The two key items international shoppers are looking for  

Any consumer behavior study will tell you that the majority of international shoppers on US eCommerce sites are buying for one of 2 reasons:

  1. Available products and services
  2. Convenience

Available products and services

International consumers turn to online shops when their local shops fail them. They search out stores with the exact product that they are looking for. Today’s consumers also perform more research before they make a purchase. 90% of shoppers are unsure of what brand they want to buy when they start looking online. They perform hundreds of micro-searches before they convert into a sale. The merchants hope, if they have it the consumer will buy it. But unfortunately, if it’s not convenient to buy, the sale may be lost.


As much as I enjoy shopping online, I know that the international consumer doesn’t have the same hassle-free experience with US eCommerce.

Online shopping is available all hours of the day or night. Research shows that 58% of shoppers preferred to shop online because they can shop after-hours and avoid big crowds and endless lines. In the case of international consumers, they can shop at any store regardless of border and time zone.

I am not sure about you, but that’s why I buy online. It’s convenient not having to leave the house, shopping on my own schedule, knowing the total cost without feeling committed to buy, and the joy of seeing a package on the doorstep when I get home.

International shoppers want an online shopping and checkout experience equal to the easier domestic experience. They often face too many hurdles to painlessly place an order with an online shop. Let’s look at a common example from our research.

Meet typical international shopper Geir

Geir lives in France and he’s trying to buy Barefoot running shoes from a US retailer. Geir knows a little English, but he lets his browser take care of the language translation.

He meets his first frustration when some of the English elements don’t translate. Either they are invalid HTML or they are text in images. However, this doesn’t keep him from browsing the site and finding the perfect pair of five-toed shoes.

His second frustration appears when he has to search on a separate site to learn how his feet compare to US shoe sizing. Defying statistics, he comes back and chooses the correct shoe size. He proceeds to checkout and has his quote in USD.

He faces a third frustration when the address field for his delivery is only set to validate US addresses. His address keeps throwing an error because of lazy development and missing localization. Geir perseveres and orders his rad shoes.

He waits for delivery, spending his time daydreaming about how much faster he will run with each toe snuggled in its own segregated shoe-pocket.

One fateful day, 1-3 weeks later, Geir sees a notice on his door. His package can only be delivered in-person because he needs to sign for it and he has to pay additional import fees, taxes, and duties. Sometimes these fees can cost more than the product value.

This is his last frustration and it’s make or break.

Think about it.

If you were Geir, would you buy from that shoe retailer again?

The last experience Geir has is owing more money than he was quoted originally.

Geir reacts one of two ways: Either he pays the additional fees and leaves an angry review on the shop’s Facebook page or he refuses the product and asks for a refund. The shop then has to pay additional shipping costs to get the product back.

This is just one scenario for one product. This doesn’t take into account holiday shopping, coupons, delivery time, or out of stock orders. There are many other consumer experience issues that cross-border shoppers suffer through regularly. These pains aren’t limited to the consumer, but they affect the shop as well.

There is hope!

Some of the features that you can add to your website to reduce/eliminate friction points are:



  • Currency Conversion
  • Website Translation
  • Proper Address Fields
  • Only Allow Purchase of Items Eligible for Import to their Country
  • Acceptance of Foreign Payment Methods

Total Cost Transparency


Addressing some or all of these issues can be overwhelming, but as Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

The goal of expanding your cross-border sales shouldn’t be abandoned. Let us help you adjust the actions you take to achieve your goals.

iGlobal Stores helps merchants deal with these pains every day. Make contact with us and we can audit your current international consumer experience and your internal processes, for free!

Comments are closed.