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Cosmin Software

E-Commerce Globalization

Overcoming International Barriers related to e-Commerce
By Cosmin Smeu  

    One of the great things about the internet is that with a 
credit card merchant account you can sell your product or 
service anywhere around the world with much ease.

    To maximize the global reach of your products and services,
it is vital to provide international customers with web pages
localized in their native language, and customized to their 
cultural surroundings, and customs.

    Simply translating your web site, into various languages is 
a very important first step, but it is not enough.  When doing 
business internationally, besides language, you have to pay close
attention to measurement units, currencies, and time and dates.


    People prefer to speak, interact, and do business in their 
own language, for one obvious reason: because it is easier for 
them to do so.  Therefore having your web site available in
their language significantly increases the chances that they'll
choose you instead of your competitors, and that they will
successfully complete transactions on your site.


    There are various measurement systems used around the world,
the 2 leading ones being the metric, and the British Imperial 
systems.  Contrary to popular belief the Imperial units used in 
the USA and the UK, are not all identical.  There are variations
between the American and British units when it comes to tons, 
ounces, pints, gallons, and a few other units.

    Whether you are US/UK based and try to expand overseas, or 
whether you are from a metric country trying to expand in the US
or the UK, it is strategically important to provide product 
specs in both the metric and imperial units.  Gallons and Feet 
don't mean anything to someone in Germany or Japan, just like 
centiliters, and cubic meters, might not mean anything to 
someone in the USA or Britain.


    Besides measurement units, currencies play a major role in
successfully targeting international customers.  I would 
recommend that you provide prices (or estimates) in at least the
following currencies:  US Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Japanese 
Yens; plus many others depending on your product or service, and
to whom you are targeting it.

	The introduction of the Euro currency in Europe, will 
greatly facilitate doing business within the EU,  and both
European as well as non-European companies (especially web based
ones) will benefit a lot from Euro's debut.

	You have to be careful when posting prices in various 
currencies, because exchange rates fluctuate daily.  I 
recommend that you state the actual price in your currency of 
use, and mention that all price quotations in various other 
currencies are mere estimates.  Also credit card companies 
charge currency conversion fees to your foreign customers 
whenever they buy across borders, from a foreign store that 
uses a different currency.

Time & Date

    If you list customer support phone numbers and office hours
on your site, you should mention for which time zone those hours
apply.  Perhaps you should even list the same office hours 
relative to other time zones.  In many countries around the 
world where there is a single time zone in use, people there
tend to believe that the entire world is one time zone, that 
observes the same time as they do.  As a result a lot of 
frustrations and inconveniences may arise both for your business
staff and your clients.

Phone Prefixes and Country Codes

    With phone numbers, don't forget to list the country's 
telephone code (prefix), so that international customers may 
reach you easily.  Speaking of codes, a good way of tracking 
current and potential customers, is the 2 letter country code 
used by web site domains, and e-mail addresses.  If you get 
many inquiry e-mails that end with .kr, then perhaps there is a 
sudden interest in your product from people in Korea.  Or if 
your web site access logs show a lot of visitors from domains 
ending in .de, then Germans are flocking to your web site.  
Those 2 letter codes can give you a lot of information about 
the success of your international ad & promotion campaigns, as 
well as knowledge of where there is interest (or lack of) in 
your company.


    I recommend that you try to accommodate as much as possible,
an international audience to your web site, no matter where you
are based in the world.  In this highly competitive world, every
sale counts, and your competitor is just a few seconds or clicks

    There are various software utilities and web sites that 
provide you with information and assistance on measurement 
units, currency exchange rates, and information on time zones.
If you have the means, you may even hire globalization 
consultants or firms to review and revise your web sites.


Cosmin Smeu is the creator of Globex, a useful Windows 
application comprising of various tools such as a "World Clock",
a "Currency Exchanger", a "Measurement Converter", and a 
"Country Codes Browser"!

Download your FREE TRIAL copy of Globex at:

You may reach Cosmin at 

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