessly with your ERP and CMS software. You can start selling to more than 200 million people who speak Mandarin Chinese and the billions who speak other languages throughout the world.
Choosing a Responsive eCommerce Platform
You can increase your international sales exponentially by adopting the right eCommerce platform for multilingual management. Content management is often taken for granted, but your marketing and management tools are among the most important criteria for growth, expansion and building customer loyalty. The business intelligence company, RJMetrics, reports that small companies with less than $1 million in annual sales are growing by 140 percent each year, but the rate drops to 25 percent for sales between $1 million and $5 million and to 10 percent for companies that gross more than $10 million annually. This just means that smaller companies, looking for a shot in the arm, should consider expanding into international waters. The report further identifies the factors that are fueling international eCommerce growth, which include smartphone and tablet ordering, increasingly tech-savvy consumers and more efficient and available international shipping services. Tapping the global market requires the right international eCommerce platform to satisfy customers and fuel growth, and companies that are facing slower growth rates can fuel expansion by marketing to consumers in their own languages and simplifying the ordering process. The following 10 considerations are important when choosing an eCommerce platform for multilingual sales and marketing efforts.
1. Adaptability and Seamless Integrations
Your multilingual marketing efforts depend on your eCommerce software integrating seamlessly with your existing CMS and ERP systems. You need your website, Web pages and internal processes to work with your eCommerce platform, or you can choose a platform that works without CMS or ERP software. A robust platform can integrate seamlessly or work independently to expand your global marketing by handling complex tasks like generating automatic translations of content and catalogs, handling issues like international shipping, calculating taxes, customs and duties, accepting multiple currencies and optimizing SEO efforts for ranking in foreign-language searches. The best eCommerce software can be customized to your needs regardless of whether you have existing enterprise software, a content management system or proprietary, independent methods for managing your website and marketing.
International eCommerce is easy for engaging customers who speak English, but your business efforts won't get maximum exposure without an automatic translation program that can convert your website and marketing content into multiple languages, which is where a multilingual integrate online store comes into play. You also want your website to detect the user’s language automatically and convert every page that a customer links to when browsing on the site. A vigorous platform not only translates content but also changes options, descriptions, metrics and prices to conform to local customs and currency. Other valuable features include allowing customers to toggle between languages on every page, shifting navigation bars for right-to-left languages and optimizing site architecture and HTML for preferred search engines, which might entail keeping instructions in English, translating them to the content language or even using a third-party language.
3. Browser Detection and Optimization
Responsive design has been one of Google's top concerns for several years, and the influential search engine now plans to use responsiveness as a ranking factor in searches. Your global marketing efforts will never reach their maximum potential unless your Web pages and applications adjust to display effectively on small devices like smartphones. Whether you look at is as a penalization or bonus, if your site isn't optimized for mobile, and your competitors' sites are, you'll be penalized in your rankings compared to them. Don't give business away for free, due to a technical limitation of your site. Your eCommerce solution needs to determine what kind of device and browser are being used by prospective customers and adjust accordingly. Your website can facilitate communications and sales conversions by detecting the preferred language, device and browser of your customers and optimizing the display to engage them. Your software will be an enormous asset if you can detect what device a customer is using -- iPad, smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer -- and adjust the website or send the customer to a landing page that's optimized for the device and language.
4. Cross-Selling and Upselling Opportunities
Customer service is the key to upselling extra services like tech support, extended warranties and accessories. These additions can be extremely lucrative for eCommerce websites because each increase in gross sales doesn't involve any additional advertising or marketing expenses. Your software is critical for ensuring a good user experience and providing timely staff assistance at certain points of the sales process. The best eCommerce software offers customers the options of purchasing protection plans and complementary products and accessories to maximize sales and increase customer satisfaction. Another requirement, mostly offered in B2B solutions, are many ways to easily re-order from past orders, invoices and quotes. Although some people complain about buying accessories, your customers will be even more unhappy if your website doesn't explain that certain accessories are needed for performing some of a product’s functions. Your eCommerce software should help you to develop your marketing, advertising and content strategy to maximize sales.
