• Deciding on your Domain strategy is a necessary step to take. Investing in a local .de or .cn Top Level Domain (TLD) will mean your site looks more trustworthy but it will mean you lose all of your domain authority built up in your .co.uk or .com website and will have to grow your new site up from scratch costing time and money. Consider Amazon currently operates 14 country specific TLD’s but in 2014 shipped to customers in 185 different countries.
  • Displaying your products on the right Marketplaces can offer high traffic and a localized customer experience that would require significant investment to achieve on a single company site. In some countries like China marketplaces account for >90% of all ecommerce sales and are a cost effective way to test markets, particularly in the early stages.

Localization is an easy word to use but knowing which elements to focus on can be difficult. The following areas are offered as those to focus on in order to improve conversion the most and generate new sales:

  • Conversion rates can increase dramatically by offering the popular in-country payment methods for example Alipay in China or MultiBanco in Portugal. Consider as well Middle Eastern consumers will frequently (approx. 60%) pay Cash on Delivery (COD) giving rise to significant operational challenges. This lends weight to the marketplace option mentioned earlier as they support all the relevant payment methods including COD and are a high trust environment for consumers.


  • Invest in your translation with the ROI firmly in mind. Google translate and similar services are an option but the the results may not be acceptable. Focus paid translation on the key product descriptions and other high traffic areas of your site first with additional spend dependent on the incremental benefits. Don’t forget to translate your product URL’s as well to include strategic keywords in the directory structure or filename to improve your Search results.
  • The levels of Customer Service both pre and post sale differs considerably across countries and having local support either on the phone or on live chat will increase conversion rates. The costs of supporting this element can easily grow beyond initial expectations especially in markets such as China that require considerable human support especially in the pre sale stage on the popular messaging apps Weibo and WeChat.
  • ‘’What about the Returns?’’ It’s the question that always comes up and large regional fluctuations exist which will affect pricing. The highly competitive UK market offers free returns as standard but that is not the case across the world and in many countries the customer will bear the cost. Other options exist like some marketplaces will take on your returns for a lightly higher commission fee and many service providers are able to offer you a return warehouse in every country and will manage a local re-sale or return to UK depending on the economics.
  • Selling your products in a country where there is no domestic awareness is challenging and an assessment will be needed in terms of the marketing spend that can be committed and the on-going re-investment of revenue back into marketing on the back of successful trading.


  • The relevant country specific shopping days, national holidays and other gifting opportunities are considerations in the marketing campaign cycles and can considerably impact shopping patterns. A recent example is the 2015 Alibaba Singles day sale which generated $14.3Bn in 24 hours. Merchants who were not offering sufficient discount stock were excluded from the promotion and additionally in order to be included in the promotion merchants had to be physically holding the stock in China. Companies start planning their inventory 6 months in advance of Singles day in order to cope with such a large spike in sales.


  • Logistic capabilities and the delivery timelines that merchants are able to achieve is important and again large regional differences exist. Customers in China, especially Tier 1 cities, will typically cancel an order if its not received within 1 week but customers in SE Asia will wait up to 3 weeks for an order in more remote locations as long as their expectations are set appropriately at the time of purchase. Countries like New Zealand are closer than you may think with cost efficient air freight meaning short delivery times of 3 days are achievable.


  • Intellectual property and trademark protection is an area that companies are always concerned about as the necessary steps are often complex, time consuming and the costs can mount up. Registering your trademarks with the UK Intellectual Property office (IPO) allows you to then lodge your trademarks with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) covering up to 120 countries using the Madrid system.
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