E-commerce localization: How is it done

Christian Kautzsch  |  08.07.2024  |  Time to read 5 Min

The feeling of shopping locally

In international online commerce, Localization means offering foreign customers a local shopping experience. In other words, just as if they were entering a regional shop and shopping locally. If the localization is perfectly implemented, the customer will not even notice that the place of purchase is a foreign web shop. 

What makes localization so important? 

  • It creates trust. 
  • It gives your customers security. 

These two points are key elements in cross-border e-commerce!

Is your logistics ready for internationalization?

Localization affects very different aspects of online shops. The tricky part is that it requires specific expertise. We can help you! 

Our blog focuses on these areas:

  • Local web presence and URL 
  • Country specific product range 
  • Local currency and payment methods
  • Local pricing policy and taxes 
  • Local language and terminology 
  • Local customer service 
  • Local delivery and delivery options 

Are you ready? Then let's dive into the first topic!

Local e-commerce presence

Depending on which market you want to conquer, careful planning of your web presence is extremely important. Images, animations, colours and navigation logistics must be adapted to the specific country. It’s common sense: A web shop in China looks completely different from a European one.

It can be useful to work with local web agencies. If the budget allows it, of course. Because they know the market conditions and customer needs in the target market.

Trusted and local URL - also important for SEO

Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the URL. A local URL with a country-specific ending like .ch, .de or .fr is more trustworthy than one with .org or .net. Local URLs are a bit more complicated to obtain because they can only be obtained from official sources. But it is worth the effort!

Dimensions and other units differ

The dimensions, weights and other units often vary from target market to target market. It is worthwhile adapting these. Otherwise you risk a high bounce rate in your webshop.

Check-out is not just check-out

Also take a close look at the checkout area. Depending on the country, the check-out fields may need to be adjusted. An English address looks different from a Swiss one. Example: In some countries the house number comes before the street name, in others it is the other way round. Postcodes have different lengths with letters or spaces, and it should also be noted that many countries use special characters as standard characters in the language and address.

The legal guidelines that apply to the purchasing process in the individual countries are also relevant at checkout. In Germany, for example, the order button must be marked with "Buy" or "Order subject to payment". In France the two-click rule applies, which must be consideredby the shop operator.

What are the requirements for your Swiss e-commerce customers? You can read about it in our blog.

Country specific product range

If you want to sell your products successfully across borders, there is no way around adapting your product portfolio to the target market. As an online retailer, you need to know the culture, tastes, habits and lifestyles of your target markets. Then you will also achieve a high conversion rate. 

Respect foreign law

The reality of the market is one thing. The other is the legal aspects. There are product restrictions depending on the country. Sometimes an official licence is needed to sell a specific product - for example, cosmetics products in the EU. In some cases, distribution is even prohibited. 

Pro tip:

Are you unsure whether you need a licence to sell your products or whether selling them is allowed at all? Local customs specialists will give you competent advice!

Pro tip:

Are you unsure whether you need a licence to sell your products or whether selling them is allowed at all? Local customs specialists will give you competent advice!

Local currency and payment methods

As soon as your own wallet is at stake, things get serious. This also applies to cross-border e-commerce. Customers react very sensitively when it comes to payment. 

Online merchants who only provide their own currency and a local payment service provider will have a very difficult time in cross-border e-commerce. 

Customers want to pay in their usual currency and with their preferred payment method. This gives them confidence and security.

Also pay attention to the payment process. An impressive figure in this respect: samples in France showed that 92% of online merchants failed to translate the payment process into French (source: Stripe, 2020). 

Did you know: Swiss people prefer to pay by credit card or invoice.Below is an overview of payment methods in Switzerland

How do your Swiss customers want to pay?

Modern shop systems usually offer different currencies automatically. It usually becomes more complex when it comes to payment methods or the payment service provider. Depending on the country of destination, different conditions apply to be able to offer a service provider or payment method.

