You’ve grown your business to a strong footing in your home market, made a name for yourself and seen sales grow and grow. The next steps for most businesses is to look overseas, going cross-border and expand into international markets.

Luckily, the digital world removes the physical barriers of doing business right across the globe. Previously, retailers would have needed to set up an entire international offices and operations. Now, it can be done with a few clicks (and some careful planning, of course!).

Peak sales periods, in particular, are seeing huge growth in cross-border sales. Black Friday in 2018 saw international sales rise 73%, while Cyber Monday saw 71% jump. The leader, though, was Singles’ Day with an incredible 89% rise in cross-border sales as it becomes more popular across Europe, having made its way from Asia.

Consumers are turning to overseas retailers in search of exciting and unique products they can’t find in their home markets, especially for gifts during the festive period.

The gap between domestic and overseas sales is closing during these busy peak sales periods. In 2017, there was a 70% difference between the two. But last year, that fell to just 20%.

Interestingly, the UK is particular inward-looking when it comes to where they like to make purchases. Favouring the brands they know and are based in the UK, less than 5% of shoppers prefer to purchase from overseas retailers. Belgium, on the other hand, is happy to look elsewhere and actively prefers it with nearly 50% favouring retailers in other countries compared to just 25% who prefer the domestic market.

Make it personal, make it local

While online shopping channels make it possible for consumers to shop with overseas brands, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to. Retailers need to act on their ability to sell in overseas markets and offer the same level of personalisation as they do in their home country. And that means localisation.

Providing a multilingual website is an essential first step. In an incredibly crowded retail market, shoppers are not willing to accept any difficulties in the purchasing journey. Even if they happen to have a decent grasp of the language, realistically, if a website doesn’t translate to their language they are going to head to another one that does. Every aspect of a retailer’s website, from landing page, to product page, to delivery and returns, to checkout needs to be accessible in a range of languages to give international shoppers the confidence they need in their purchase.

Payments are payments, right? Everyone uses debit or credit cards, everyone has a Visa or Mastercard, right? Wrong.

Retailers need to understand that consumers in each market have their own purchasing habits. With 42% of consumers ditching a purchase if they can’t use their preferred method of payment, it’s essential to offer a range of options. Although they may be common in the UK, less than 15% of German and Dutch shoppers use credit cards, for instance. Even where card payments are used, they are increasingly becoming used through digital wallets such as PayPal or apps like Apple Pay. Although retailers can entice international customers with unique products and keep them interested with a translated and tailored website, it will all be for nothing if they don’t identify and implement local payment methods.

Keep it secure

Consumers in mainland Europe are particularly concerned about security when making purchases online. Payment security was the top worry for French consumers when buying from international retailers. After affordability, it was also the biggest concern for Dutch and Spanish shoppers.

Retailers need to ensure they have a fully functioning and secure website and payments system to really gain the trust of international consumers. Gaining their trust will not only ensure a first purchase, but encourage and engage future purchases.

These insights are based upon Ingenico’s ‘Preparing for Christmas this Summer’ e-book. You can download the full e-book here.

Originally posted on the Great British Entrepreneur Awards website.