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How to Globalize Your eCommerce Business (6 Tips)

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Written By: author image Natalie Jones

Do you want to globalize your eCommerce business?

If you’re operating an online business, it makes sense that you would want to expand beyond the borders of your home country to maximize revenue. However, before you start offering your products and services globally, you’ll need to consider a few key elements.

In this article, we’ll share six key factors that come into play when selling globally, including currencies, languages, marketing efforts, shipping, and tax collection.

1. Buying Motivations

To reach success selling globally, you’ll not only want to open up your store to international customers; you’ll want to optimize it for them as well.

Think broadly about the kinds of things that will motivate an international audience, compared to the things that may push domestic consumers to make a purchase. Of course, you don’t want to stereotype anyone, but spending a bit of time doing some cultural research might help make your online store more appealing to a new international audience.

For example, in the United States, consumers are often driven to buy from vendors that appeal to their core values and beliefs – like businesses that use green manufacturing standards, for instance.

We recommend using Google Analytics (GA4) to research where the majority of your visitors are located and what types of products and services they’re looking for on your site. This helps identify the countries you’ll want to market to and what specific products you should offer.

2. Language Barriers

It’s no secret that English speakers have a bit of an advantage when it comes to selling internationally. Recent data indicates that English is the third most popular language in the world, after Chinese and Spanish.

If you are marketing to a country with a lot of English speakers, like Canada or Germany, for example, you should be aware that certain phrases and words may mean something completely different abroad than they do in the United States.

For example, decades ago, Colgate manufactured a toothpaste product named “Cue.” Unfortunately, no one at Colgate’s corporate team did enough research to realize that “Cue” was also the name of a popular adult magazine in France.

Seemingly innocent mistakes like these are littered throughout the history of marketing and advertising. The risk is especially high if you are going to be translating your eCommerce store into another language.

To combat these types of mistakes, it certainly isn’t enough to simply copy and paste your site’s text into Google Translate. You’ll want to install a translation plugin for WordPress that allows you to set up a multilingual site without code.

3. Accepting Different Currencies

Another important consideration when it comes to international selling is accepting new forms of currency. Most payment processors will allow you to accept multiple currencies, but each one handles it slightly differently.

For example, with Stripe, online merchants can accept over 135 different currencies.

WP Simple Pay, the #1 Stripe payments plugin for WordPress, allows you to display a native currency to users in different locales. It also lets you set a default currency for all of your payment forms as well as a default language and currency format.

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The plugin supports 135+ currencies along with 30+ languages and 45+ countries. Not only that, you can create payment forms that accept several different payment methods based on your customer’s location. For example, WP Simple Pay offers support for several popular digital wallets like Apple Pay / Google Pay, in addition to Alipay, GrabPay, Przelewy24, iDEAL, Bacs Direct Debit, Giropay, Bancontact, and more.

WP Simple Pay also automatically detects your customer’s location, which allows you to easily display payment forms in their preferred language and currency.

From there, Stripe automatically converts the currency before settling the transaction.

Remember: Depending on a customer’s bank, their credit card may charge them fees for making purchases outside of their local currency.

WP Simple Pay is the best multi-currency payment plugin for businesses looking to accept one-time or recurring payments in multiple currencies without having to install any addons or extra plugins.

With all of that being said, if your business sells digital products like PDFs, music files, and eBooks, using a plugin like Easy Digital Downloads is highly recommended.

With the plugin’s extension, EDD Multi-Currency, you can display and accept payments in 200+ currencies to offer seamless international purchases.

Overall, before you roll out your store to a new international audience, be sure to have a plan in place for accepting new currencies. This will help you avoid potentially costly fees for you or your customers, and ensure that you don’t run into any technical problems that compromise your store’s user experience.

4. International Shipping

Depending on what you sell and where you want to start selling, shipping can be the most complicated part of opening up your store to international sales.

One of the easiest ways to handle global orders is dropshipping, which means that you partner with a company in another country that handles all of your order fulfillment and shipping for you. However, depending on what and where you’re selling, this may or may not be a viable option.

If you need to ship your orders in-house, you’ll want to pay special attention to concerns like packaging guidelines, postage, duties, and other fees that may apply to international shipments.

If you’ve never shipped internationally before, it may be a good idea to start small by only adding one or two products to an international market – especially if you anticipate demand to be relatively high. This allows you to test the waters and get a sense of how things will go before jumping headfirst into international sales.

5. Localized Social Media

There’s not much use in selling internationally if you aren’t able to communicate with prospects and customers in your new market.

Whether it’s pre-purchase questions or post-purchase commentary and reviews, social media is an extremely common method of communication for today’s online consumer. If you’re opening up your product or service to a new country, it’s worth spending a bit of time considering how you can interact with them.

In many places, popular social networks are the same as those in the United States. For example, Facebook and Instagram are both very popular in India and surrounding countries. In fact, there are now more Facebook users in India than in the United States.

But in other countries, like Russia and China, for example, other popular local social networks may reach more of your target audience.

One easy way to leverage social media for quick access into a specific market is influencer marketing. You should do some research on the biggest social media accounts that use the most popular networks in your target country and demographic, and reach out to them about partnerships.

To establish your business as trustworthy in new markets, you can also use tools to automate specific post-purchase tasks, like posting recent sale notifications on your social media platforms. You should also add trust badges and security seals that your specific audience recognizes throughout your site.

For more information, see our guide on the “must-have” plugins for businesses looking to expand into international markets.

6. Location-Based Tax Calculations

You’ll want to be sure that you’re collecting and reporting the correct tax amounts and that you’re managing your tax compliance when you sell internationally. This can get a bit complicated, but with Stripe Tax and WP Simple Pay, you can automate sales tax, VAT, and GST effortlessly.

Depending on what countries you sell to, you might also be legally obliged to register with that country or jurisdiction to collect taxes. 

For more information, see our detailed guide on how to collect taxes for Stripe payments in WordPress.

Final Thoughts on International eCommerce

If your business has the resources available, it’s always a good idea to expand your potential customer base as widely as you can. Fortunately, in the modern era of eCommerce, it’s easier than ever before to serve a worldwide audience.

With all of that being said, doing business internationally isn’t always as simple as translating your site into a new language and changing a few options on your payment processor. This is especially true if you are selling a physical product that needs to be shipped to your customer’s doorstep.

The key points in this article are a good framework for getting started selling globally. However, you’ll still want to devote some time to researching and understanding the market in the specific places you’re looking to sell.

With WP Simple Pay, you can simplify at least two parts of the equation: Accepting payments in different currencies and collecting the correct tax amounts. Thanks to its integration with Stripe, your WordPress site can easily display prices and accept payments in dozens of different currencies.

There you have it! We hope this article has provided you with the key factors you’ll need to consider before globalizing your eCommerce business.

If you liked this article, you might also want to check out our guide on how to launch your products and services in a crowded market.

What are you waiting for? Get started with WP Simple Pay today!

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