Cross-border e-commerce is a massive opportunity. According to research by Forrester, consumers shopping with global or international retailers will help generate sales of $630 billion, representing 20% of global e-commerce sales by 2020.

Expectations from shoppers have risen considerably as technology has enabled a more seamless and transparent purchasing experience. They value real-time and convenient payments and that’s the case whether a retailer is based in Brighton or Baltimore. As commerce becomes increasingly international, the demand for fast, efficient and transparent cross-border payments is greater than ever before. By properly addressing these, retailers can reach millions of potential new customers — increasing sales significantly and establishing themselves as major players in their market. 

But what are the main things retailers must focus on to make the cross-border e-commerce experience as smooth as possible for international shoppers?

Localisation for effortless browsing

For starters, retailers need to accept that convenience is, and always will be, king. No matter what country your shopper is in, they’ll want to be able to use their usual method of payment to feel at home. By familiarising themselves with their customers’ preferred local payment methods, retailers can be sure to win their trust.

For instance, while Visa and PayPal may be the key players in the UK, that doesn’t hold true for the rest of the globe. If you’re trying to appeal to the Chinese market, but don’t currently support the most common payment methods used there, such as WeChat, UnionPay and AliPay, levels of engagement are likely to be low. Ensuring prices are displayed in local currencies saves shoppers the hassle of figuring out how much a product is actually going to cost them — eliminating another key barrier to purchase. It may sound simple, but it’s important to remember that a shopper from Japan is typically more willing to pay for a product in Yen than in Pounds, so make sure you’re catering to the needs of different audiences.

Localising the online experience also means ensuring that the checkout page is optimised for the international customer — with navigation and language, as well as pricing, being local to each shopper’s region. Failing to cater to these different audiences can make the shopping experience jarring: leading to abandoned baskets and unsatisfied users. Taking time and care to address these elements will help the customer feel more comfortable with their experience and more likely to return. 

Flexibility to boost convenience

To further streamline the payments process, retailers must also consider incorporating flexible payments into the checkout. Alternative payment options, such as those provided by Klarna, transcend borders to give customers financial choice and control. Klarna lets shoppers pay later — up to 30 days after delivery of goods — so they can touch and feel items before having to part with any money.  Klarna can also boost purchase power at the point of sale by letting shoppers pay for goods in instalments — removing a key barrier to conversion from the purchase journey. 

By offering multiple payment options, retailers can provide their national and international customers with a whole other level of convenience — allowing them to be smart with their money and thus securing their loyalty. They can also gain a significant advantage over their competitors in the battle for the consumer. 

Looking ahead, as consumers increasingly choose to shop overseas, there will be a greater demand for a more tailored and localised shopping experience. A frictionless checkout which is fast, mobile-optimised and provides relevant payment options is paramount. As such, retailers need to be ready to rise to the challenge and adapt to the needs of their increasingly international audiences. 

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