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Are you geared up for a world of growth?

Overseas trade is big business. In June 2011, HMRC stated that the value of UK goods exported to Member States of the EU so far this year stood at a staggering £66.3billion(1)

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Are you geared up for a world of growth?

For online retailers particularly, international markets represent great opportunity. While online retail in the UK remains strong, with spending estimated to reach some £21.3billion by the close of the year2, trading internationally can provide access to a huge number of potential new customers.

Naturally, many online retailers are currently gearing up for life that includes a strong presence on foreign shores - and reaping the rewards as a result. UK retailer ASOS, for instance, reported in April this year that its international sales had risen by 161%, outstripping its performance in the UK(2) for the first time in its 11-year history.

Options and opportunity
With a bigger market comes bigger opportunity. But expansion also poses its own set of challenges. Any retailer developing an international presence will need to be ready for the trials that everything from distribution to marketing will bring.

The ability to get paid is a big part of that puzzle. From cross-border payment methods to marketing in different languages, a heightened threat of card fraud to the risk of rejecting good transactions, there are a range of considerations to take into account.

At the same time, presenting consumers with a choice of ways to pay is essential to ongoing success, and experiences of the UK market don’t always translate overseas. While credit and debit cards remain the most popular methods for online payment here for instance, on the continent, the landscape is more fragmented. From WebMoney in Russia to iDEAL in the Netherlands, AliPay in China to bank transfers in Germany, online payment preferences vary by border.

WorldPay have found that accommodating those different ways to pay can have a major impact on sales. Even the simple act of moving from one to two or three payment methods can improve conversion rates by as much as 10%. If you’re looking to be a truly pan-European retailer, then opening your business up to a variety of payments is near enough essential.

Speaking the same language
Of course, providing multiple ways to pay means very little if customers aren’t able to confidently navigate around your store. While not every customer you’ll deal with will expect to find your website or store presented in their native language, they are much more likely to engage with your site if they do. Indeed, research suggests that web shoppers are four times more likely to purchase from a site that bears their mother tongue(3).

Fortunately, making that multilingual store a reality doesn’t need to be a time-intensive headache. Working with the right payment services provider can provide access to comprehensive localisation services, allowing you to present pages, payment options and currencies in a format that overseas customers will instantly identify with.

Reducing risk
Tackling fraud is a priority for any online retailer, international or not. Doing business across borders doesn’t necessarily equate to a heightened fraud risk, but it can make spotting and countering it tougher. Just as local markets operate differently, so too do fraudsters.
With some estimates suggesting that online retail fraud will grow by 18% by 2015(4), establishing an ‘acceptable’ rate of fraud is key for anyone trading across the globe. Losses must be balanced against the cost of accepting and reviewing payments. Here, risk management modules come into their own, allowing retailers to automatically check and block suspected fraudulent transactions.

Finding a partner for payments
Making payment as smooth and customer friendly as possible is essential for any online retailer looking to compete globally. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and retailers need to adapt and react to the specifics of their marketplace. Finding a partner that can support you through all of the areas above should be a priority.

1 https://www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm?task=euearlypub
2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13060518
3 www.idc.com
4 http://www.paypoint.net/new-payments-report

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