Growing Your Online Business Part 6

Selling into other Countries

The beauty of e-commerce is that you can reach everybody with your sales message almost equally irrespective of where you are based.  The term ‘almost ‘equally is relevant, though – and we’ll get to that shortly.

But even if everyone can see your sales message, there are still several issues to consider before you offer your goods in countries or territories that are away from your base operation. We’ll look at that fulfilment process in our next article but for now, let’s concentrate on the front end selling.

So  – back to the ‘almost’:

You might think that you can attract people to buy your products in foreign places as easily as you can in your home territory and to some extent that’s true. The same methods can be used to drive traffic in say the UK as you might use if you are US-based. SEO, PPC and affiliates can all be targeted in that location and traffic will arrive if you get it right. But when that traffic arrives at your store, what will it see?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you want to highlight to your audience that you are based in a different country. If you are selling genuine American baseball caps from your US site or perhaps genuine English Breakfast tea from the UK – then it may be an advantage. Do people want the real thing and where better to buy it – right? But sometimes your audience will be nervous if they are ordering from abroad. Maybe they are worried about the shipping time or maybe they are concerned that returns won’t be as easy or cost-effective. So it may be that you want to appeal to your audience without waving your ‘overseas flag’. That’s not to say that you are deliberately hiding the fact – just that you want to make your audience feel comfortable that they are buying from someone who understands international selling.

selling abroad

The two obvious issues are language and currency. If you are selling into Spain or Germany from an English speaking location, then it might be better to offer a site with a Spanish or German suffix (.es or .de) and make sure all the words are in their language. The good news is that our Shopify themes can all be translated using Shopify's Language Translation features.

You may find you want other language versions of the site anyway.  If for example, you are based in the US, then you may want to operate a website in Spanish to appeal to that section of the population who have that as their first language.

Currency can be a little trickier, and you will need to sync your payment gateway with a provider that offers this service. When you do this, make sure the selling price is initially calculated in your home currency so that you aren’t at the mercy of the exchange rates and potentially end up selling at a loss. It’s better to adjust your base price knowingly if you need to - rather than get caught out.

When you are trying to appeal to overseas buyers, think about tackling their potential concerns ‘head on’ with an International  FAQ Page explaining how you ship your products and support returns to overseas customers.

But there are also more subtle issues such as spelling and culture.  Even websites in the English language give their location away with spelling differences. For example, the word ‘color’  in the US is spelt ‘colour’ in the UK and an ‘s’ replaces a ‘z’ in many words such as ‘organization’ or ‘subsidize’.

Think about using graphics that better reflect the country you are trying to sell into. For example, only using photos of western faces alongside your products may be either an advantage or a turn off if you are trying to sell to countries in the far east.  Decide which it is and design your site accordingly.

So if you want to make your audience feel at home, then it still may be worth running separate sites for different territories and the good news it that with our Shopify themes, that’s easy to do.

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We hope that you enjoyed this post and that you found it informative. Please feel free to comment below.

Also, did we mention our extremely popular responsive Shopify themes? Your shop has to look good when visitors come around :)

Richard Bairstow is the founder and CEO of We are Underground and is recognised as a leading authority in the Shopify Theme marketplace with 5 of the best selling published themes within the Shopify theme store and over 20,000 active Shopify customers.

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