5 biggest hurdles in eCommerce and their solutions

5 biggest hurdles in eCommerce and their solutionsAccording to eMarketer, global B2C eCommerce is set to hit 2.3 trillion by 2018. It has made it easier for sellers anywhere in the world to sell their wares and get a fair chance to compete with the biggies in the business. It is fairly easy to set up an eCommerce website with little or no coding knowledge. Some even set up their website before they procure products to sell.

While selling within the city, state or country is common for eCommerce platforms, the true game of harnessing its power lies in catering to an international audience. In reality, your website can be accessed by anyone anywhere around the world. Shouldn’t you be able to sell to them too? From language barriers to tech issues, to fulfillment, there are quite a few things that are acting as hindrances preventing businesses from going global.

Here is a look at the top 5 reasons plaguing the eCommerce industry and solutions you can use to overcome these for your own business.

1. Speaking your customer’s language

Did you know that 60% of global consumers spend time on sites of their own native language than they do on English sites? If the site isn’t available in the local version, they might just boycott the site altogether. Language has a big implication for eCommerce websites. Not only do you need to provide an option for customers to view your site in local language, you need to run a site wide check to see none of your products or services have an offensive meaning in the local language.

Solution: Translation softwares are easily available in the market. Get your developer to embed that into your website so that the content can get easily viewed in the preferred regional language. What’s more important is that you hire a local language expert to run a content audit on the website to ensure things mean what they should and there isn’t any important message lost in translation. Nothing, however, beats humans doing the translation.

2. Tech infrastructure:

Does going international mean that you’ll need local hosting to speed things up? Having local servers for load balancing can tip the costs quite high and isn’t sometimes possible due to infrastructure limitations. Some markets require that you use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and geo-based load balancing servers to improve domestic site speed and reliability. So what’s the right solution?

Solution: The best solution will come from hiring a reliable turn-key vendor who provides dedicated IT resources and geo-load balancing as per what the situation demands. A client request from a particular geography can be directed either to a service node that is geographically closest to the client or to a node that has the most capacity. This allows us to optimize performance proactively.

3. Logistics and Fulfillment:

You may be all ready to ship your order overseas and even have potential clients waiting on you. In fact, according to a provider of international dispatch services, companies that ship overseas can increase their revenue by an average of 17% Fulfillment agencies are available too, more easily than before. Then what’s stopping companies from shipping internationally? A lot of times local government regulations are a problem. While some items are prohibited others need to abide by local expert laws. It is difficult for a company to keep track of each item for each country.

Solution: First, you’ll have to do the difficult task of picking out risky items and keep them out of being available in all countries. Second, you’ll have to choose the right fulfillment partner who is aware of local regulations and can even guide you to ensure you don’t violate any terms.

4. Local customer support:

So you have built a website in the local language for more sales. But is that enough? What happens when your customer reaches out to you via email or the ‘Contact us’ form on your website with a query or concern or help? Most of the time, websites are not equipped to handle this even though they have taken the effort to translate the content of the website into the local language. Most of the times, customers get back an auto-generated response, which of course does not make them happy. The risk here: Lose a hot lead or a loyal customer.

Solution: Start by having a vetted FAQ page in local language which is as detailed as possible to handle customer questions. Next, you’ll need to provide a local phone number where customers can reach you with local voice support. You’ll also need a real person replying to emails in real time.  These are people who are paying you money. So it’s best you don’t lose out because you fail to understand them clearly.

5. Preferred payment methods:

When eCommerce first launched in India, many people were apprehensive about shopping online because they didn’t think of credit cards as a secure way to transact online. Besides, digital penetration was low and not everyone had a credit card.

Solution: Though Cash on Delivery option was present earlier, it was popularized by Flipkart and soon other major eCommerce players followed suit tipping the entire eCommerce game in India. Five years after Flipkart launched this payment option, it contributed to 80% of its sales. It is important for eCommerce companies to understand nuances of the local market and provide payment options preferable to locals.

 Take away

International expansion is bound to bring whole new opportunities to eCommerce players by tapping new grounds for their products. With the right local partners who have understanding of local culture, politics, and customer expectations, it’ll be a sure shot way to build a global brand.