You've got your sights set on the international market and you feel ready to make the leap! You now need to make sure you have everything you need. How can you ensure that your development in countries with different cultures, laws and customs to those you are used to will be successful? Here are some key steps that will help you to stack the odds in your favor!
Choose your destination: measure your international traffic
Developing internationally should not be left to chance, and your statistics can help you to make the right decisions. Where do my foreign customers come from? In which other countries is there high demand? And plenty of other questions to which the figures hold the answers. This is the surest way to get on the right track!
If you do not offer payment means or international shipping, you are pretty much guaranteed to never ship packages overseas. You therefore need to analyze in which countries demand may be high: interest in your products, competition, size on the market, etc. Remember that the countries that appeal to you personally may not be of interest to your business!
Adapt to the jargon of your target country
That's all there is to it! You know where you want to expand, so it's now time to move from the abstract to the concrete… and start adapting your shop! To do this, you should pay attention to several criteria, in particular:
The language is the most obvious and the most important. Get the whole of your site translated (about, contact, conditions for use, etc.), not just your product pages. Also remember that the same language may vary depending on where it is spoken (US English is not the same as UK English, for instance).
The currency, so that your customers can pay you! By adapting to the country's currency, you increase your chances of getting paid and often avoid bank charges.
Localization is a key element of good practice. Think about using the right domain name – .fr is only used in France – and a local telephone number, for example. Also think about taxes, which are bound to be different!
Units of measurement (weight, distance, etc.) must also be taken into consideration. Meters, kilograms and liters are not used everywhere in the world.
PrestaShop has been translated into 65 languages, and localization packs, which include the translation, the currencies, the units of measurement, the taxes and the states (as appropriate), are available to download free of charge.
Introduce the country's payment methods
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to pay for your order! As well as disappointing a customer on the home straight, you may lose sales. Practices vary from country to country: bank card, check, e-wallet, and cash on delivery etc., a whole host of payment methods to which you have to adapt to offer shoppers the same solution they use whenever they order anything online.
Offer local carriers
Customers expect their packages! You therefore need to offer them a carrier they are familiar with and that can deliver quickly. This is important for reassuring them: customers want their package to arrive quickly and in good condition. They may also prefer to collect items from a nearby collection point. This is the point at which you should ask yourself the question about cost practices in terms of transport: still free shipping, calculation based on weight or number of items, free above a certain value, etc. In short, follow best practice!
Find out about the laws in force
National legislation needs to be taken into account whenever you expand overseas. You need to follow the rules and abide by the laws governing commerce and e-commerce. Find out about product returns and shipping policies, IT laws, and reimbursement and damages policies. You must take into account laws that protect merchants and those that protect customers to adapt your shop and bring it into line. It's a good idea to contact a lawyer in the country who specializes in these matters to answer your questions and give you guidance!
As you can see, expanding overseas is an exciting adventure but one that requires hard work. Take a look at the dozens of online shops in the country and learn from them. The important thing is to always think local. Throw away your preconceptions and gather information... preferably from natives of the country!
PrestaShop has 310 features to help you with your international growth.