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Unlocking international or cross-border sales has never been as lucrative as it is today.

Historically, shipping costs, lack of trust and limited information were factors in preventing growth in trade but now cross-border shopping is estimated to be worth $105bn.

While this is a huge growth area for ecommerce businesses, several obstacles still prevent online customers from comfortably venturing outside their borders and buying from international retailers.

Challenges often involve language or currency difficulties, logistics, restrictive local laws, or unclear product information.

However, personalising the shopping experience is one method you can use to increase revenues, allowing you to engage users on their own terms, provide them with the best information and take advantage of local opportunities.

So how do you get started? Read on for five of the best ways to make personalisation part of your international online strategy.

1. Make your visitors at home 

The second a new visitor hits your site, you have the chance to introduce your brand and push your USPs.

For international visitors, this is also an opportunity to let them know how you operate in their territory, inform them of delivery options, nearby help centres and provide any other useful information.  

Topshop, for example, used a section in its top banner to show international visitors different offers and information relevant to their location.

Just as you should not assume that everyone who visits your site speaks English, it is a mistake to assume that everyone is familiar with the same sizing or technical information.

Providing your own comparative size guide will prevent customers from abandoning the purchase due to lack of information.

2. Target users with relevant products for their location

As you gather more data about your visitors and their shopping behaviour, you will be able to ascertain what products or categories are most popular.

You can use this information to target users from different areas, adapting your site to bring the most popular products to the front.

As your personalisation becomes more sophisticated, you can supplement this information with visitor history data to target users based on past purchases or activity. 

3. Highlight local payment methods and other helpful information

Information about local payment methods, shipping charges, returns procedure and local customer service is invaluable to visitors landing on your site for the first time, particularly if they are from another country.

Being open and transparent in this way builds trust, overcoming one of the major barriers to cross-border trading.

DFS, for example, caters to French visitors by displaying an information layer giving them relevant, localised information about delivery in France.

Ideally, customers should not need to scour the site looking for the information they need – it should be at their fingertips. 

4. Detect local currency, or offer currency conversion

Visitors from the Eurozone are going to be put off by prices in dollars, so you need to make it as easy as possible for users to convert prices into their local currency.

Embedding currency conversion or prices in multiple currencies serves to provide a simplified shopping experience and removes any related barriers to conversion.

The simplest solution is to offer a currency converter tool on your product pages. Using IP detection, you can offer conversion to a visitor’s native currency when an international visitor comes to your site.

5. Create smart landing pages for different users

As you gather more data and spot more opportunities, you can start to create dynamic landing pages for different user segments.

With visitor data, you can spot patterns and adapt elements on your page to promote more relevant items based on what is in a customer’s basket.

Jet 2, for example, uses historical user data to automatically fill in information on journeys that visitors have previously searched for.

For more on this topic, download Econsultancy's Best Practice Guide for International SEO.

Ian McCaig

Published 29 July, 2014 by Ian McCaig

Ian McCaig is Founder at Qubit and a contributor to Econsultancy.

29 more posts from this author

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