What American E-commerce Businesses Should Know To Work Successfully With European Customers: The Guide From Semalt
E-commerce made it possible for businesses to transcend through geographical borders. However, there are a lot of aspects to keep in mind before selling abroad. Oliver King, the Customer Success manager of Semalt, explains the features that American e-commerce businesses should know when prospecting to sell in Europe. The expert also gives a useful insight on what practices already established business have to develop in order to grow.
European E-commerce Metrics
Growth rates indicate market’s potential. Between 2012 and 2017, e-commerce field in Western Europe expects a steady growth of 12 percent when 18 percent increase is expected to take place in Southern Europe. Unfortunately, Central and Eastern Europe may not experience the same results, but Statistica.com estimates their growth from $41.5 to $73.1 billion. All scenarios highlight opportunities for American businesses. The top players are U.K, Germany, and France, who are accounted in 75 percent of all online retail sales. Adyen Mobile Index accounts much of the European growth to the rise of mobile payments.
The “E-commerce Readiness Index” measures a 360-degree view of the market readiness, as developed by Forrester. It revolves around the consumer, vendor, infrastructure, and retail opportunity pillars. The US score is 73.4, which is the highest score in the world. The situation serves as an advantage for e-commerce businesses in the U.S as the consumers in other countries will have lower expectations. That means that high quality of products and services will be impressive on other markets.
Difference between European and American E-commerce Customers
1. Language Diversity
Jakub Marian developed a Chart, which shows the percentage of people capable of having a conversation in English. Its implications help businesses decide whether to use English to target southern Europe or go for big e-commerce markets like Germany and France. Other countries like Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands speak English well. However, it would also be prudent to use their local dialects to increase the rate of success. Even so, just as English is diverse, so are the local languages too.
2. Cultural Diversity
Analyzing four buyer persona models will help to discern these differences in the market. Obviously, there exist a broad range of cultural differences between groups. Business should target each group with a different message, making sure that they perform the right kind of translation.
3. Legal Restrictions
The European Union rallies to standardize all European laws to make it possible cross-border e-commerce. However, there are still individual laws for some countries with Germany having the strictest rules. It is important to consider some of the individual laws that countries have. A business should adhere to both national and European laws.
European Union countries have accepted Euro as their national currency except for the U.K, Poland, Sweden, and Norway. Evidence shows that some have their preferred payment methods. The most common are the credit cards and PayPal, and some like Netherlands have iDEAL. Not offering these options could harm the conversion rates. Therefore, it is advisable to offer at least the most common methods to give consumers the option to choose.
The UPS and Fed EX dominate at the US express delivery market. Europeans prefer DHL (40%), which is followed by TNT (15%). UPS has a market share of 10%. Local players such as PostNL in Netherlands, and bpost in the Belgian market, play crucial roles as well. They have excellent relationships with their consumers, which makes them favorable to e-commerce businesses. Due to the different international shipment prices, local stock and shipping may occasionally come in handy.
E-commerce business should realize the need to localize. It helps to build confidence with the customer base. It can be a local office, local agent, or a rented postal address. Local phone numbers also play a vital role since customers will not have to pay extra for international calls. A local bank should ease transactions. Finally, the business should receive certification from an institution familiar to the target audience.
When marketing abroad, translating a website should take note of the important SEO words used locally. Google’s Global Market Finder is very useful for such purposes. Also, some companies combine translations with SEO copy-writing and can help business owners.
8. Support and Sales
Following up process requires the work of sales agents or account managers from the target country and who speak the local language to build trust. Also, customer care for users having difficulties is essential. If one cannot difficulties implement this, some companies will do.
Europe presents many opportunities to American e-commerce businesses. However, these businesses have to prioritize their local needs. Extensive research before expanding to Europe is the key. Focus on growth and the maturity of the market. Also the imperative thing to do is to localize product and the message it self. It may seem to be difficult, but once it mastered, the Europe will become your most viable export market.