As the way goods and services are purchased across Europe continues to significantly shift towards internet and mobile payments, the need for smooth electronic transactions across borders is becoming stronger. International commerce is now a common requirement for businesses of all sizes; the rise of a global economy and wide internet availability make it imperative for all but the most local of sites to handle traffic from multiple countries.
Unfortunately, internationalisation of ecommerce systems is sometimes trivialised as being solved with some content translation and handling of different currencies and date formats. The reality is that serving customers from a variety of different economic climates requires a lot more than just displaying the date with the day and the month the right way round.
In a perfect world the ‘internationalisation of ecommerce’ would be a trivial issue. After all there is no technological barrier to trading globally; ecommerce software delivery companies have been providing internationalised systems that allow new territories to be launched in minutes for the best part of a decade.
Payment providers also provide global services meaning that a single payment solution can handle global payment types and currencies. Logistics over multiple territories will require significant investment, but again there is no lack of businesses that can help you achieve global reach physically.
So, the sensible first step to true internationalisation might be to target your neighbouring countries. In Europe this should be simple, right?
In principle, yes. In technology terms, no problem. In reality however, even within the European Union, cross-border transactions can be complicated by challenges such as settlement of payments across borders, restrictions in credit card interoperability and various other challenges that need to be successfully overcome to achieve that first step on the path to global reach for your online business.
In Europe the good news is that there is an emerging vision being championed by the European Commission with the catchy title of the Single European Payment Area (SEPA). The vision for SEPA is a Europe in which there is no distinction between cross-border and domestic payments – Euro and non-Euro payments. This is of course great news for UK businesses with the ambition to expand within Europe.
SEPA is viewed as being the mechanism needed to drive the innovation that will lead to all 10 non-Euro and 17 Euro countries becoming a genuinely secure, efficient and competitive single digital marketplace. The hope is that this will increase choice and transparency for customers, eventually results in greatly improved trust.
If SEPA’s consultation stage, due to report by the end of 2012, is successful, then legislation drafting will follow in 2013. So, all being well, that first European step to global dominance will be made even easier in the coming years. A good news European economy story at last!