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With smaller retailers competing against the larger brands, their hunger to expand internationally has become stronger, as retailers increasingly continue to break into the online realm. However, with their sights firmly set on growth, many miss out on the fundamental basics which could impact their chances of succeeding.
To attract international customers, UK retailers need to concentrate their efforts on ensuring the intrinsic elements of their site are clear, concise and specific to the market’s requirements before investing their money on marketing internationally. Unfortunately, some key elements are being overlooked. It is so easy to forget how important the payment page is to each and every transaction, especially when spending vital budget on attracting customers to the site.
Our recent research (1) revealed that despite the majority of UK businesses spending up to a fifth of their marketing budget on attracting international customers, 40 per cent of potential international revenue is lost at the payments page. There is only a benefit in attracting customers if once they go through the process of familiarising themselves with the site, choose an item and try to complete the purchase, they can find their preferred payment method. Otherwise, they are likely to move elsewhere, never to return.
Our research also revealed that of the retailers looking to attract international customers, only 55 per cent were prepared to offer different payment options to them, showing a serious disconnect between a retailer’s business strategy and their appreciation for how international payment cultures differ.
As each country has its own culture, so it has its preferred payment methods. Whilst the credit card is a globally recognised payment method, most countries in Europe prefer alternative means, be it direct debit, e-wallets, iDEAL, giropay, other domestic real time bank transfer schemes or SEPA direct debit. There can often be a worry that additional elements like this will cost a business revenue. In most cases, for a business to accept payments of this type, it can be as simple as ticking a box through your PSP (Payment Service Provider), and this simple act can increase revenue in the long term.
With the global accessibility of goods via the internet and reduced shipping costs from far flung destinations, making your site stand out from the crowd is not only important, but necessary for a business to thrive. It is unlikely that your site is the only one of its kind and customer satisfaction, throughout all stages of the process, is imperative. Consumers expect personalisation and to be offered goods that are of interest to them and immediately available; to be offered a site that is interesting and easily navigated; and to be able to complete a purchase once they have invested the time.
Online stores need to ensure that any potential barriers to customer satisfaction and revenue are addressed before investing in marketing to attract international customers. It must be appreciated that payments are as diverse as languages and cultures themselves, and personalisation is an important focus throughout. Something that can be so easily dismissed will have a damaging effect upon the profitability of any online business.
(1) Coleman Parkes for PPRO, November 2014. Coleman Parkes surveyed 300 people (150 in the UK and 150 in Germany) responsible for, leading the implementation or makes decisions on online payment solutions across a range of sectors including clothing, automotive, appliances, books / music / videos, computers / electronics, food / grocery, housewares, health / beauty, toys / hobbies / sports, jewellery, pharmaceutical, stationary / office supplies.
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