9 Ways to Improve Conversion Rate of Your International Store

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Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny



In 2020, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars. They are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars in 2022.

Group looking at ecommerce site that's been optimized for international visitors

To tap into this global market, you need to consider your international customer base. The good news is the demands of these customers will be almost identical to local customers: they want to read content in their preferred language, check out in a currency they’re familiar with, and understand the shipping options, fees, and product restrictions based on their location. If you meet these needs, you’re more likely to convert and retain customers, no matter where they’re located.

In this post, we’re going to look at what steps you can take to improve the conversion rate of your international store.

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1. Provide store translations for all potential customers.

The key to creating and running a successful international ecommerce store is multilingual content.

That’s because the ecommerce market is dominated by multiple countries, including China, the United States, the UK, South Korea, and Japan. In fact, China is expected to generate 2.7 trillion dollars in ecommerce in 2021. Given the astronomical numbers associated with China’s ecommerce market, you’re leaving money on the table by keeping your site monolingual.

It’s important to understand that you don’t want to restrict your choice of translations to one language per country. Like English for the US and UK, Korean for South Korea, Japanese for Japan, and so on. Instead, you’ll want to consider the demographics of the countries whose markets you want to penetrate.

For example, Japan is home to Japanese, Korean, and Chinese people, as well as people of Brazillian, Peruvian, and Filipino descent.

So your goal is not to translate your store into just one language, but to provide translations for everyone within your target audience, no matter whether they’re a majority or minority. Airbnb, for example, allows users to select a language and region on their site.

Conversion rate optimization: Airbnb website supports multiple languages and regions

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2. Use culturally-specific product imagery.

To attract and convert international visitors, try using specific products, imagery, and wording that’s used or based on the cultural norms in that region. Here’s an example from Apple Music’s website.

Conversion rate optimization: Apple Music uses different images for different locations

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It’s important to consider regional differences when making other decisions as well, like picking a color scheme. For example, Pepsi reportedly lost its dominant share of the beverage market in at least one southeast Asian country in the 1950s after changing its vending machines and coolers from a deep regal blue to light ice blue. Why? Because light blue is associated with death in that region.

It’s these types of cultural differences that matter and will affect your bottom line.

3. Apply the correct currency per country.

One frustrating aspect that lots of international customers face is seeing currencies in a non-native format. For example, if a site defaults to US Dollars (USD) and provides no other (or inaccessible) options, it gives users the extra task of converting the price to another currency. Some users may abandon their cart at this point.

To help prevent customers from leaving your site, you can provide them an option to switch the currency, like boohoo does below.

Conversion rate optimization: bohoo allows users to select different currencies

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4. Present multiple payment options based on the country.

Not only do you want to display the right currency for the group you’re targeting, you also want to provide their preferred payment options.

While each country has one official currency, many ecommerce stores offer payment options in different currencies in order to convert customers from different parts of the world. For example, the Swiss email provider Protonmail offers three currency types: The Swiss Franc, Euro, and US Dollar.

Conversion rate optimization: Protonmail offers three currency types

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5. Be transparent about customs fees and duties.

In 2021, about half of U.S. consumers who abandoned their online purchases during the checkout process in the past three months backed out due to additional costs, such as shipping, taxes, or fees.

Statistic: Main reasons why consumers in the United States abandoned their orders during the checkout process in 2021 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

That’s why it’s crucial to be transparent about any customs and duties charges that international customers will incur. It may be tempted to hide these fees since they inflate the cost of your product — but it’s best to be upfront to maintain the customer’s trust.

After all, if you help a visitor navigate the sometimes murky waters of shipping charges, they could be more willing to repay your efforts. It’s arguably better to lose one sale through high shipping, customs, and duties charges than to lose the whole Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) through shady, hidden practices.

6. Offer clear international delivery information.

As with customs fees and duties, you should clearly state your shipping and delivery policy for international visitors. When setting your policy, keep these important stats in mind:

  • Lots of customers don’t mind paying extra for same-day shipping.
  • Fast shipping is important to the consumer and is considered same- or next-day delivery.
  • Two days is the cutoff for what a customer is willing to wait for “fast shipping.”

The bottom line: be transparent and honest about shipping and deliveries so you set the right expectations for your local and international visitors. Ebay is one company that gets this right:

Conversion rate optimization: Ebay clearly states shipping options by location

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7. Understand product restrictions based on specific regions.

Various countries have different import and export criteria, and this is something you’ll have to know in order to succeed within a specific region.

For example, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency has a list of items that cannot be brought into the country. If your product line includes any of these, you’ll want to clearly state this to your potential US customers.

For more popular ecommerce store niches such as clothing, this isn’t going to be an issue in most cases. Though, there are some restrictions in place for “embargoed” countries, or areas where there is a political ban on trade (such as Cuba for the US). If your product lines come from an embargoed area, you’ll have more potential issues in getting products to customers.

8. Use automatic country redirections and a well-placed language switcher.

Although you may have a number of localization elements in place to help customers use your site in their own language and currency, they still need to find the right site. To help, you can implement automatic redirection to a local side based on the customer’s geographic location. Or you can provide the customer a way to select their language manually. A language switcher is a great solution since it can trigger the redirect to the desired localized site.

You can implement this in a few ways. Adobe, for example, provides a mega menu of languages:

Conversion rate optimization: Adobe offers mega menu language switcher

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Or you can offer a more svelte switcher that sits in the corner of the browser window, like on Weglot:

Conversion rate optimization: Weglot offers language switcher

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9. Localize other marketing collateral.

To maximize your localization efforts, think beyond your website. For example, Domino’s has a “hyper-local” set of landing pages for specific regions within a country:

Conversion rate optimization: Dominos offers localized landing pages

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Kinsta goes further and offers a batch of multi-language Twitter accounts for various locales:

Conversion rate optimization: Kinsta offers localized Twitter accounts

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While this does sound daunting at face value, if you already use a translation solution such as Weglot, you’ll be able to create a landing page in a primary language. The tool will handle the translation process from there.

The key is meeting your customers wherever and however they come across your ecommerce store: whether that’s from Google, a social media platform, email, or somewhere else.

Start Improving Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

When optimizing your ecommerce conversion rate, it’s important to consider both international and local customers. Each customer base has a similar set of expectations and needs. You can meet most of them by providing a simple functionality to select a language and currency, clear checkout options, localized delivery choices, and more. Without these features and considerations, you risk losing these customers.

To simplify the process, use a high-quality translation software. It can help you add a language switcher, multiple currency options, various delivery options, localized landing pages, and much more.

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Topics: Ecommerce

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