Getting paid

Adapting e-commerce payment methods for local markets

What you’ll learn

  • the common types of payment methods for e-commerce
  • when to localise payment methods in different markets
  • the steps needed to make customers' online payments easy and secure

Common payment types for e-commerce

The three most common types of payment method used by customers who shop online are likely to be:

  • credit cards
  • PayPal and digital payment services
  • bank transfers

For a full explanation of different payment types, see our lesson on Choosing the right payment method

Localise payment methods

Customers in different markets can have different preferred payment methods, and are likely to want to pay in their local currency.

You need to adapt to how your customers shop locally, and how they pay. Having a payment method on your website or platform which matches the behaviour of your customers reduces the likelihood of them abandoning the shopping basket. In the long run it can also help with your conversion rate (the percentage of visitors who complete a sale).

Even when countries have the same payment method, how they chose to use it can differ. For example, in the Middle East, payments for credit card transactions happen on cash on delivery, rather than when they place the order.

Make sure your customers can pay online

There’s a lot to think about when adapting your payment methods to a local market. Some considerations are:

  1. Find out your customers' preferred payment methods

    You'll be able to find this out by doing online research and speaking with experts – such as independent payment providers for international transactions who specialise in helping businesses like yours abroad.

    You can also talk to your current UK payments provider as they’re likely to have international solutions, and experience of taking payments in your chosen markets.

  2. Enable different symbols and characters on your website

    Some languages use different characters, such as accents on names. And in some cases they use an entirely different alphabet such as Cyrillic in Greece or Hiragana in Japanese. So, make sure you give your users the ability to input payment information in their native language.

  3. Set up your checkout set up for payments in a new market

    Once you know how your customers want to pay, and the currency they’ll be using, you just need to find a payments provider to work with. Most payment providers will give you the option to use a plugin for your checkout.

    The plugin will recognise when a customer is in a certain location, and automatically select which payment options for that country. For example, in Nordics countries they often have payment on invoice, by bank transfer - so this option will be automatically set at the top of the list.

  4. Keep payments secure for your customers

    For example, you may want to consider setting maximum spend caps and look at adding additional layers of authentication for any payment details you store online. And you’ll need to ensure you abide by the data protection rules within the market

    You could also add address verification – so that anything ordered from your website or platform goes to the customers’ agreed delivery addresses.

  5. Adjust your pricing to take account of currency conversions

    The same marketing principles apply abroad. If you convert your pricing into a different currency, make sure it will still encourage customers to buy.

    For example, if something cost £10.99 in the UK and it converted to 12.96 Euros, you may consider resetting the Euro price at 12.99.

    Likewise, you need to adjust pricing for any fees or charges taken by your payment provider for converting to and from a local currency.

  6. Decide if you need to keep payments in different currencies

    You’ll probably want to convert your payments to pounds sterling and keep them in a UK account for simplicity.

    For example, if you have a couple of orders a month from the US and a couple of orders a month from Europe and Africa, you don't need anything more complex than your domestic business account.

    But if you’re a larger business, you may need individual accounts in different currencies. For example, so you can pay your suppliers in a region quickly.

The key is understanding there's different ways for people to pay. Make it as safe and easy as possible for customers to buy. You do not want to give them an excuse to abandon the order.

International trade adviser

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