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GUEST COMMENT Consumers aren’t shopping internationally. Pourquoi pas?

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One of the great beauties of the internet is the fact that it is global. You can be sitting at home in London and communicate with someone in New York. The same is true when it comes to ecommerce. If you had such a desire for the best quality Italian suede loafers, all it takes is a few clicks of a button and they can be delivered directly from Italy to you in the UK.

However, we conducted some research which found that consumers are reluctant to take the plunge and shop on foreign websites. Of the 2,442 European respondents we surveyed, just 8% said that within the next year they would be likely to purchase a physical product from an international online store. What is more, only 30% of respondents said that they felt confident when purchasing from foreign websites. This percentage is striking when compared to the fact that 77% said they felt confident shopping online in their own country.

This surprised us as online shopping across borders can offer massive benefits to consumers. Firstly, it gives them access to a much wider choice of products, many of which made not be sold in their home country. In a lot of cases, the products are also cheaper and, as is the case with the Italian suede loafers, you can be sure of the quality and origins. So with all these opportunities, what is stopping consumers from filling their shopping baskets at Le Redoute as opposed to Next?

To attract international shoppers, online retailers tend to focus on the basics, such as, ensuring the website translates correctly into the relevant language and offering local pricing. These are important of course, but there is so much more that can be done to build a foreign customer base. Our research focused on turning international browsers into paying customers by understanding the hurdles that stop them from making a purchase. We found that consumers’ top worries were:

Worry 1: “The delivery cost alone will break the bank”

Free shipping on international orders is not an economical option for retailers and most customers will know and understand this. However, the mistake that a lot of retailers make is letting the consumers assume the delivery cost will be astronomically high because it is cross border. If you have made the effort to translate your website and offer local pricing, then go a step further and clearly communicate the delivery costs on the home page and throughout the purchase journey.

Worry 2: “I’ll have to wait, wait and wait for my parcel!”

This will depend on where the parcel is coming from, but again this needs to be communicated clearly to the customer rather than letting them make assumptions. In many cases, deliveries within Europe are sometimes just as quick as domestic deliveries, taking 2-4 days. Other international orders can also sometimes arrive within 5-10 days. But what our experience of delivery tells us, is that actually most consumers are willing to wait for their orders, what is really important to them is that they know exactly when it is arriving. Therefore, providing accurate delivery times is essential.

Worry 3: “But won’t the returns cost the earth?”

Retailers should be working with carriers to offer customers easy and quick solutions that do not break the bank – and if that means the customer does not even have to open their wallet, all the better. There are solutions that allow retailers to implement a returns service that covers multiple countries either free of cost or at a local cost to the customer. This simply requires the customer to drop off the unwanted parcel at their local post office or convenience store.

Worry 4: “How do I know my payment details will be secure?”

Due to the many high profile data breaches within the last couple of years, secure payments is a growing concern for consumers and businesses alike. Consumers need to feel that they can trust you with their information. Therefore, it pays to have the correct secure payment accreditations and vendor requirements displayed on your website.

With the ecommerce industry growing from strength to strength, it is time for online retailers across the globe to turn their attention to increasing customer confidence and making the most of the international market.

Stuart Rivett is managing director of B2C Europe

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