Think Payment Complexity Is A Barrier To Going Global? Think Again

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Braintree’s Klas Beck tells us why enabling ecommerce and mobile payments could help take your business global

Globalisation gives start-ups rapid access to the world’s largest markets and deepest pockets – dramatically increasing potential for growth. Global ecommerce sales are expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2016, an increase of 14 percent since 2012, according to Deloitte Digital. Getting into the game today means hitting the ground with an understanding of how to scale quickly.

In theory, it should be simple. Consumers are consumers the world over, right? In practice, however, launching e-commerce in foreign countries does raise questions.

Where should I expand, and in what order?

© Franck Boston - Fotolia.comUltimately, the decision to expand internationally boils down to two primary factors: will my product fit that market (or can it be adjusted to do so); and, how well is a given country positioned to grab hold of mobile shopping.

Point one is about taking time to learn about product trends around the world. Gather as much data as you can about who’s buying what, and where.

On point two, mobile shopping represents the fastest way to get in front of the largest possible cross-section of global customers. PayPal’s research into global mobile shopping trends found that China, UAE and Turkey were on top. In these markets, more than 50 percent of online shoppers said they’ve bought online via a Smartphone in the past 12 months.

How do I make it frictionless and familiar for customers?

There are a number of rough patches unique to the international environment that need to be tackled

  • Currency Consistency. A customer can get confused, or even abandon a purchase if he or she sees prices listed in an unfamiliar currency. Be sure to set your site to operate in the right currency for each customer.
  • Tax Compatibility. Beyond various regulations for international trade whether tariffs, duties, taxes, banned products and shipping rules, knowing the native tax code and legal points is vital for appearing familiar. It’s almost like speaking the language; if you fail to work within known parameters and disclosure requirements, it can lead to suspicion and decrease buyer comfort.
  • Mobile is King. In most countries the incidence of smartphone shopping via an app is higher than doing so via a browser. As a final step to reduce friction, you need to be thinking in terms of an app strategy in addition to ensuring mobile browser functionality.

What cultural issues do I need to know about?

Culturally, there are a few tenets to live by:

  • “Know what not to sell.”
  • “Know your cultural holidays.”
  • “Do business as business is done.”

Every culture has its own set of taboos and customs and some can lead to opportunities. In Israel, it is customary to bring a gift when invited to someone’s house for a holiday meal. Promoting these kind of items online in lead up to holidays could lead to boosted sales.

Going global is not as difficult as it may seem. There are a number of perceived complexities to cross-border commerce but, when you really dig into it, that’s they really are: perceptions. If you launch your business with the right foresight, strategic priorities, technology partners and tools in hand, going global is no more complex than sticking to domestic markets; the upside of exposing your business to exponentially more lucrative markets far outweighs the risk.

Klas Back is general manager of international and payment strategy at Braintree

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