The fact of the matter is that almost 46 percent of current Internet companies turn away international orders because they do not have processes in place to fill them. Therefore, although the Internet makes it possible for a company to sell items in an international marketplace, many companies are not prepared to go global.
Many Obstacles to selling across national boundaries exist. They include communication barriers, cultural differences, global shipping problems due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure and varying degrees of Internet capability in countries.
Companies preparing to launch global e-commerce sites should keep in mind that a key step is to prepare for international shipments. Smaller products mean air transport is affordable and DHL Worldwide Express, FedEx and UPS offer excellent shipping options. Larger merchandise is normally shipped by some type of freight forwarder.
Both express delivery and freight forwarding companies usually will have the assistance in shipping to countries they serve. These companies offer specialized logistics software and also provide the proper documentation and forms to meet the regulations of each country.
Making shipping arrangements is not all that must be done. Internet companies must examine both export and import laws in the countries involved. After working on the shipping, payment mechanisms must be installed. Each country differs not only in terms of type of currency but also in methods of payment. For example, in Europe, debit cards are preferred to credit cards. Europe also has a high rate of credit card theft which increases the risks associated with accepting them.
Another challenge in the international arena is developing websites that appeal to the audiences of each country. This leads adding information that someone in another country would need such as the country code for telephone numbers. It also requires removing or changing any colors, words or images that might be offensive to a particular group of people in another country.
This may seem easy, however, simply translating an English site into another language is not sufficient. The company must have someone who understands both the language and the culture of the target area in order to ensure no one is offended by a company's marketing efforts. Also the cultural assimilator should check to make sure the proper meaning is being disseminated for each communication effort. Using local firms to translate the Web pages often following these types of communication problems from occurring.
Probably the most difficult challenge companies face in the international market is the technical side of the e-commerce site. Software compatibility is a major technical issue that has not yet been resolved. Countries vary in terms of how they handle e-commerce and these various technologies must be merged into one system. Information Technology (IT) people must be involved in every step of an internationalization process.
In the future, the growth of international e-commerce is likely to be explosive. Firms that – get in on the ground floor – may have a major marketing advantage in the years to come.