Entering the European market offers huge opportunities for eCommerce companies that are hard to ignore.

With a population of 748 million (equating to 10% of the world’s inhabitants), a wide variety of consumer demographics to find your niche in, and the potential to expand or reinvigorate your revenue streams, Europe holds exciting possibilities for small to medium-sized businesses to explore.

What’s more, the European Commission has predicted that economic growth in Europe is expected to continue at a rate of 4.3% and 2.5% in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Broadly speaking, there are plenty of ‘pull factors’ to entice your company to Europe. However, before taking the plunge and expanding across the Atlantic, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the common pitfalls eCommerce companies often encounter when making this big leap.

These mistakes should be identified and considered to ensure that your venture will be a success, as avoiding them can help create a smooth transition for your business.

1. Using one domain for all EU countries

Make sure your new potential customers in Europe get the best online experience with the use of local domains for each country you are planning to have a presence in.

Local domains are considered by consumers to be more trustworthy. In Ireland for example, the .ie Tipping Point survey found that 77% of consumers surveyed preferred to shop on .ie websites over .com or other domains.

Consumers feel that a local domain signals less risk with services such as delivery and returns.

2. Websites in English only

One of the biggest differences between the US and European markets is the diversity of languages spoken across Europe. While English is generally the second language in most countries, it is still highly advisable to present your website in the local language.

A survey by the Common Sense Advisory, which included over 2000 respondents from eight different countries, found that a whopping 72.4% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language, illustrating the clear benefits of translating your website.

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3. Translated, but not Localized

When you are translating from one language to another, there is always the risk of making a language faux pas.

An example of this is the famous mistake of multinational bank HSBC, whose slogan “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated into “Do Nothing” in several countries. The blunder was reported to have cost the company $10million to rebrand in subsequent campaigns.

Additionally, opting not to use a local translator could present a missed opportunity to tap into the nuances of a local language. This is integral practice if you wish to make an impact on the market you are pursuing.

For example, the word “sorry” could be expressed in German with the word “entschuldigung” and the phrase “es tut mir leid”, but in fact, the former is used more to say “excuse me”, and the latter more as an apology. It is therefore worth cross-referencing your translations by engaging with a local proofreader before going live.

4. PayPal as the only payment method

Imagine the scenario: your carefully localized website has been successful in bringing your visitors all the way along the customer journey right up to the checkout point, but you are left scratching your head wondering why many of them are abandoning their cart at this stage. One crucial consideration here is to ensure the appropriate payment methods are made available to your customers.

In Q3 of 2021, PayPal is reported to have over 416 million registered accounts across over 200 countries. However, there are more and more alternative options to choose from that are considerably popular in certain locations. Carte Bancaires, for example, is a widely used alternative in France, while PayDirekt is popular in Germany.

It is therefore worth doing your research in your target locations to learn about the payment options your customers will be expecting to see. That doesn’t necessarily mean offering ten different payment options in every European country; it simply reinforces the importance of carrying out adequate advance research, which will allow you to pre-empt locations where providing another option would remove significant barriers for your new customers.

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5. Not providing local delivery options

Your new European customers will likely be savvy online shoppers who want to avoid a negative experience when parting with their cash. As a business owner, you will want to ensure smooth delivery as part of your eCommerce service to encourage brand loyalty and leverage customer recommendations and positive reviews.

As such, having confidence in your delivery provider should be one of your top priorities when breaking into the European market. You will also need to manage the operational considerations surrounding delivery, such as warehouse storage, packaging, customer service and returns.

Your Complete Order Fulfilment Solution

ParcelPlanet offers a complete order fulfilment solution delivering to all of Europe, tailored specifically to your business needs. With locations in Ireland and in the UK, we can help you to get up and running seamlessly using our network of courier services throughout Europe.

Provide your new European customers with the best brand experience possible, from their first encounter with your website to the delivery and use of your product. Contact us today to find out more about how our team can help you to grow your business and deliver an excellent customer experience.