Looking for Global E-Commerce Technology? Ask These Five Questions First


If you’re considering investing in a global e-commerce technology or software there are a few questions you should remember to ask when considering vendors. Among the dozens of factors to sift through, five crucial elements should strongly influence your decision for a software. If you don’t ask the right or necessary questions before investing in global e-commerce technology, you could spend a fortune backtracking. Check out our five most important questions to ask of your potential vendors:

1.     How Does Your Technology Handle Localization?

If there are restrictions on selling certain products to certain countries, your technology will need to allow you the flexibility to curate products for different markets. In other words, the right solution will be able to provide catalog targeting and exclusions, which enable you to include or exclude products from displaying in certain countries. Using such a feature can help you avoid legal ramifications down the road in addition to localizing the products to fit the preferences and tastes of each market.

You will want to have settings for different countries or IP geolocation capabilities so you can understand how users or shoppers arrive at your site and where they come from. With this ability, you’ll gain insight into your target audience and better cater to customers. You’ll also be able to serve a localized version of your website to that audience depending on which country they are in.

From a currency perspective, you’ll want a solution that enables you to localize currency preferences such as enabling shoppers in Europe to view purchases in euros. Local conventions also have differences in rounding prices. Your software should allow you to round prices in the currency conversion so they end in “.00” or “.95” depending on the local convention.

2.     How Does Your Solution Manage Duties and Tax?

Displaying duties and taxes to shoppers or at least communicating how these fees are being paid upfront is important for providing a positive experience for your customers, so your software should make this easy. Ask vendors if their solutions can accurately calculate duties and taxes for each of the countries your business targets. The right technology should give you the flexibility to display duty and/or tax amounts in a few different ways:

  • Included as part of the product price
  • Broken out separately on the product page
  • Displayed as a separate line item in the shopping cart
  • Listed out as as a line item at checkout

Your software should help you clearly display and communicate to shoppers that they are paying duties and tax either upfront or that they will need to remit those fees later. 

3.     Does the Solution Localize Payments and Offer Local Payment Methods?

Shoppers in different countries use different payment types to transact. Therefore, it’s important for cross-border shoppers to have options when they checkout on a website. If you only allow international shoppers to transact using certain payment methods only popular in certain countries, this could result in high shopping cart abandonment rates because, quite simply, your customers can’t complete their transactions. So for example, PayPal and Apple Pay may be popular in the United States, but in China, WeChat Pay and AliPay are the most popular payment methods. Any software you decide to use to localize your site should give your business the flexibility to provide customers in different markets the payment methods they are most accustomed to using so that their online experience feels similar to shopping on a local site. This will help boost conversion rates and ultimately sales.

4.     How Does the Solution Support International Shipping and Logistics?

Many factors go into setting up the right shipping and logistics solution, but technology can help make it easier. The service providers like treefroglogistics.com take the world of 3PL to the next level in getting both global and local shipments delivered efficiently with the facility of tracking the shipment process.

Customers expect order tracking so that they know when their orders will arrive at their door, so it is important for online brands to provide tracking for packages all the way through to the last-mile carrier.

Also, communicating delivery windows upfront is key. Many online shoppers place orders expecting to receive their orders in time for certain holidays, so providing accurate delivery windows upfront and meeting those expectations will provide a better experience for the customer, build trust with the brand, and boost customer retention and repeat orders.  

Furthermore, e-commerce businesses need to consider that customers like to have flexibility when it comes to shipping options.  A solution that can provide the right balance of delivery speed and cost is preferable in order to suit the different customer needs, especially since some customers are willing to pay more for shipping to receive their orders in time for a specific holiday. 

As free shipping becomes increasingly common and expected, e-commerce brands need to think about how to make the unit economics work for their businesses. In some cases, a business may decide to offer free shipping only in certain markets and then in others provide a flat rate or a threshold amount for free shipping to help offset the cost.  If your business is fulfilling orders from multiple distribution centers, make sure to find a solution that can handle this use case by being inventory aware no matter where the merchandise is shipping from.

Last, consider if the software is “hubless,” meaning a customer’s order doesn’t pass through a cross-dock, which creates delays in delivery. The best solution will provide direct international shipping.

5.     Does Your Solution Have Tools to Support Customer Service and Order Management?

When customers have issues, your software should enable you to address those quickly and easily. Ask global e-commerce platform vendors if their solutions provide customer service and order lookup tools as well as reverse logistics tools to facilitate returns. You’ll also want to know if it supports refunds through a platform or API. Look for software that gives you complete access to all order data and offers fraud protection.

 Equipped with these questions, you’ll be able to filter through the global e-commerce software solutions out there that meet some, but not all, of your needs. The right one will encompass all the above.