5. Cross-Border Shipping Integrations
International shipping involves performing currency conversions, integrating insurance costs, tracking shipments, assessing and forwarding taxes and customs and comparing different courier options to find the best shipping values. If your software fails to determine these costs in real-time, you or your customers could end up paying more than expected. Robust eCommerce platforms integrate this information into the user experience by setting all-inclusive prices or giving customers options for choosing their own shipping account details. Domestic shipping is simple when companies have universal applications that figure state sales taxes and standard shipping costs, but these problems escalate when your software needs to know the shipping rates for multiple couriers, tax rates for multiple countries and jurisdictions and the customs, duties and logistical expenses associated with shipping or warehousing products. Another concern is that customers in some countries only pay after products have been delivered, or they have the right to return merchandise within a certain time. Merchants then need to arrange the logistics for returns. Choose a platform or vendor that automates these calculations and transfers them to every part of your website and catalog where they're needed. There's no overstating what international shipping integration with your eCommerce platform can do for your business.
6. Package Tracking
In the United States and most Western countries, the major carriers generally provide deliveries within a few days depending on the chosen shipping method (i.e. ground, Express, overnight, etc.). Tracking is often a nonissue, but even short waits concern customers who want to know that everything's progressing as expected. Global shipping increases customer anxiety exponentially. Your company might use multiple carriers and local postal systems, and shoppers in developing countries accept that their deliveries that might take up to one or two weeks. U.S. customers expect faster deliveries, but people in other countries often prefer value-priced shipping options over speedy deliveries. Global shipping and tracking abilities through the use of a multi-currency integrate eCommerce solution allow your business to use various options like proprietary networks and local delivery services. Other essential tracking issues include:
- Creating automatic tracking numbers to facilitate monitoring
- Printing shipper-friendly labels
- Calculating exact costs and savings by using multiple shipping methods
- Tracking packages in real-time regardless of country or carrier
- Generating self-serve options for customers
7. Currency Conversions
The easier that you make conversions for your customers, the better your results will be. Strong multi-currency eCommerce integration platforms convert prices automatically to multiple currencies at international exchange rates and accept diverse digital payment options. You will need a multicurrency account through a bank or service provider and a payment gateway that accepts international payments. Your eCommerce software must integrate seamlessly with these accounts and support accepting multiple currencies. Offering customers a familiar payment method in their own language and currency can help to prevent cart abandonment because customers often cancel their transactions after finding an unfamiliar currency when finishing their orders. The protocols for establishing currency conversions are enormously complex, and currency traders use these complexities to earn millions of dollars. You want software that's up to the job and doesn't cause you to lose money to speculators while providing reassurance to customers.
Scalability is incredibly important for any eCommerce platform, so choose software that has a flexible .NET framework that allows growth, integration and upgrades to your marketing and processing abilities. The best solutions allow you to expand your options as you grow and not pay for services that you don't need. A scalable platform allows customizations, plugins, analytics tools and suites of administrative tools that can be added as your business grows. Look for a modular platform, like Clarity eCommerce, that's designed to be customizable for every customer, not as off-the-shelf product that allows for "some" customization. Those are made to serve the masses and are difficult and expensive to customize and often can't grow with your business. You end up ripping and replacing them when your business outgrows them. Save the money and get a robust platform up front.
9. Search Management
Reaching, attracting and keeping international customers often involves different SEO strategies than you normally use. For example, Google is the largest search engine in the United States and most Western countries, but some countries use other search engines more often than Google. Russian and Arabic audiences and Internet shoppers have grown more than 1,000 percent since 2008, and Chinese customers are buying online at almost the same growth rate. People in these countries use more search engines, different keywords and various strategies when looking for products and services. Your website and software needs to incorporate these variables to rank well for searches in the global community and not just satisfy Google's algorithms or Western practices.
10. Flexibility for Product Catalogs
One of the greatest challenges of multilingual eCommerce is managing your product catalog, empowering merchandisers and providing flexibility without duplicating data. Your customers want updates, new application and the ability to define promotions and discounts, extract email lists and make minor changes in content. Your platform needs to handle flexible applications for product catalogs to adapt to changing business needs and adjust for special promotions without damaging the website or affecting processing abilities. Your catalog concerns might involve any of the following issues:
- Supporting categories and subcategories without generating unwanted duplications in data
- Empowering merchandisers, marketing managers and authorized consultants
- Expediting requests for changes
- Handling accessories and upgrades
- Managing different price points for dealer-tier levels
- Representing different attributes for targeted markets
- Authorizing stakeholders to control certain parts of the catalog
How Clarity Can Help
Clarity specializes in providing the tools for multilingual websites and international marketing and sales. You get the latest applications for providing seamless user experiences in multiple languages and a website design and eCommerce platform that adjust to your customers for full functionality. You can integrate custom applications, conversions, catalog development and marketing campaigns with seamless visuals and content that target customers in multiple countries. Contact Clarity today for a free quote, consultation or further information about its eCommerce and integration platforms can help you build your business globally with multilingual support.