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Improving Your International Checkout Experience

By: Adam Coyle
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While the idea of international shopping is certainly nothing new, many ecommerce businesses still find they’re having issues with cart abandonment, especially from international customers.

If this sounds familiar, read on to learn how you can identify and solve the process problems in your global commerce solution that may be causing this. For example, frustrating checkout experiences create friction for shoppers, leading to lost sales and a poor experience.

What should you expect from an international checkout solution?

Before looking into the pain points and possible fixes, it’s important to understand exactly what both you and your customers should expect from an international checkout solution.

Put simply, an international checkout solution is a service or software designed to streamline the online shopping experience for customers located outside of a business’s domestic market. It aims to address the specific challenges of selling internationally, such as:

  • Support with Currency Conversion: An international checkout solution should allow customers to view prices and pay in their preferred currency, removing any confusion and potential surprise costs. The conversion process is handled seamlessly behind the scenes.
  • Local Payment Methods Accepted: Integration with popular payment methods specific to different regions, like local card networks and digital wallets, increase payment acceptance and convenience for international buyers.
  • Tax, Compliance and Duty Calculations Made Simple: Automatic calculation and display of any applicable tax and duties at checkout. This ensures compliance, offers transparency, and avoids perceived hidden costs that can lead to cart abandonment.
  • More Shipping Options and Better Rates: Various logistics and shipping options with accurate and transparent pricing based on the destination. This means customers are free to choose the service that best suits their budget and requirements.
  • Language Localization: Some international checkout solutions provide features for translating the customer’s experience into different languages, adapting the interface and messaging to local preferences.
  • Returns and Refunds Managed: Simplified returns and refunds process for international customers, addressing concerns about risk and encouraging cross-border purchases.
  • Advanced Features: Some checkout solutions – if you’re in the position to invest more – offer additional features, including fraud protection, currency hedging, and international marketing tools to help businesses manage risks and grow their global reach.

An international checkout solution helps businesses create a seamless and familiar shopping experience for international customers, boosting conversions and building trust. It simplifies the process for both buyers and sellers, paving the way for successful cross-border ecommerce.

Learn how Digital River can support your global payments, tax, fraud-protection, and compliance needs as a Merchant of Record.

Who benefits from a streamlined international checkout experience?

Now that you’re clear on what should be included in a customized international checkout solution, let’s dive into who benefits from an effective implementation:

Ecommerce Businesses

By removing purchasing barriers for international customers, businesses can tap into  new markets and boost their revenue and sales of digital services and physical products. Streamlining the checkout process and addressing common concerns like currency confusion and hidden costs can significantly reduce cart abandonment and lead to more completed purchases.

Offering a smooth and localized checkout experience builds trust and loyalty with international consumers – whether B2C or B2B customers – creating a positive brand image and fostering repeat business. Tax and duty calculations, accurate shipping rates, and streamlined returns management can save businesses time and resources compared to manual processes.

International Customers

A good checkout solution simplifies the buying process, making it easy and familiar for international customers to purchase from foreign businesses. Clear pricing, accurate cost breakdowns, and familiar payment options build trust and confidence in international transactions.

No longer limited by local offerings, customers gain access to a wider range of products and brands from around the world. International checkout solutions can facilitate price comparisons and potentially lead to more competitive prices due to increased competition.

Payment Providers

Partnering with international checkout solutions allows payment providers to access a wider customer base and increase their transaction volume.

Offering international payment options helps diversify revenue streams and mitigate risk associated with relying solely on domestic markets. Collaborating with ecommerce businesses and checkout-solution providers can lead to the development of new and innovative payment solutions catering to international transactions.

Logistics Providers

International checkout solutions can drive demand for cross-border shipping services, benefiting logistics providers and expanding their market reach. Integration with checkout solutions can automate tasks like label generation and customs clearance, improving efficiency and reducing costs for logistics providers.

Access to data on international shipping trends and customer preferences can help optimize logistics services and cater to specific market needs.

The key points of friction for international checkout

Here are the key pain points to identify and address when implementing an international checkout solution.

  • Confusion with Currency:Customers may be unfamiliar with your default displayed currency, leading to confusion and potentially higher perceived costs if they aren’t given the option to view prices in their own currency.
  • Hidden Costs and Transparency:Unexpected taxes, shipping charges, and customs fees at checkout can create sticker shock, the feeling of being misled, and, ultimately, cart abandonment.
  • Limited Payment Methods:If you limit your payment options, your solution can become incompatible with local preferences, which is likely to reduce the likelihood of conversion.
  • Language Barrier:Interfaces without translation options or clear, relevant instructions can cause customer frustration and mistrust in the purchasing process.
  • Complex Shipping Information:If delivery timeframes are unclear, you have limited options, or are seen to lack transparency with associated shipping costs, which will often deter international buyers.
  • Clarity on Returns and Refunds:If your refunds and returns policy is seen as too complicated, this creates a perception of risk, which can discourage people from proceeding with the checkout process.

Strategies for seamless international checkout

Now that you’re aware of what to avoid, let’s take a look at some tips to ensure you’re providing international customers with a great purchasing experience.

Embrace Transparency

Make sure all of the information customers are looking for is easily accessible and simple to understand.

  • Offer multiple currency options with live conversion rates to avoid confusion.
  • Clearly display all taxes, duties, and shipping charges upfront, before checkout.
  • Integrate local payment methods like digital wallets and popular regional providers.
  • Provide accurate and realistic delivery timeframes based on the destination.
  • Offer a clear and customer-friendly returns policy with easy-to-follow instructions.

Think Locally, Checkout Globally

If you’re looking to sell to a specific region or market, ensure that you can implement appropriate language options and messaging.

  • Translate your entire website and checkout process into the languages of your target markets.
  • Consider local customs and preferences when designing your checkout interface and visuals.
  • Tailor your marketing messages and promotions to resonate with international audiences.

Remove Unnecessary Friction in the Checkout Process

When customers feel that getting through your checkout process is tricky or difficult to understand, they will likely look elsewhere.

  • Allow guest checkout options to minimize barriers to purchase.
  • Offer the ability to save shipping and billing information for future purchases.
  • Ensure your checkout process is optimized for mobile devices, as many international customers shop on their phones.
  • Clearly show customers their progress throughout the checkout process, building trust and reducing anxiety.
  • Offer multilingual customer support options during checkout to promptly address concerns.

Build Trust and Loyalty

Showcase why people should shop with you. Make them feel valued and share positive experiences from previous customers.

  • Spotlight positive reviews and testimonials from international customers to build trust and credibility.
  • Integrate social media badges and reviews from international platforms to reinforce your brand reputation.
  • Offer loyalty programs and targeted promotions for international customers to encourage repeat purchases.
  • Partner with local influencers and bloggers to reach your target audience in their preferred channels.
  • Stay connected with international customers through regular communication, updates, and promotions.

Taking your international checkout to the next level

By addressing the challenges of international checkout and implementing these strategies, ecommerce businesses can unlock a world of new customers and revenue potential.

Focusing on transparency, localization, and building trust to offer a frictionless experience, you can create a seamless international shopping process that converts visitors into loyal global advocates for your brand. Remember, selling across borders starts with getting the checkout process right.

Contact us today to find out more about how to improve your international checkout experience to ensure happy customers and seamless conversion. Learn more about ecommerce strategy and get regular industry updates via Digital River’s Ecommerce Resources.