Internet-How to Avoid Cross-cultural Minefields (1,353 words)
Transactional Challenges: While credit card companies promote their cards as being accepted globally, this
doesn't mean consumers in these countries use these credit cards as a standard form of currency. Given cultural and economic obstacles to traditional credit card purchases, be prepared to sell products using bank transfers and letters of credit. The Internet has spawned the return of COD (cash on delivery) services in many countries.
Forms and Templates: Research shows that 40 percent to 60 percent of international sales requests in the United States are refused because the user was unable to correctly enter the information to complete the transaction. When designing address or shipping templates, use the proper conventions of that country. Something as simple as making a five-digit zip code (for U.S customers) a required field on a form or template could disqualify most of the world from buying your product.
Search engine tags: Many of the visitors to your site will enter via international search engine results. Design your site such that searches in various languages will result in your site being recognized as a hit. Have your designers include meta tags that include a variety of key words translated into multiple languages that relate to a typical search your own goods or services.
Center of Gravity: Some of the fiercest battles in history have been waged between the headquarters office and the local subsidiaries on advertising and marketing control issues. Developing a globally branded Web site sensitive to the nuances of local culture that also has a direct, local e-commerce accountability factor will raise the political stakes even higher. Expanding your e-commerce strategy to accommodate international transactions creates enormous revenue opportunities. The Internet truly is a one-to-one interactive medium, and in-country competition is growing by the second, making the window for establishing the global relationship based on first impressions very narrow. Only those who are able to balance global brand equity with cross-cultural sensitivity can expect to reap the rewards of this revolution.