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GUEST COMMENT How to win in the digital era: addressing customers concerns

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Capturing international online sales remains a huge opportunity for British retailers with more than two-thirds of global consumers buying from abroad.

Innovation through mobile and other technologies is giving more control to the consumer and revolutionising the way people buy, sell and trade – what we call the People Powered Economy. For the retail industry, this provides new ways to grow as retailers can now reach global customers without a shop front.

New opportunities can bring new challenges. To help retailers get a better understanding of customer concerns, PayPal interviewed 15,000 consumers across fifteen major markets to find out what pain points exist when they shop online, so retailers can address these and get ahead of the game.

Steps to success

Ensure payments are safe and simple

Shopping online is now the norm, and most transactions go off without a hitch. Yet we found 57% worry that their payment details might be stolen, and it’s important to show your customers you are taking security seriously. You can keep your customers safe by making sure you stay compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). What you need to do to comply depends on various factors, like your level of transactions and card issuer. You can find out more information here.

Build a reputation that you’ll deliver the goods

Almost half of those we talked to sometimes worry that the items they buy could end up being of poor quality, so as an online retailer you need to build a reputation that what you say is what you get. Make sure descriptions are accurate and include images when you can. Be honest, and if you’re using sites like eBay, use the feedback mechanism to get the best possible rating. Give good customer service to minimise the chance of getting negative feedback; other shoppers are your best advocates.

Make sure you have a decent returns policy in place

Around one third of those we surveyed worried about the costs of returning goods. You need to give your customers a service which is fast and easy, and most will want to see your policy on returns upfront, before they make a purchase. Give customers easy returns options and then treat returning stock as you would your other shipments, so you have a process in place. You could also consider implementing a click-and-collect scheme where customers can just return their purchase to a local shop.

Minimise risk when selling abroad

For those buying from abroad online the biggest worry is that their order won’t arrive on time, if at all. To minimise this uncertainty, use a logistics provider who will allow your customers to track their order in real time or as close to it as possible. Communicate regularly with your customers so they know that you are a retailer they can trust. Showing you are credible is one of the most important things you can do to sell internationally. You can find more free tools and tips to help you sell internationally on PayPal’s PassPort, a website designed to educate and empower small businesses with free tools to expand their global sales. You will find everything from seasonal sales peaks in different markets to advice on working in different cultures and how best to physically get your goods to your customers.

Rob Harper is head of retail services at PayPal UK.

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