Whilst the future of ecommerce has never been brighter, the majority of online sales last year were domestic. But that is all set for change as Forrester predicts that by 2017 European online retail sales will reach a staggering €191 billion.

Increasingly cross border commerce is growing and companies offering UK businesses the opportunity to trade internationally via marketplaces means retailers are increasingly making moves to take their slice of the global market.

According to reports from Channel Advisor, 95 per cent of online retailers selling internationally are using marketplaces and last year almost half of them reported that 21-30% of their online sales came from international sales. As a result, the race to build trust with new consumers ahead of competitors is becoming a top priority.

An important consideration for successful businesses in Europe is understanding that the heritage and trust they have built in the UK will not be carried with them when expanding internationally. A study by Trusted Shops states that two-thirds of online shoppers say that a trustmark is important when considering a purchase from a foreign company – so it’s imperative that businesses are wary of steps they can take to engage international consumers before expanding operations.

Let’s look at four steps UK retailers can take to inspire cross-border trust and support sustainable growth:

Make a good first impression

Visitors don’t trust the unfamiliar so the website must have the look and feel of the local market. Tonality is also important – businesses don’t want their voice to get lost in translation, so it’s crucial that necessary language adaptations are made so that the brand message carries through to the consumer. Relevant pictures and layout features should also be integrated on the website to compliment cultural preferences. This can involve displaying icons or logos of local services that are used the specified country, such as local payment providers, local couriers or even local brands that the company may sell. Overall this will encourage new customers and help them to relate to and bond with the brand, increasing the likelihood of them staying on the website.

Get the pricing right

Being the cheapest doesn’t guarantee the most customers. Low prices from an unknown brand sets alarm bells ringing for customers and makes them suspicious. Take a holiday scenario, for example. When shoppers visit a supermarket there’s lots of unrecognisable brands on the shelf at great prices, but customers always end up grabbing the overpriced imports because they know and can trust the brand. Consequently it’s vital that pricing is in line with local retailers and supports other trust building measures.

Don’t assume your heritage will be carried with you

Nobody wants to wait 50 years for heritage and trust to build naturally. European shoppers are less comfortable with shopping online and aren’t as trusting as UK consumers. Invest in trust building tools such as customer review systems, trustmarks, and money- back guarantees to prove the business has its customer best interests at heart. Doing so will show commitment to a a safe shopping experience. Recommendations and customer feedback also play an increasing role in purchase decisions too, so collecting and displaying genuine customer feedback is worthwhile to reassure new customers the company can be trusted to deliver a great product and service.

Be wary of local laws and regulations

Local laws don’t just differ from continent to continent, but from country to country. Make sure the company website is in line with local law. It’s increasingly important that retailers are aware of consequences for non-compliance, such as penalties - which apply in Germany, for example.


By Phillip Smith, UK Country Manager at Trusted Shops. 

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