Introduction to Multi-Country E-commerce Portal
Multi-country e-commerce portals are online stores where purchases/ transactions are possible from different countries. Usually, online portals begin their operations with a single country. When they are planning to expand their business across geographies, they transform their online store to a global/multi-country store. Upgrading your online business from a country specific one to a global has become quite simple now. The recent advancement in web technologies has paved an easy way for it.
Zyxware Technologies, being a prominent e-commerce solutions provider since 2006, has helped many businesses in setting up their e-commerce store. We would like to share some insights with you, that we have gained from our engagements with clients.
Benefits of a Multi-Country Portal
While going global, you will in all likelihood deal with customers speaking different languages, following different cultures, and having specific interests. So, the proposed store should address all the concerns of these users.
The benefits that come along with a multi-country portal are:
- Increased Reach: You will be targeting millions of users instead of thousands.
- Increased Revenue: With increase in footfalls, the revenue tends to increase.
- Global Identity: Instead of one country, you will have customers from different countries. So, you will become a global player in e-commerce.
Challenges in Building a Multi-Country Portal
Building a multi-currency portal is easier said than done. There are various challenges that need to be addressed before building one.
Some of the challenges in building a multi country portal are:
Each country will have an official currency. Customers residing in that county will prefer making purchases in their native currency. Eg: American customers like to make payment in USD while customers from the UK prefer the British Pound. So, the stores should facilitate purchase in their native currencies.
Distinct Purchase Habits
With a change in culture, purchase habits also change. Eg: Customers in Germany would love to make payment using direct debit and wire transfer, while people from Japan prefer credit cards for purchases1. So, the system should be planned in a way that it matches the customer preferences.
Your store should speak the language that your customers love. Eg: Customers in France prefer their store to display in French language while customers from Germany prefer German.
Each country you target will have a distinct tax structure. Eg: Australia has a GST rate2 of 10% while Japan have a consumption tax3 of 10% on most of the goods. e-commerce system should facilitate configuring tax rules for each country.
Different Product SKU
With change in country, there may be slight differences in same product. This include specification, language, packing etc. As a result of this, the product SKU’s will be different.
Factors to Consider Before Developing a Multi-Currency E-commerce Store
We are briefing below three main factors that needs to taken into account while developing a multi-country ecommerce store.
Managing a multi-country e-commerce store is a tedious task. But a well-designed implementation can ease up this process.There are two administration models that can be used for a multi-country portal. They are:
In this model, the whole portal management will be done from a central administrative hub, probably located at one location. The portal functions will be divided based on functions and people belonging to a function will be executing only a set of specific tasks. For eg: marketing team will be in charge of content related matters in the portal. This includes images, description, product presentation etc. The sales team will be in charge of orders and the accounting team will be taking care of payment related things. Here, based on their roles, the tasks are allocated. Country wise differentiation will not be a prominent here. In this model, there will be only one code base from which all these country websites will be managed. This is quite useful when managing updates and feature enhancements. This model is suitable for companies having limited human resources. Also as everything is controlled from a central hub, its quite easy to ensure QA in all process.
In this model, each country will have their own ecommerce store and the administrative team in that locality will be in charge of managing the portal. Eg: The administrative team in Japan will be in charge of jp.storename.com and administrative team in Australia will be authorized to manage au.storename.com. Here each of these instances will be standalone installations. So, if a feature needs to be added across all stores, that task has to be done in all stores separately. This model is suitable for companies who have administrative divisions in all countries.
Language of the Portal
Content is the backbone of any online business. The global store is not different from this. Language plays an important role in multi-country ecommerce portal. There are two options for this.
Same language for all country stores
This can be used as a method to standardize the content delivery. Irrespective of the county, the store will display content only in 1 language. But the content may be different. Eg: For Japan store and US store, the language can be set to English. Both stores will display information related to their market in English. But USD will be the default currency of US store and Yen will be the default currency for Japan store.
Different language for all country stores
Here each country will have their own languages. Even a single store can have multiple languages. There may be some additional efforts required on the language translation end. The URL itself will be different for these kind of stores. Eg: The URL for the English version of Japan website will be jp.storename.com/en/. But for Japanese version, it will be jp.storename.com/ja/.
Customers in Europe loves clean elegant design. While customers in China prefer a text heavy design. There are differences in design concepts across countries. Two ways in which we can decide upon the look and feel of an ecommerce portal are :
Same theme for all country stores
This will minimize the design efforts and deliver a standardized feel. In this mode, all country stores will have the same design structure.
Unique themes for each country store
Design efforts will be quite higher in this mode. Each store will have a character of its own. The design can be developed in a way that it matches the customer preferences of that country.
Want help with deciding the options for your multi-country store? It is quite difficult to find out a solution that is a one size-fits-all. As the requirements for each store are unique, the solutions also will be different. We can help you in building a Drupal based multi country e-commerce store. To contact us for a consultation, click here.
1. Mai P. Tran, “Global Retail: The Biggest Challenges to Overcome When Selling Internationally”, blog, April 2015, CPC Strategy, Accessed August 2017
2. Goods and Services Tax, article, Government of Australia, Accessed August 2017
3. Taxation in Japan, Accessed August 2017