10 Biggest Mistakes by Shopify shops who Started International Sales

I have worked in the e-commerce field for more than three years, with total sales of over 100,000 Euros. My goal for this blog article is to show simple actions you can take to rapidly increase your purchase rate. I will not only provide information about what works, but I will also look back at the biggest mistakes I have made during my career. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to! I hope you will not only learn from and avoid these mistakes, but also see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. After all, knowing what you shouldn’t do is at least as important as knowing what you should do.

Remember the last time you traveled abroad and had to pay with, say, British pounds? If you’re like most people, you may have panicked, wondering how much what you were buying would cost in your home currency. The same is true for E-commerce. Customers want to know how much they’re paying for the product in their own currency. Fortunately, by simply adding a currency converter, you can increase your sales by 100% or more. Here is the one I use because of its geo-location tracking - https://apps.shopify.com/best-multi-currency-converter

Translate Your Shop into Multiple Languages

Only 20% of the world's inhabitants speak English, but that’s approximately 1.2 billion people! If you can sell your products to each of them, you are set for life. Therefore, setting up your shop in multiple languages will improve your conversion rate exponentially. But remember – you’ll need a high-quality, accurate translation, and that translation must be updated every time your webpage is updated. I suggest using English, Spanish, German, French and Italian. It’s a good idea to look into the countries Amazon has localized/translated their webpage for and add those languages to your shop too.

 Shipping, Logistics, and Again... Shipping

To become a successful international seller, you have to be good at shipping. Having the right plan will undoubtedly increase your profit margins. Selecting the wrong shipping provider will cause you to lose a lot of customers. You must have a system in place to calculate shipping based on the weight and dimensions of every package. The same is true when a customer purchases three different products. The customer expects a clear and correct explanation of the shipping time (in days), the total cost, and whether or not he/she will need to pay extra import duties. One of the best tools I have found is Amazon FBA or a similar logistic provider to offer fast service, which is what modern customers expect.

Shipping is not entirely our responsibility. The product our company provides is made and shipped by a third-party service, but if the shipping is too slow or the provider damages the product with rough handling, we will receive negative feedback, which will adversely affect our business internationally.

What Works in the U.S. Doesn't Work Elsewhere

It is also important to do some research to find out A) which international audience is the best fit for your product, B) what customers in these areas expect, and C) how your local competitors communicate with their customers. Being seen as one of the locals is the main advantage for successful international sales. So do deep research and find out at least five advantages that will help you succeed there.

Customer Service Approach

Quick answers to your customers’ questions in their local language will increase your purchase rate rapidly, but always be sure to find the break-even point when you’re ready to add foreign language customer service. If you are good with boots, use them as your foreign customer service. You don't want to lose customers who were looking for small details but couldn’t find them and didn't purchase your product as a result. So provide details, process sales and shipping as efficiently and quickly as possible, and occasionally offer a discount code or a discounted up-sale product.

Not the Right Marketing Budget, or the Wrong Dollar Spent

When you want to start selling internationally, the marketing budget will burn as fast as dry paper, so you have to plan everything – such as how much you will spend on each region, whether or not Facebook ads are the right way to acquire your first customers, how to get paid placement ads, or if you need to hire a local PR agency. These and many other decisions need to be made three months in advance. And remember to always keep track of what is working and what isn’t. Seeing where the lowest cost per purchase is can be simplified by using an Excel spreadsheet. When you find your lowest cost per customer, you are ready to scale internationally.

Have custom sales for events celebrated in particular communities or regions.

Don't focus on one channel. Try to test multiple TV ads to see if they are still alive. And remember - every inhabitant has a mailbox. J

Return Policy / Trust Badges

Make sure to have an easy-to-understand return policy, and explain every step. Shopify can even generate a return policy for your business for free. I always use a 30-day return policy, not to be confused with a “free return” policy.

If you sell on Amazon, some customers will expect to be given a local return address. I always recommend finding one. The world's largest brands all have trust badges because they make ordering comfortable for their customers. At minimum, they have a free shipping badge. So if that is recommended if it is possible for you, at least for selected products.

Product Visual Materials, Packaging and Description

Always have high-quality photos, and if your budget allows, hire local influencers to create localized content.

When you travel, always have product with you to take photos for ads and social media. Great descriptions and videos explaining what the products do and how they solve your customers’ problems will increase sales rapidly. Remember to show exactly why they need your product.

Work on your packaging. Some companies even add local candies, and customers love personal notes or gifts. Small touches like this will make your company memorable, and make them repeat customers.

Legal and VAT Calculation

Make sure your product is legal in the regions you’re selling to, and calculate VAT properly. Getting your legal affairs in order from the first day will help you scale your business internationally; you don't want to pay extra taxes after a few years because you didn’t know do your paperwork and calculations properly. If necessary, consult with an accountant or other entrepreneurs from the world of E-Commerce.

Your Story

Why do people buy? Tell your story clearly and deliver the right message to them. Your first impression is the most important one. Word-of-mouth advertising is still the best kind, so you want your customers to tell your story correctly to their family, friends and neighbours so that they will become your customers too.

Here is a list of apps I use every day to run my Shopify stores. These apps will rapidly increase your sales. Good luck!