Don't squander your marketing budget: get the online retail basics right

Tobias Schreyer is the co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of PPRO
Tobias Schreyer is the co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of PPRO

With smaller retailers competing against the large international brands, their hunger to expand internationally has become stronger, as more and more retailers are continuing to break into the online realm. However, with their sights firmly set on growth, many have missed out on the fundamental basics which could impact their chances of succeeding in this competitive marketplace.

To attract international customers, UK retailers need to concentrate their efforts on ensuring the intrinsic elements of their site are clean, clear, concise and specific to the market's requirements before investing their money on marketing to the international market. Unfortunately, some key elements are being overlooked.

The payment page

Many online retailers assume the main focus when putting together an online destination is ensuring it looks attractive, it's easy to use and there is an interest in the goods offered. It is so easy to forget how important the payment page is to each and every transaction, especially when spending vital budget on attracting customers to the site.

Our recent research revealed that despite the majority of UK businesses spending up to a fifth of their marketing budget on attracting international customers, 40% of potential international revenue is lost at the payments page.

There is only a benefit in attracting customers if they can fulfil all requirements while on the site. If they go through the process of familiarising themselves with the site, choosing an item and trying to complete the purchase only to find their preferred payment method is missing, they are likely to go elsewhere and are unlikely to return.

Our research also revealed that of the retailers looking to attract international customers, only 55% were prepared to offer different payment options to them, showing a serious disconnect between a retailer's business strategy and their appreciation for how international payment cultures differ.

The payment process needs to be specific to a market, just as the language is. However, many retailers have adopted a payment strategy that only facilitates the domestic customer, rather than the international market they wish to attract.

International differences

As each country has its own culture, so it has its preferred payment methods. Whilst the credit card is a globally recognised payment method, most countries in Europe prefer alternative means, be it direct debit, e-wallets, iDEAL, giropay, other domestic real-time bank transfer schemes or SEPA direct debit.

There can often be a worry that additional elements like this will cost a business revenue. In most cases, for a business to accept payments of this type, it can be as simple as ticking a box through your PSP (Payment Service Provider), and this simple act can increase revenue in the long-term.

Marketing a site is extremely important. With the global accessibility of goods via the internet and reduced shipping costs from far flung destinations, making your site stand out from the crowd is not only important, but necessary for a business to thrive. It is unlikely that your site is the only one of its kind and customer satisfaction, throughout all stages of the process, is imperative.

Consumers are fickle and expectations are growing. They expect personalisation and to be offered goods that are of interest to them and immediately available. They also expect to be offered a site that is interesting and easily navigated, and to be able to complete a purchase once they have invested the time in your business.

Online stores need to ensure that any potential barriers to customer satisfaction and revenue are addressed before investing in marketing to attract international customers. It must be appreciated that payments are as diverse as languages and cultures themselves, and personalisation is an important focus throughout. Something that can be so easily dismissed will have a damaging effect upon the profitability of any online business.

  • Tobias Schreyer is the co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of PPRO