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Expanding A Network of Customers To Include International Markets

5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 3:45 am on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

We an established business for about 5 years and mainly sell to our customers here in Australia.. we have some strong SEO for some of our keywords and getting international traffic as well....

Our aim is to expand and have customers in other countries...

Could you please share your experience in trying to get international orders..

We currently doing IP geo targeting message such as

1- We currently ship to {Country name}
2- Shipping takes 2-5 business days.

for the last 12 months, we had
18,429 visits came from 137 countries
Australia 11,574
USA 1,493
Singapore 835
HK 623

But we only got 3 orders to the USA...

We really like to hear about your experience in pushing international orders..

Many thanks



Msg#: 4121159 posted 3:47 am on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's a major hassle unless you are selling few items with high margins, or just want to do free shipping and pay all the brokerage fees so the customer may not even realize it's coming from another country.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 4:19 am on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are selling few items, lets say less than 15 items with about 50-150 per item...
Our site is a .au site so they will know...
My question is for those who tackle this issue of international orders, what was their experience with pushing international sales and what methods or changes they made to increase the overseas sales...


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 4:21 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

People in the US are afraid to buy from abroad, even from Canada. I see this in my biz and also in my hobby interests. If I were in your shoes, I would address it directly and with humor, along the lines of "Yes, we are in the upside-down part of the world, but you will still get your order!" Or whatever. And then explain how it will work. I had a problem with people not wanting to complete their transaction because the background would change from a pattern to a solid color when they were taken to the secure server. People were getting freaked out--"someone's trying to phish me!" So I addressed it directly: "Don't be skeered! On the secure server, the background is solid green." Really helped in terms of people completing the transaction. I guess how you address it depends on the image you want to project, but I do want to project the image of an individual actually being present and caring about their biz.


WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Msg#: 4121159 posted 4:48 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you want to promote more sales to the U.S., just scream "NO SALES TAX FOR U.S. CUSTOMERS" across your site. :) Of course, you may some day get the North Carolina Board of Revenue [webmasterworld.com] sending you nasty grams... :(

But seriously, in addition shipping and brokerage fees obstacles, you also have the deal with the credit card companies' 1-2% (or more) foreign exchange fees, and the issue of foreign exchange rates themselves. People get upset (and often issue a chargeback) when they end up paying more than they expected.

For example, Joe American buys a product from you. He looks at online exchange rates and computes the cost at US$100. Of course, he's looking at the mid-rate between the buying/selling prices, which is impossible to get. Then the exchange rate takes a nosedive between when he orders and a few days later when you actually ship and charge. Then his credit card company tacks on that foreign exchange fee. By the time Joe gets his statement, he's been charged over US$125 when he was expecting to pay US$100. (That's maybe a bit dramatic for the Aussie dollar, but it's not that extreme for other currencies.) Joe's pissed and issues a chargeback. By that time, the exchange rate has changed again and you have more money taken out of your account that you charged to begin with!


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 7:28 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, that's why a lot of websites abroad give the prices in, say, Euros, GBPs, and USDs. I've bought from places like that in the UK. That way you are billed in your own currency from the beginning. But Paypal bills in the originating currency. You buy something for 10 Euros, they take 10 Euros out. I don't think currency is a problem when it's handled right. The main problem that I see is trust. Americans a very parochial. I say that as an American.


WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Msg#: 4121159 posted 7:46 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, that's why a lot of websites abroad give the prices in, say, Euros, GBPs, and USDs.

To do that, you have to have a merchant account that handles multiple currencies. Not too many do that (that I am aware of). And the ones I've seen aren't cheap.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 9:09 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Part of the cost of doing business, no? And if the exchange rate is in their favor or their economy is doing well... I certainly had that experience with Japanese customers when Japan was doing so well. They had money coming out of their ears, in terms of their orders on my site.

Still, most of my customers from abroad are not the average Joe, either, from what I can tell. They are fairly sophisticated and educated, just as are, I suspect, most Americans who are buying from abroad (unless it's from the Old Country). That is a sector to be aimed at. I know that in my own niche there are folks in Europe who would most likely enjoy my products, but I am not sure how to reach them. I do get some who know English (and some who don't, really), but I wish it were more.


Msg#: 4121159 posted 9:16 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

It really depends on two things:
the profit margin and the weight of the product.
I do a lot of international sales BUT my business is quite different from yours.
I do wholesale and most of the international orders are at least $1000.
For many of the big customers I pay for shipping which sometimes costs me about 200-300 dollars.
You also gotta know the weight of your product and know how much it's going to cost you to ship before making the invoice.
And if you want to target american buyers you NEED to own the .com domain.
I highly doubt many americans feel safe buying from a .au website. I would be hesitant to be honest.
Obviously give prices in USD also.
I don't think it's THAT much work on your part especially if you're getting 1500 visits from the USA..
If you're products weighs a lot and will cost about 50-70 dollars than it might not be worth it for a product of 150.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Msg#: 4121159 posted 12:55 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

here in the US, we have companies who offer to act as an intermediary. so someone from Botswana wants to buy from a usa store, they sign up with the intermediary, and the intermediary's address is sued as the ship to location. then the person in Botswana has to work with the intermediary to pay freight and import tariffs / taxes. the ones i have seen (i haven't used any at all) are BongoUS, ViaAddress, ShipItTo, BorderLinx, MyUS. these intermediaries allow you to integrate their unusual shipping details into your checkout process - so where the consumer would usually enter their addy, they leave that process within your cart, stay within your cart (i think), but fill out the intermediaries info, then are dumped back into your process for fulfillment.

2 points...

perhaps they (or others) serve Australia, for your question...

anyone used any of these services or have any others to add to the list. i am curious about how returns would work, and whether fraud would still be a huge issue.

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