One of the key stages in an international e-commerce project is adapting the website to the various target markets. In addition to language, currency and the product catalogue, many aspects need to be determined in order to localise an e-commerce website. So, where to begin? What are the pitfalls that need to be avoided? Let’s take a closer look at what is needed to successfully localise an e-commerce website.
The first thing that comes to mind is obviously the need to translate your e-commerce website. And this is a good first step! Consumers are more inclined to make purchases on websites that show content in their own language, quite simply because they feel more reassured about what they are buying.
However, simply translating your e-commerce website is not enough to encourage purchases. Above all, consumers’ needs and online purchasing behaviour need to be taken into account. These are closely tied to cultural differences and habits specific to individual countries.
ADAPT YOUR PRODUCT CATALOGUE
When establishing a presence in a country, it is often necessary to consider whether the product is suited to the market. Does it meet a consumer need? Can you market it in its current state or should you adapt it for use in the target country? Is it the right season?
The catalogue and product data sheets should also be adapted on the basis of such considerations. There isn’t much use in offering a wide range of duvet jackets if the temperature in the target country never drops below 25°C, selling shorts right in the middle of the country’s winter season, or marketing a household appliance that doesn’t meet applicable electrical standards!
ADAPT THE INTERFACE TO MAXIMISE USER EXPERIENCE
Internet users’ browsing habits and level of familiarity with new technologies can vary from country to country. It is therefore necessary to be in phase with local practices and cultural mindsets by adapting the website’s ergonomics and functions, including meanings associated with icons, symbols and colours.
Such adaptation should not, however, go so far as to impinge on the brand’s overall coherence and identity.
ADAPT PAYMENT AND DELIVERY METHODS AND COMPLY WITH APPLICABLE LEGISLATION
Each country has its own payment habits for online shopping. In France, consumers mainly pay by bank card. But there are of course other payment methods: In Germany and the Netherlands, people prefer to pay by bank transfer, while Japanese and Chinese shoppers pay on receipt of their goods. Also, prices must be shown in the local currency.
Failure to take these matters into consideration can lead to a loss of trust in the purchasing process among consumers and significantly affect the website’s conversion rate.
As with payment methods, delivery methods can vary from one country to another. Depending on the strategy they adopt, online retailers can opt for international deliveries (the cost of which needs to be evaluated for each zone) or the setting up of logistics platforms in each market.
Lastly, other factors, such as currency exchange rates, the local price policy (inclusive or exclusive of tax), confidentiality policy and product returns policy, also need to be taken into account by online retailers, who must make sure they comply with applicable national legislation.
DEFINE A LOCAL SEO/SEA STRATEGY
In order to improve your search engine presence, you need to adapt your overall visibility and ranking strategy into a local SEO/SEA campaign. This adaptation involves more than simply translating keywords. You need to be familiar with the search engines used in target countries and how they work (for example Baidu is the leader in China and not Google), as well as keywords in the target language and their positioning in relation to local competitors.
MAKE YOUR WEBSITE PART OF A LOCAL MULTICHANNEL MARKETING STRATEGY
Lastly, your e-commerce website must be integrated in a local multichannel marketing strategy. Are there physical stores in the country? Which digital media do you need a presence on? How can customer service be contacted? Are the major social networks authorised in the country? If so, are they widely used? If not, which ones are most commonly used?