5 Themes for small e-commerce businesses in 2013 – Theme 5 – International Trade

In the fifth (Theme 5) and final blog in the series of 5 we examine the fifth theme from the Sagepay report on e-Commerce for 2013, PCI Compliance

For 2013 five themes were identified that small e-businesses should be focusing on right now. These are

  1. Social
  2. Mobile
  3. Fraud
  4. PCI Compliance
  5. International Trade

expanding overseas

We found approximately an equal number of small and large e-businesses currently trade overseas. Unsurprisingly the most popular countries are Germany, France and Spain as these are the fastest maturing e-commerce markets, after the UK.However, many high street and online retailers are struggling to transpose their e-businesses into overseas markets.

We asked respondents what they see as the key challenge to trading overseas. Delivery was the main sticking point across the board. More specifically, small e-businesses also cited international fraud as a concern. Whereas the pain-point for larger e-businesses was import/export requirements.

So what are the secrets to successful international growth?

entering the great unknown

1. Current Orders

Look at where current orders are coming from and begin by focusing on these markets

2. International e-commerce doesnt always mean doing business in a foreign language

You can offer multiple currencies on your site and still only offer English versions of your product information and pages.

3. Do your research and make sure you understand the market differences

For example, in Germany, it’s a legal requirement that all returns are free so high return rates are not unusual.

4. Expanding overseas and fulfilling orders from start to finish can be tricky

You’ll need to get to grips with the nuances of local taxation, delivery and customer service.

5. Knowing who you are shipping to limits your risk of fraud

In addition, understanding the geographical location, the debit or credit card origination and fraud rating on each transaction will further reduce risk.

A Recipe for small business success

So what separates the winners from the losers in small business e-commerce? Well, you’ll not be surprised to hear that there is no single magic bullet. However, comparing those who convert at over 6% with those that fall short, four critical differences appear

1. Successful ebusinesses are more likely to spend on social media and advertorials and less on pay-per-click More successful small e-businesses spend under 10% on marketing. Surprisingly, greater spend does not seem to equateto greater success. It’s about how you spend it.

2. More successful small ebusinesses offer next day delivery

Today’s customers want their purchases right now. If that’s not possible, they’ll settle for tomorrow.

3. More successful small ebusinesses ensure customers can complete their transactions in three pages or less

Again, the all-pervasive desire for instant gratification means that customers are simply unwilling to wade through page after page to buy what they want. The less you put in their way, the more likely they are to complete a transaction. But be warned, trying to cram everything onto just one page can be cluttered and confusing for customers.

4. More successful small ebusinesses use standard, co-branded payment pages

This seems to be a feature of being a small e-business as the position is reversed for large e-businesses. It’s likely that this is because the use of the payment provider’s branding offers customers a level of reassurance when dealing with a lesswell known brand. However, make sure you add your logo as well. Of course, following the above is no guarantee of success. E-business is a dynamic, ever-changing environment. One minute Twitter is hailed as the way to drive business, a minute later it’s all about Pinterest. However, when we look at the data, the differences between above and below average performance comes down to doing a few things better than the competition. Ultimately this is what tips the balance.

7 things to do right now

You’ve read the report, you know you can do better – so what should be on your to-do list tomorrow morning?

1. Ensure youre PCI compliant

It’s not as difficult as you may think and failure could lead to dire consequences

2. Focus on Conversions

Where are customers dropping out? What can you do to tune every part of the purchase to maximise its effectiveness?

3. Use co-branded payment pages

Unless you have built a strong brand and have many repeat purchases, the research shows that un-customised payment pages deliver higher conversions.

4. Limit Losses to Fraud

Ensure you have the systems in place and match them with a healthy dose of paranoia

5. Explore other markets

Every e-business can be global virtually from day one, look at which additional markets you can serve to expand your reach (and your profits).

6. Get Mobile Savvy

If you think that mobile isn’t for you, think again. The opportunities are there as our large business respondentshave shown us. So make sure you’re not left out of the mobile race.

7. Get smart about your marketing

As a small business, you’ll need to keep track of every penny so make sure you’re only paying for what works. It doesn’t have to be all spend, spend, spend. Think about free channels such as social media to drive traffic to your site and increase customer loyalty – it works.

And finally the advert

about sage pay

Sage Pay is a division of FTSE 100 business software company Sage. It is Europe’s leading independent payment service provider (PSP) and is one of the most trusted e-commerce brands.

Sage Pay processes millions of secure payments for its 40,000 customers each year and makes the process of accepting payments simpler, faster, safer and more profitable for businesses of all sizes.