Global Ecommerce

Global Ecommerce

Understanding where your customers are coming from

Gregg Zegras, Senior Vice President, Global Ecommerce, Pitney Bowes

As anyone who travels internationally can attest, it can be quite startling to assimilate into an unfamiliar culture. From asking directions, to hailing at taxi, to ordering a cup of coffee, it can be a challenge adapting to the language, protocol and culture of a country that’s not your home.

One of the most common mistakes ecommerce retailers make is presenting international visitors with a site experience that mirrors their domestic traffic. To truly welcome the world to your website and keep shoppers engaged long enough make a purchase, you need to respect the various paths visitors take to arrive at your door. The better you can target and understand your customer’s locale, the better you can convert them into loyal consumers.

So how do you begin? The question of where your customers are coming from is more complex than simple geography. To truly understand how to address international customers’ needs, there are three important questions to be asking about every visitor that enters your site:

1. What device are they using?  According to our Global Online Shopping Study, Chinese consumers are open to buying goods on mobile devices, but consumers in countries like Japan and Russia far prefer to shop on laptops or desktop computers. Mobile customers are often on the run and may have limited time for browsing. So if your visitors suddenly abandon their shopping cart, it doesn’t mean they won’t be back, nor does it necessarily reflect the quality of your products or how international-friendly your site is. However, if you see a trend in cart abandonment among desktop customers who are usually more serious about shopping, it may be worth a closer look.

2. Where are they coming from?  Take a look at how each of your website visitors found you. Did they simply type your address into Google? That indicates familiarity with your brand even though the customer may appear “new” in your analytics. Did they arrive through a paid campaign or through social media? What keyword or image attracted the customer? The answers to these questions may help you better engage with your customers and make them more active within your brand.

3. What geographic area did they come from?  Customer geography is important but it involves more than simply knowing what countries your visitors are coming from. To match your site experience to your real customers, it’s critical that you understand the dynamics at play within those countries. According to our Study, the majority of consumers in Russia (78 percent), China and the U.S. (both 76 percent) are likely to purchase products from online marketplaces, while consumers in Australia (81 percent), the U.K. (72 percent) and Canada (71 percent) are most likely to buy products directly from a retailer’s web site. Some shoppers may be wary of ecommerce; others may not even know they can purchase from retailers outside of their home country.

Do you have a low conversion rate in a certain country? It may have more to do with the preferences of customers there than with your site, but the analysis can help you tailor your site to better answer those preferences. Running a serious segmentation engine can help. 

By answering these questions, you can stop guessing and start analysing how well your site is working based upon the needs of your customers. Once you uncover where your visitors are coming from, you can work to ensure that your prospective visitors turn into loyal customers. 

To learn more about the buying preferences and habits of ecommerce consumers around the world, download  the Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study Report.

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