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Daniel PorterJul 28, 2020 2:15:00 PM7 min read

How to adapt and scale your international ecommerce post lockdown

With the impacts of coronavirus being affected by businesses globally, sellers need to adapt their strategies to meet the new demands and buying behaviours adopted by shoppers.  

Selling internationally should now be the prime focus of a lot of ecommerce merchants as more buyers than ever before are purchasing the majority of their products across borders, as the world continues to shift into one large, borderless market.

 In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • How coronavirus has impacted ecommerce
  • Why is localization more important than ever 
  • Using Lean localization to scale international sales

Shopping ads webinar

Watch now

To find out the fastest ways to convert international buyers, watch our on demand webinar with Google and BigCommerce.

2020 has been a very impactful year so far for ecommerce and retail. 

In just a few months we have seen an enormous dynamic shift in how consumers buy products, with a huge leap from physical retail dominance, to the majority of sales now coming from ecommerce. Online giants like Amazon being able to connect with customers all around the world during a time when physical retail stores in most countries were closed, forced buyers to change not only their approach to shopping, but their expectations as well. 

For countries that weren’t in lockdown, such as the US, consumer trust in brick-and-mortar stores were heavily impacted. 

  • Over 40% of US respondents said they avoided or limited visits to shopping centers/malls 
  • Over 30% said they were avoiding physical retail stores entirely.

However the last few months have seen a huge boost to ecommerce as a whole. UK online retail sales rose by 22% in the first week of April shortly after the pandemic was announced, with some product categories benefiting considerably more, such as:

  • Health and beauty sector rose 140%
  • Electricals rose 90% 
  • Home and garden rose 70%.

 A similar impact was noted for US and Canada as online orders for physical stores rose on average 56% in April.

This does however, also mean that the domestic ecommerce market is changing. With merchants realising the significant potential of ecommerce and the slow decline of physical stores, selling online domestically is also becoming a saturated market.

It’s because of this shift that it has become essential for merchants to openly target new international markets with less competition and more opportunity, to be able adapt to the new evolving landscape of ecommerce.

With international ecommerce it can feel like it’s a little bit more difficult to get started. We have put together an overview of a key aspect of international ecommerce that is often overlooked, and the methodology to help scale international ecommerce quickly.

The key to a successful international ecommerce strategy is Localization.

The biggest challenge in not just international ecommerce, but ecommerce as a whole is checkout conversion. Finding buyers can be a challenge for merchants who are new to international selling, however there are platforms that further enable this, such as Google Shopping which opens up access to millions of shoppers worldwide. The difficult part is guiding buyers that land on a home page, to the checkout and converting. A lot of merchants invest in global markets but miss one key component to drive international sales. 


International conversion is often overlooked, many merchants focus more on finding buyers than providing them the right shopping experience that leads into a checkout conversion. The objective or localization is to make the buying experience of the user as close to their normal native experience as possible.

This is absolutely key to international sales.

Localization vs Translation - what are the differences?

Translation is the process of translating words or text from one language to another.

Localization isn’t translation. It’s about adapting a store to a whole new localized culture and shopping experience. This includes product descriptions in the buyers languages, sizes in their metric system, prices in their currency and their methods of payment accepted, to name a few. 

Offering international buyers a localized experience can not only dramatically increase the overall number of international transactions, but also increase the average transaction value.

When a buyer is provided an experience where they feel comfortable when shopping, they’ll be more likely to convert their shopping cart. 

However implementing localization into the sales process can be a daunting task to many merchants - not knowing where to start or what to prioritise. 

This is where ‘Lean Localization’ comes into play.

What is Lean localization?

Lean localization is an agile and iterative approach to localization that helps identify the quickest and most effective ways to start converting international buyers. 

Most merchants don’t have the time or resources to localize every aspect of their sales process and shopping experience, and this is one of the reasons why a lot of businesses struggle to localize, or they overlook the positive impact it has on buyer conversion. Trying to localize their entire offering from day one can be long and costly.

Lean localization is an agile approach that helps identify the quickest, most effective way to start converting international buyers.

It’s about prioritizing the things that will have the biggest impact, in the shortest implementation time. 

The Lean localization Toolkit

Let’s take a look at the localization toolkit. These are just some of the things that need to considered when trying to create a fully localized experience for buyers. 

localization toolkit

Whether it’s language, pricing, fulfilment, duties, taxes, seo, payments, trying to incorporate everything straight away is either going to be too complicated or too time consuming, and understanding the first aspects to start with can be confusing.

By using lean localization, we can adapt this concept to the international buying funnel, and map out where the most impacting changes that can be made to scale international sales the fastest.

By focusing on the website and determining  where the traffic falls off, you can discover the areas where localization could create the largest, immediate impact.

Are your buyers landing on your homepage but immediately dropping off? Then offering localised Languages could be the best implementation to focus on. 

Are buyers moving through your website, but falling off and not converting at the checkout page? Payment options, tax, currency etc may be the most impactful change to start with.

Understanding where immediate attention is needed, is the quickest, most effective way to improve checkout conversion, and this is how lean localization can help you to adapt your ecommerce in a post lockdown era.

Understanding the buyer funnel

This is an example of a merchants international buying funnel. This model can be used to understand the impact localization has on buyer conversion.

international buyer funnel

At the top of the funnel, we have 100 international visitors, as they progress through the funnel, we lose visitors, until finally, at the end, we have just one order.  Changes made to the bottom of the funnel, i.e. the final stages of the buying process (cart & checkout) can have a huge impact on the overall performance of the funnel.  

For example, common reasons why merchants lose international sales in the checkout is because they don’t support multiple currencies.  If, by supporting an additional currency, you can generate 2 orders, rather than 1, improving your checkout conversion with one simple change.

Mapping localization components to the buying funnel will help you identify which components are likely to have the greatest impact on your conversion rate.  Working up from the bottom, is the most prudent way to improve the performance of your funnel.  

Scaling international shopping Ads through lean localization

We put together a webinar with Google and BigCommerce to help you understand lean localization, as well as exploring how you can scale your international sales growth, discover which international markets are right for your business and how you can use this gained momentum and expand internationally.

shopping ads webinar

You will learn more about:

  • What is lean localization and how does it improve buyer conversion the quickest
  • How to discover which markets have the best potential for your store and which to potentially avoid
  • Understanding momentum in a market and how to take advantage
  • Simple & effective methods to streamline your processes

Watch now

In a nutshell

The simplest and fastest way to grow your international sales is to offer an end-to-end fully localized shopping experience. 

By giving international buyers an online shopping experience that is indistinguishable from their normal native experience, you not only compete with local competitors, but open up your store to shoppers all around the world.

Prioritizing the things that will have the biggest impact, in the shortest implementation time is the most effective approach to localization.

A cross-border trade partner can help you not only localize your store, but help scale international sales through efficient and effective localization.

For more information on how Glopal can help you grow your international sales, contact us today.


Daniel Porter

Daniel is an international ecommerce expert at Glopal.