4 Ways to Help your eCommerce Site Go Global

Are you following web design trends in China?

I know, that’s quite an expected question to receive.

That’s okay if you’re not, at least until you decide to expand internationally and enter the Chinese market. You see, this country – like many other ones – has a unique web design culture based on the nature of the local language, so designing a site according to Chinese web design trends could be a good idea.

Localizing the website for a specific target audience has become an important consideration for any company looking to expand internationally. What can you do, selling to different countries requires a strong commitment to research and cultural understanding, and web design is a big part of that.

The importance of this is very well-established; for example, this 2012 study found that more than 72 percent of online shoppers preferred to buy products from websites in their own language. Moreover, a lot of them are even willing to pay more if businesses give them information in their native languages.

In this article, let’s go over the things you need to know before designing an international eCommerce website so you know how to adapt to the needs of foreign customers. We’ll talk about design, copy, payment methods, and responsive design, which are mandatory success requirements for all international businesses

  1. Try Copy-First Web Design

If you’re looking to design an international eCommerce website from scratch, then this technique could be very useful to get off to a good start. A copy-first web design method requires you to come up with the copy for web pages before creating the actual design. This helps to plan the website content and avoid time-consuming structural changes.

For example, if you’re designing a subpage for the Chinese market or a new, multilingual website, start by having a copywriter produce the entire copy in the target language (or translate the English version, for example).

Chances are high that you’ll discover differences in length and structure of the two versions because of the language differences. If you have exactly the same design for both versions, it’s possible that one of the versions simply “won’t fit.” To avoid that, you can begin with the text and proceed with the design.

The website of a well-known clothing seller GAP is an excellent example of that. For example, take a look at the main menu as well as a submenu in the English version ( below.

Source: Screenshot


Now, let’s see the Chinese version of the same website, While the number of the items in the main menu as well as the overall design (brand colors, website menu) remains largely the same, the length of the copy clearly differs.

Source: Screenshot


This required the designers to change the order of the menu items and make other design-related decisions  – sitemap, etc. – differently than in the original version. On the other hand, if the design for the localized version was already completed, you’d face a lot of difficulties with decluttering the space and optimizing the text, which may lead to unexpected changes.

By adopting the copy-first approach for your international eCommerce website project, you can eliminate a lot of revisions and unnecessary stress, as the approach requires teamwork and prioritizes user experience.

  1. Localize Your Design & Copy

As you probably already know, localization goes well beyond translation and includes such important aspects as

  • Dates
  • Currency
  • Spelling
  • Checkout considerations, e.g. some prices may be displayed with commas instead of decimals
  • Sizes and measurements. Many countries have different size and measurement interpretation, so don’t confuse your potential customers by including U.S. sizes.

For example, here’s the checkout page from the English version of Gap’s page. Notice the position of the main elements as well as the color of the CTA.

Source: Screenshot

Now, let’s take a look at the Chinese version of the checkout page. The difference is obvious, as it uses a different structure as well as the CTA color.

Source: Screenshot


While writing the copy for eCommerce websites, it’s important to pay attention to all elements that contribute to a great overall experience. This, of course, requires a good knowledge of the target culture and language peculiarities. That’s why the task of copy localization is often delegated to professional services, the reviews of which you can read at sites like The Word Point.

So the bottom line here is that you need to make a visitor feel at home and make it easy for them to navigate around.

  1. Make Sure the Website Has a Localized, Secure Payment Method

Card payments and PayPay are the most common payment methods in the U.S., but are just a few examples of a great variety of methods available to international customers. That’s why making sure that your international website provides payment options that are widely used in target markets is critical to the overall success of your venture.

The best strategy here is to accept as many payment methods as you possibly can, which means that you’ll have to do your homework and research the market before hitting the local scene. However, keep in mind that all of the method you add to your website should be secure and support the latest protection measures.

Also remember that your website needs an SSL certificate in order to ensure confidential and secure online payments. It’s a protocol that encrypts online transactions, thus protecting sensitive data such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers from being stolen by cybercriminals.

  1. Make Sure Your Website is Responsive

Online shoppers in many countries are becoming increasingly comfortable with mobile eCommerce. For example, in China, revenues of retailers from selling on mobile are rapidly increasing, according to the South China Morning Post. Specifically, over three-quarters of the local online shoppers buy online from their mobile devices.

This trend is supported by many other countries, which once again proves that the shift to mobile eCommerce is in progress. In fact, Google has recently adjusted its search algorithms to prioritize mobile-friendly, responsive designs in search results. Other search engines are also expected to follow suit.

This means that having a responsive design for your eCommerce website is a must to provide the best possible experience for international customers. Google’s free Mobile-Friendly test will help you to check if you’re good to go.

Do Your Homework

Selling to international customers is a whole new ballgame. You may be tempted to get going as soon as possible, but this could be a risky strategy, given all of the mandatory requirements that you have to meet. Take your time, do your homework and always make sure that your decisions have the interests of your target audience as a priority.

As you start to expand your business abroad, don’t forget to have fun, too. Selling abroad is a bit like traveling abroad, so it’s an adventure that will have a profound impact on your business and success as an entrepreneur.



Erica Sunarjo is a translator with more than ten years of work experience. Currently, she works as a blogger. She likes to discuss topics related to translation services, content localization, and digital marketing. Apart from work, she enjoys reading books, riding horses, and scuba diving.

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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