While companies strive to make the e-commerce shopping experience beautiful and easy for consumers, too often they fall down once they have shoppers hooked.
This is particularly true when it comes to global e-commerce. Global companies must perfect the entire buying experience to thrill and delight online shoppers—and to compete effectively. Here are five aspects of global e-commerce that brands must get right to build customer trust and loyalty.
1. Localization: A global strategy is really a local strategy fine-tuned for each region you’re operating in. This means having your digital marketplace optimized for the expectations of that location’s audience. It plays out in local currency, language, and site flow. Getting these details right builds trust; getting them wrong can be enough to lose shoppers entirely. More specifically:
- Currency: Your currency settings should render as they would for a local company in that location. Don’t just use the ISO three-letter currency code (USD), but format your prices according to local expectations. This includes the placement of the currency symbol (before or after the price), the number of decimal points, and use of commas, periods, and spaces. For example, in the U.S., we put the dollar sign in front of the numbers. But some European countries, such as Norway and Sweden, put the monetary symbol after the numbers.
- Site flow: Ensure that you’re asking for information in the proper order for that location—and that you’re asking for the correct information. For example, when requesting a customer’s mailing or billing address, make sure you format and collect the data in the culturally expected order. In the U.S., we ask for the ZIP code after the state. But in other countries, the comparable numeric code might come in a different place in the address order.
2. Local payments entity: It’s critical to have the right payments structure in place so your customers can easily make purchases with the type of payment processing system they’re used to. Visa and Mastercard are almost ubiquitous, but even in some countries where they’re used, customers strongly prefer other payment options, such as bank transfers. Brands must have a local acquiring network to ensure payments are supported, even with credit cards.
3. Local warehouse: When deciding on a logistics strategy for warehousing and shipping products globally, first consider the expectations of each local region in which you’re selling. Obviously, it’s ideal to have local warehouses within a few hours of driving distance of customers. Indeed, in the U.S., Amazon’s Prime Now has started to drive extremely high expectations for online shoppers. But that’s not a universal expectation throughout the world. Customers in many locations understand that they’ll have to wait several days or more for delivery.
4. Customer support: Match your customer support offerings to the expectations of the locality you’re operating in. A general rule of thumb is that if your website content is in a local language, then customers will expect a seamless experience, with customer support in that language as well. It’s not enough to just get your website translated. You should consider chat, email, and phone support in that language as well.
5. Marketing: Your marketing strategy should align with local realities, tastes, and customs. Even in the U.S., which is large enough to have different climates and weather patterns, brands must localize their marketing. For example, I live in Minnesota, where you’d expect to see ads for snow blowers at Home Depot this time of year. But it would be strange to see a Home Depot ad for a snow blower in Austin, Texas. It can be tricky, though. You wouldn’t necessarily think you should promote swimsuits in Minnesota in January, but we have a spring break culture here where people vacation in warmer climates. Only a local marketing expert would be able to leverage that cultural nuance.
All of this is predicated on a brand having a high-quality product or service. Your customer experience process is only as good as how well your company is prepared for and responds when something goes wrong. A broken product that needs to be returned or fixed or dissatisfaction with a service are great opportunities to zero in on the entire customer experience. If you’re able to turn a misstep into a seamless customer experience and, in turn, earn a new loyal customer, then you’re on the right track. Following these critical consumer experience tips will help keep your customers hooked not just through this buying experience, but for the entire relationship.