Five tips to boost global ecommerce sales this holiday season

As of last year, the overwhelming majority of U.S. shoppers are buying online, and ecommerce sales worldwide hit a record high of $1.3 trillion. The news couldn’t be better for ecommerce predictions for ecommerce sales this holiday season—global sales are expected to grow 6.4%. But just because there’s enough pie for everyone at this holiday table doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a slice.

Here are our tips for tapping into the potential profits of a global marketplace.

1. Go global, but think local

A marketing strategy that works well in North America won’t necessarily do the same in Asia or Europe, which means you’ll have to rethink your strategies and messaging for each target market. It’s going to take research—and lots of it—to find the words and images that resonate best with each audience, but it’s not only the people you have to impress, it’s also their preferred search engines.

For example, SEO strategy should change to target the more popular search engines used around the world—Google hasn’t taken over the earth quite yet. Yahoo is more used in Japan; Baidu in China; Naver in Korea; Yandex in Russia; and Bing gives Google stiff competition in the United Kingdom.

2. Localize your mobile app (omni-channel advantage)

Some 66% of all time spent on ecommerce sites is done from mobile devices—and 61% of customers will leave a site if it isn’t mobile friendly. More than that, Google will now prioritize mobile-friendly pages on search engine results (UX is the new SEO, if you haven’t heard!). But it’s not enough for you to make your site and product pages responsive to mobile—you have to ensure that the brand experience is consistent across all platforms and in all countries.

3. Translate user-generated content

User-generated content like reviews and comments do more to increase international buyer confidence than any other marketing activity, which is why we recommend translating them. While translating user-generated content is usually last on the priority list for companies, for online shoppers in particular, reading reviews is an important part of the purchase process (especially when buying holiday gifts, people might be willing to take a chance on themselves with an unknown product, but not on dear old grandpère). For ecommerce companies, it can drastically enhance customer experience to translate page text, product listings and user reviews as one bundle. (Read more about translating user-generated content here.)

4. Embrace local payment methods

Ecommerce makes global retail more accessible now than ever before, but two barriers stand in the way for many buyers: language and currency. Ecommerce sites interested in global markets know they have to translate product pages, but fewer think to change how their currency is listed. When buyers see a product price in an unfamiliar currency, a string of questions begins:

  • How much does it cost in my currency?
  • Are they willing to ship it here?
  • How much will shipping cost?

And the more they hesitate, the less likely they are to purchase. But, by listing products in the local currency, you remove that barrier and signal that you are willing to shop (and it won’t cost an arm and a leg).

However, currency symbols aren’t the only things that will have to change to remove friction in the buying process for international customers. You’ll also have to consider how they pay.

A recent study found that only 36% of consumers trust online retailers to secure their personal information, which isn’t a very high number. This means that ecommerce sites have to put extra effort into helping customers feel comfortable shopping with them. Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to use the primary payment methods of your target countries. For example, PayPal is used most in the U.S.; in China, it’s Alipay; in the Netherlands it’s iDEAL.

5. Take advantage of key shopping holidays

Holiday shopping in the U.S. stretches from before Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas sales, and Black Friday is almost another holiday in itself. But when you enter the global market, you can take advantage of other shopping occasions, like Single’s Day in China, Diwali in India, El Buen Fin in Mexico and Boxing Day in Commonwealth nations. Black Friday also appears in other countries under different names. In South Korea, buyers take advantage of Black Friday sales (South Koreans bought more than $1 billion worth of products from ecommerce sites based abroad in 2013) but call it Beufle. In Dubai, White Weekend takes place from on November 27–28.

Cheers to a very happy and busy holiday season!

Learn more about how you can use Gengo for ecommerce.

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Lauren Van Mullem

The author

Lauren Van Mullem

Lauren assists in content production for Gengo's marketing team. As a former food and travel writer, she has experience communicating with all kinds of people from around the world and believes in celebrating different cultures through understanding them.

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