Overcoming the language & cultural barrier in e-commerce business

A recent study has shown that international commerce, or cross-border e-commerce, has been gaining so much momentum that by the year 2020, more than 900 million people from all over the world will become international shoppers.

That does not necessarily apply only to large companies, but to smaller ones as well, who may just be starting out at the moment but that will need to consider preparing themselves to join the global market.

The global market, however, comes with its own challenges, both language and cultural-wise. As long as you have a plan and follow a few simple rules, though, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of connecting to the countless shoppers around the world.


One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming everyone speaks English. Sure, there are customers who do, but maybe not well enough to encounter a smooth shopping process. They may even lose interest in your business altogether if they feel that the buying process is too complex and requires too much effort regarding translation.

So do your customers and yourself a favor and provide them with their best shopping experience yet by offering information in their language. Additionally, make sure this information is presented in a very clear and easy to understand way and that you use professional translating experts that will make everything sound like it would have been written in their native language.


If you’ve been thinking about expanding internationally, then you’ll need to think about expanding your team as well. Recruiting the right people with the right bilingual/multilingual skills for your team is crucial. They need to be reliable, and you need to make sure they have the knowledge and the experience necessary to help you move forward.


In an ideal situation, when you’re expanding internationally, you offer your customers the possibility of paying in their currency. However, this is not always possible, so the least you can do for your customers is display your prices in different currencies (at least three main ones). Don’t let them waste their time and use currency converters on their own. Shoppers can get impatient, and it’s you’ll lose them over the hassle of trying to figure out even the smallest details.

Payment methods

Research on what the most utilised form of payment is in the specific country you are targeting and if possible, try to include it in your future optimized website version. That will help with gaining your customers’ trust and showing that their needs and preferences are important to you.

Of course, the process of internationally expanding your e-commerce business can sometimes come with a cost. That being said, be mindful of every decision you make, financial-wise, and make sure you won’t be losing money in the process.

Do your market research, hire a specialist payment provider, make sure to stay in control of your cash flow, secure your business from currency exchange risks and have a well-thought currency strategy that can prevent currency shocks affecting your business.

However, don’t let language and cultural differences stop your business’ growth! Take advantage of the ever-changing and evolving market situation and hop aboard the international train. Be mindful of cultural differences, take them into account and integrate them into your expansion strategy.

Start reaching out to the global public!