Updated: May 27, 2019

According to E-commerce Europe and many other organisations, the challenges you face in international VAT handling, import tax’s and differences in privacy policies, are the biggest hurdle for companies to succeed abroad. This is relevant challenges, but:


Being able to handle local VAT will not make your webshop better than the local competitors!


Everyday the VAT, import tax and legal differences are handled by many successful international webshops. It is not that difficult and can be solved. But solving these challenges will not be enough, you are facing local competitors born with some very important advantages.

  • They will have lower shipment costs

  • They are able to handle returns at a lower cost and higher speed

  • They are part of their countrys culture and e-commerce habits

  • They experience their competitors activities everyday on TV, online and in social media channels

Therefore it is important for a webshop to look at the other side of the initial challenges mentioned above. We see 4 areas where a webshop must feel confident about their ability to handle them:


Competive advantage


As a business you need to understand the competitive situation in a new market. Can you see your webshop succeed in this market, when you compare your offer to the market with the competitors offer? Can you match their prices, assortment, delivery time, return terms, trust and other areas where customers might benchmark you?


Seamless buying experience


Make it easy for yourself. Prepare a platform that will give the costumers a seamless buying experience. Avoid compromises on payment methods, returns or other areas, it will only save you a few euro’s, but instead give you two problems 1) a reduced conversion rate and 2)  make it more difficult to explain the results.


Budget for marketing investment


To start up a new market will take an marketing investment. You need money to attract  visitors to your site and the first visitors will not convert in to customers as easy as you hoped for. You will also depend on bought traffic since you don’t have a re-marketing list or a lot of people talking about you.


You will need help from an online marketing specialist with local experience – and even him or her needs time to test your products and webshop against different channels.


Bottom line is that it will cost you extra money before you will see a strong conversion rate and happy and returning customers.


Understanding the market and the competitive environment


To decide on a new market requires a good understanding of the competition and the market, but it is just as important to follow the market and the actions of your competitors after the shop has been launched.


This will help you maintain your competitive advantage, make sure your webshop meets the expectations of the customers and make it possible for you, to get the most out of your marketing investment


>> Proper planning and a  “local hero”


Our experience is that it is possible to compete against local webshops in new countries and succeed.


To do so it is important to take the right initial decisions. Try to understand the competitive situation (let us do a Market scan or do one yourself), this will give you a strong understanding of the competitive situation and what you will be up against.


Use freelancers or our native shop managers as the local hero’s of your webshop. They can make sure you know what you need to know to take the right strategic and tactical decisions in the new market and help you keeping your webshop professional, localised and appealing for the local customers.


Following the e-commerce conference “E-commerce ’16” in Vilnius, Lithuania, we were pleased to participate in a video seminar hosted by Vladas Sapranavičius and to share our knowledge about localisation in foreign markets.


See our company founder, Max Riis Christensen, presenting the main steps that are crucial for a business looking to expand its business into new countries, as well as answering other frequently asked questions regarding e-business localisation in the video below.


Updated: May 27, 2019

This  subject comes up very often when we talk to businesses planning selling abroad. Not that they can’t imagine it will improve results if the shop is translated, but will it be worth the investment?


The answer is not the same for every webshop, but the real question to ask yourself is the same for all webshops.

  • Is our webshop a safe and trustworthy shop and do visitors believe, that we are a serious player in their country?

The visitor’s experience of your webshop often determines if they will buy or not. Things that can add to a positive impression are among many other things translations. But you can also add to this experience by offering local payment methods, a local address and customer service in local language and this is why the right decision sometimes is not to translate.


So…back to the question, should you translate your webshop?


YES: If you are in competition with  translated webshops offering the same products and if you don’t have an important competitive advantage such as lower price,  free return etc. the answer would be yes. All else being equal, most costumers would go for the translated webshop.


NO: If you are one of few online resellers offering the products, if the visitors feel secure browsing your webshop and they understand enough to decide which product meets their needs without a translation, then you can have a market share without a translation.


If your competitive environment is more diverse, you should consider the following questions:


  • How much money does a product bring in?

  • What is the average translation price per product?

  • Do you have a small group of products bringing in the main part of your revenue?

  • Do you have a group of products generating traffic or requiring a deeper and/or more technical description?

  • Are there important local marketing channels and do they require local language?

  • Do you expect to be able to attract SEO traffic (the more competitive industry, the less organic traffic can be expected)?


Knowing the answers to these questions you can start calculating the needed increase in volume of a product to justify the translation. You can also consider to start translating a group of products. Pick a group that you expect will be searched most for in the local language to attract organic traffic and use the same products in a Google shopping feed (in general foreign languages in Google shopping feeds is in general not accepted, and in any case not as efficient as having a translated feed).


From a SEO perspective translations are important, but the share of SEO traffic in most webshops is decreasing and SEO work should be considered a long term investment. We don’t often see SEO traffic alone justify a translation.


Where to start?

  1. Find your top 5 online competitors in the country you consider

  2. Compare their webshops with your own webshop on the “safe and secure shopping experience”

  3. Make a list of things you could do to to improve your webshops “safe and secure shopping experience”

  4. Prioritise and get to work

MakesYouLocal can assist in this proces, from doing the actual localisation and translation task, to help find and describe the competition.