Put the World in World Wide Web
Shore Up the Back End
If you communicate with global customers in their local language, you also must offer them the ability to purchase and make payment in their local currency. To create the most seamless transaction possible, engage the services of an international payment processor.
Also pay attention to your address and shipping templates. U.S. addresses generally can fit into five or six address lines. Foreign addresses often run six or seven lines. Since address formats are varied and complex, use a flexible storage format to ensure no information is omitted.
You also will need to address shipping options and returns handling. Some marketers choose to ship product directly from the United States, while others set up international distribution centers or outsource this function to regional vendors.
Both DePalma and Eustace advise marketers to start small and add content and functionality as needed. When retooling your site, says DePalma, “don’t look at it as a global issue. Look at it as a Web site suited to the particulars of the market you’re in. Once you realize this, [your project] scales back enormously.”
Of course, once you create a global platform that can support different character sets, date data, address formats, etc., you can add country or language-specific pages as needed.
“You can’t spread yourself too thin and be everything to everyone,” Eustace cautions. “Make it simple and functional.”
DePalma cites Lands’ End as an example of a company that has “done a good job understanding [its markets] and creating a Web platform that crosses borders quite nicely.”
The cataloger began by adding an Internet presence to support markets in which it already distributed a local-language version of its print catalog—Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. In late 2000, the cataloger used the Web as a springboard to three new markets—Italy, France and Ireland—by launching an e-commerce site for each without the support of a print vehicle, a first for the cataloger.