It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

For example, sometimes it takes a business relationship with a local bank. So before you choose a service provider, it is important to check their conditions and requirements. Especially when using the payment method "purchase on account", you need to be absolutely sure that the provider treats customers correctly and decently. Reminders that are too fast or unjustified will annoy your customers, high reminder fees or a sharp tone can be fatal for the image of your company.

Pro tip:

International e-commerce is all about trust. Currencies, payment methods and service providers play a central role.

Pro tip:

International e-commerce is all about trust. Currencies, payment methods and service providers play a central role.

Local pricing policy and taxes

Selling across borders also means pursuing a differentiated pricing and tax policy - adapted to the target country. On the site of the customs administration you will find the relevant information about the price labeling.

Pricing policy means setting the right prices and tax rates for the destination country. Prices and discounts must be adapted to local conditions. This is important for legal reasons on the one hand, but also from a conversion perspective on the other hand

In some countries, for example, it makes sense to set threshold prices. In others, it would be counterproductive. The same applies to forms of promotion. A promo that works well in country X may not go down well in country Y.

Local language and terminology

Despite globalisation, we all prefer to shop where our language is spoken. Even if English is now widely spread, it will never achieve the same conversion rate as the language of the target market.

It's just the way it is: customers feel more comfortable and also more secure in an e commerce websitethat communicates in their mother tongue. They feel more at home andmisunderstandings can be avoided. 

But be careful with online translations: Your customers will not be fooled and will quickly notice whether the text is from a translation tool or really from a native speaker. 

Take German as an example: Swiss people are sensitive to High German expressions that they would never use in this way. So small nuances make all the difference.

Local customer service

You have now professionally translated your webshop into the language of the target market - great! Now it is important that your customer service is also involved, oral and written.

The distances are much greater in cross-border e-commerce than in domestic trade. This is why a customer-friendly, competent and eloquent customer service makes all the difference. And thus testifies to true localization in cross-border e-commerce. 

When it comes to localization: Language is one thing - culture is another

Of course, customer service should not only know the polished language but also the shopping culture of the target market. This is the only way to ensure a highly professional and likeable approach.

Equally important: customer service must be accessible with country-specific communication tools - online and offline.

Local deliverers and delivery options

Logistics is key in international e-commerce. But it is also becoming increasingly complex. Today's customers are demanding: everything must be faster, cheaper and better.

Therefore choose your logistics and delivery partners carefully. We have summarisedthe most important criteria for you here so that you can make the right choice:

  • Good delivery network in target market with customer-friendly delivery options
  • Good price-performance ratio
  • Fast transit times 
  • High delivery quality and first delivery rate 
  • Simple returns solution 
  • Simple webshop connection options and label generation 
  • Good e-commerce know-how
  • Friendly and competent customer service for the retaileras well as for a extraordinary customer experience

Logistics is the be-all and end-all

Not only customer service, but also logistics has a great influence on your image as a seller. If logistics problems are part of the daily routine, your expansion success will be delayed.

Logistics plays an important role in internationalization. You can find everything about the KPIs for internationalization and what role logistics plays in it in our blog.

There is no better delivery partner for the Swiss market than Swiss Post. It is considered extremely reliable by Swiss people thanks to its dense delivery network, high delivery quality and popularity. 

Swiss Post is therefore the perfect partner for foreign retailers looking for a customer-friendly, reliable, fast and cost-effective shipping solution. 


Swiss Post also offers a highly efficient DDP customs clearance solution. This makes your customers feel at home when shopping - they do not have to worry about customs duties or VAT. You can find everything about customer-satisfying DDP customs clearance on our blog.

You want to ship to Switzerland, but you still lack the facts? Our Switzerland E-Commerce Report provides you with the information you need.

Conclusion on localization in e-commerce

In summary, e-commerce localization is critical to the success of an online retailer doing business across borders. Despite globalisation and international networking, consumers want the local shopping experience when they shop. Simply because there is security and trust.

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