E-commerce and trust: It is time to think more about localisation

By Scott Heimes

Ofcom announced in a recent report that online spending is up 16 percent per person in 2012 compared to 2011, rising from £1,017 to £1,175, which is double the average spend per head of other countries in the survey.  For the first time, it investigated why online shopping is so popular in the UK and found that ‘trust’ is central to consumer spending habits.

The survey, which compared 17 countries, found that 83 percent of UK consumers trusted online retailers to send the correct item, compared to only 64 percent of consumers in Japan and 68 percent in Italy.   80 percent also trusted the way products were advertised in the UK, compared to only 48 percent in Japan.

Ecommerce expert, Digital River, believes that online retailers need to localise their sites more effectively to secure this lucrative consumer trust.

Ofcom’s findings that the level of online spending increases with the level of consumer trust, is no surprise. It only serves to emphasise the need for retailers to build good rapport with their customers. The internet has made it easier for firms to sell globally. To secure customer loyalty and online spend, however, companies need to show they can meet the cultural, regional and personal purchase preferences of shoppers.

In today’s infinitely connected world, competition is plentiful and customers have many options. Failure to properly localise an e-commerce shopping experience can dramatically reduce sales and can result in cart abandonment as customers become frustrated and untrusting due to unfamiliar and unconventional practices. To be successful, the point of sale must align with your customers’ expectations for design and layout, transaction flow and checkout process, as well as language and currency choices, promotional offers, and customer service options. Adjustments must also be made to ensure smooth execution of functions such as product fulfilment and compliance with export regulations.

To be a master of operating a global business but securing the trust of local customers, merchants have to evaluate their goals for each new geography they enter and make a business decisions about the right approach to take. Failure to localise for each region can result in a sales loss of 30 percent or more. Companies that get it right, however, will be able to capitalise on the growing generation of online shoppers, wherever they may be.

About the author

Scott Heimes is CMO at Digital River.


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