International eCommerce: Optimising Online Payment for Cross-Border Transactions

In this ever more interconnected world, eCommerce consumers are increasingly shopping abroad. According to one study of online spending, 62% of German consumers now make transactions across borders, while 66% in France and 69% in the UK do the same.

Across Europe – and around the world – cross-border transactions are now the norm for eCommerce.

In this series of articles, we’re showing you how to optimise your online payments. So far, we’ve covered these themes:

But the reality is that you can’t afford to optimise your online payments for your domestic audience only. In today’s international eCommerce context, you need to make payment as accessible, frictionless, and enjoyable as possible for cross-border customers too.

In this final article in our series, we’ll be showing you how to do just that. We’ll be looking at how to optimise your user experience for international customers, and what you can do to minimise cross-border payment declines. And we’ll show you what CCV can do to help.

But let’s start with why. Here’s why attending to your international customers is so urgent.

Why Optimise Your Online Payments for International Customers? Opportunities and Obstacles

Across Europe and the world, recent years have seen a dramatic growth in international eCommerce sales – and there’s no sign that it’s slowing any time soon. For eCommerce brands who are serious about growth, keeping up with this trend is crucial.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • While 2020 was a difficult year for cross-border trade in general due to COVID-19, eCommerce provided one hopeful exception. Cross-border eCommerce sales saw double-digit growth throughout the year, despite pandemic lockdowns.
  • According to estimates, the value of cross-border eCommerce transactions reached $578 billion in 2019. By 2026, that’s expected to hit $2,248 billion, a growth of nearly 400%.
  • According to research from DHL, one in every five eCommerce dollars is now generated through cross-border transactions. Your international audience could be a serious revenue stream for you too.
  • More customers are shopping across borders, but they’re doing it more frequently too. In the UK and France, 15% of customers are buying internationally every week.

Obstacles to Cross-Border Transactions

Yet, while we are seeing dramatic growth in international eCommerce transactions worldwide, not every business is benefiting. Rather, there are some problems that are still getting in the way of smooth cross-border transactions. For example:

    • Payment declines. 20% of businesses say that over 15% of cross-border customer transactions are rejected by issuers due to suspected fraud. Meanwhile, only a third of businesses report a rate below 5%. When the average rate of payment declines on domestic transactions is 2.6%, your international customers are receiving a significantly worse customer experience. But this is something you can change.
    • Poor localisation. International customers continue to be put off by a lack of localised payment methods, an untrustworthy checkout, and unfamiliar currencies—alongside high shipping costs and complex returns. Again, though, you have the power to make this easier.
    • Security concerns. Across Europe, a lack of trust in payment processes is one of the three most common reasons why customers abandon cross-border checkouts. As a result, showing customers that they can trust you should be a priority.

So, what can you do to make transactions smoother for all of your customers? Let’s take a look.

How to Optimise Cross-Border Transactions

Commit to Localisation

Let’s start with localisation. International customers want to see payment pathways in their native language, prices in their local currencies, and address fields formatted for their country. Giving them what they demand is key to optimising your customer experience.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Create pages in local languages. A website in English – a language spoken by a quarter of all internet users – is a must. But Spanish, Portuguese, and French are important worldwide, while German is crucial for European brands too. But don’t just translate your product or payment pages. Following up with customers in their local languages will help bring them back in the future.
  • Use dynamic currency conversion (DCC). Your local currency can be a default for payment. But to support users who want to pay in different currencies, using opt-in tools like DCC can help. The benefit is not just for customers. These tools make it easier for you to manage international payments as well.
  • Optimise data fields. It’s frustrating for users when payment portals don’t recognise their addresses, phone numbers, or postcodes. Data fields that can capture diverse information is a minimum requirement for welcoming international customers.
  • Make delivery and payment information immediately available. International users shouldn’t have to waste their time to find costs for cross-border shipment. Make delivery information as clear as possible and you’ll be reducing one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment.

Make Security a Priority

Over a quarter of cart abandonments happen due to a lack of confidence in security. Yet, when customers are shopping internationally, their trust in your security has an even greater impact on their buying decisions.

Simply, if customers don’t feel secure, they won’t shop with you. In this context, here’s how you can ensure they trust you:

  • Include familiar logos throughout the checkout process. Half of customers look for trustmarks such as those of VISA, 3D Secure, or your payment services provider when shopping on unfamiliar websites. Including these will show customers you are serious about their safety.
  • Optimise your design. A well-designed, professional-looking website is another important factor that affects trust. That’s not just in your store-front, but in your payment pathway too.
  • Provide contact details. A common concern among customers shopping across borders is that an eCommerce store is simply not a legitimate site. Providing an address or phone number can help to ease these fears.

Recognise that Customers Pay Differently

Around the world, different countries speak, eat, travel, and play differently. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they pay differently too. That means that what’s preferred as a payment method in the UK may not be a favourite in Italy or Spain.

Letting customers pay the way they prefer will be key to localising your store.

But how to make that happen?

  • Offer a choice of payment. In the Netherlands, iDEAL is used for over half of all eCommerce transactions. In Italy, PayPal and PostePay are preferred. Buy-now-pay-later solutions such as Klarna are increasingly popular throughout Europe too. Offering them all will improve the experience of every user.
  • Enable payment through digital wallets. Digital wallets like Apple Pay are expected to account for over half of global eCommerce payments by 2023. They integrate a range of different payment methods to keep your customers happy – and handle your authentication obligations for you.
  • Go mobile-first. Mobile has accounted for half of website traffic globally since 2017. Meanwhile, a majority of eCommerce sales are now estimated to be on mobile. To appeal to everyone, offer a well-designed, optimised, and frictionless experience on mobile too.

Reduce Payment Declines on Cross-Border Transactions

We know that cross-border transactions are more likely to be declined than domestic transactions (in some cases, ten times more likely). This can have a massive impact on your customers’ experience, and it’s likely to affect your bottom line too.

Luckily, there are ways to improve your rate of payment authorisation – and to capture the revenue that could be lost through false declines:

  • Work with local acquirers. Many eCommerce brands open bank accounts in the local territories in which they operate. This will make declines less likely, but it can make life a bit more complex for SMEs.
  • Use an international payment services provider. PSPs like CCV can be your payment facilitator. We’ll be your one touchpoint with acquirers in different territories – to make handling cross-border payments smoother for both you and your customers.
  • Know your regulations. Payment regulations change depending on which region of the world you and your customers are in. For eCommerce brands operating across Europe, you’ll need to comply with the EU’s revised payment services directive (PSD2). That means ensuring strong customer authentication on all of your transactions. Find out more here.

How CCV Helps You Manage International Payments

At CCV, our payment services make it easier for you to manage, authenticate, and process domestic and international payments. That means simpler processes for you – and a frictionless experience for your customers.

Here’s some of what we can do for you.

  • We’ll guide you through the maze of regulation. We can advise on 3D Secure 2.0, PSD2, and other international payment regulations. The payment world can feel like a jungle for small eCommerce brands, but you don’t have to navigate it alone.
  • We can offer tailored solutions to improve your authorisation rates. Every brand has different optimisation needs. We can help you access data on your authorisation rates – and advise on how to keep them to a minimum.
  • We’ll help limit the costs of chargebacks on fraudulent transactions. Fraud comes at a cost to you and your customers. We can help keep those costs low, to increase your revenue.

Make payment easier for you and your customers. At CCV, we make payment happen for thousands of different businesses already. Let us help you too.