The UK is the world’s leading e-commerce exporter, with fashion brands leading the way. Moving to an international market is a challenge for most companies, but worth it when one considers the potential return. For instance, one estimate has put the American e-commerce market at being worth $409 billion last year.

Taking even a small slice of that pie can significantly boost an e-commerce platform’s revenue, however conversions from American clients on UK sites are historically low at 0.68%. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some best practise guidelines for companies planning to cross the pond.
Site Optimisation

Some things never change no matter what market you’re operating in – an e-commerce site must look and function well to fully-engage customers. That means designing for a smooth checkout process; making relevant information easily-accessible throughout the site, and ensuring that any abandoned carts are followed-up promptly. American brands have been at the cutting-edge of e-commerce so this market has come to expect a high level of quality.

Brands entering the American market must have a site optimised for mobile platforms. The m-commerce market over there was worth around $34 billion in 2013, up 60%+, and that figure will drastically increase in 2014. American consumers expect to be able to access sites and make easy purchases from their tablets and phones, and any UK e-commerce operation hoping to make a successful bid for market share there must be prepared for that.

Heritage

The UK holds a lot of credibility in international markets and America is certainly no exception. Don’t be afraid of announcing your site’s British roots, or playing on it. Look at uniquely British locations, people and events that have a worldwide appeal, such as Royal weddings and births or Shakespeare, and associate your brand with them.

Delivery

Unexpected or expensive delivery charges are the main reason why shoppers abandon their carts. Not all brands can afford to offer free delivery, but you can cut abandonment rates by making visitors aware of delivery options and costs at an early stage. Try also running sporadic offers such as free delivery for orders placed on a certain day of the month, or announcing through email and social media that orders received in the “next 30 minutes” will receive free shipping, for an immediate boost and a spot of publicity too.

By using recognised carriers such as DHL or Fedex that are widely-recognised in America you can guarantee a reliable service and establish trust.

Content

Prepare content, such as blog articles, imagery and videos, that is shaped specifically for the American markets, using US measurements and terminology, to engage visitors and make your site more inclusive.
“Have a nice day!”

Americans have come to expect a very high standard of customer service in all walks of life. The British, it has to be said, have a little way to go, although we’re getting better! You’ll need to match expectations – responding to customer questions and complaints efficiently, and always devising new ways to deliver a better customer experience. One good option is to install a Live Chat app so customers can speak to someone at any time for advice.

Act like a local

Remember the time difference – the UK is five hours ahead of America. One important implication of this is that when most Americans are active on social media in the evenings, most Brits are in bed asleep. Look into automating social postings and consider how you are going to deal with customer service issues which may not wait until morning.

Payment

Convert your site so that it accepts payment in $USD, and especially PayPal. Many e-commerce customers are put off from buying if their preferred payment option is not available.