“We are a small Australian company planning to launch into export. What makes a great export website?” EDWIN KULLER answers.
“We are a small Australian company planning to launch into export. What makes a great export website?”
Edwin Kuller answers: An export website performs three essential tasks – you need to understand them if you are to make the web work for you.
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Task one: Establish your business’s credibility
As an exporter, your website will often be the first point of contact between your company and a prospective customer. Your website must make the visitor feel at ease and reassured that your company is capable, reliable and worth doing business with.
The best way to do this is to provide information describing who you are and what you do. Evidence of capability such as customer case studies and testimonials (including domestic customers) is effective.
Prospective export customers also like to see security and privacy statements on your website. It puts them at ease and encourages them to contact you via email, perhaps leave their email address or complete transactions on your website.
Task two: Make it easy to use
Your website design should make it easy for visitors to find information and complete tasks such as purchasing a product or sending an enquiry. A well-designed website may display product information in the form of a catalogue, list sales support or provide distribution information. It also allows the visitor to place an order or purchase a product.
Users today expect their web experience to be timely and intuitive. The usability of your website is important and will shape user perceptions of your business. A “clunky” shopping cart experience will colour the users’ perception of your company and put your product/service in a negative light.
It is also important to make sure you should have no hidden costs when providing pricing information on your website. Make sure you disclose all information regarding warranty, returns policy and liabilities.
For markets where English is not the main language, you don’t necessarily need to translate your whole website. Consider translating key pages (home page, product/service information, contact details) into the language of the user. Don’t rely on computer translations: accuracy and cultural understanding is critical.
Task three: Encourage users to revisit and reuse your website
A good way to do this is to constantly refresh the information on your website, give fixed period product or service offers, provide free information, and use email newsletters containing your website address to direct users back to the website.
In addition, the area of after-sales service, which is sometimes under-resourced or even overlooked by companies looking to find the next customer or sale, is important. The provision of customer/partner-only pages (using password access) containing technical specifications, product development information, patches and upgrades for software products, and even a forum area for discussion can build loyalty and result in re-buys and referrals.
12 tips for a good exporter website
Does the website:
1. Show organisation details adequately?
2. Use case-studies/testimonials to build credibility?
3. Support other sales channels such as the distributor network?
4. Provide current and frequently updated information?
5. Provide information in different languages? Should it?
6. Provide an email newsletter function?
7. Encourage the user to provide their email address for follow up?
8. Have a site-map?
10. Have a security policy?
11. Provide free information such as downloads to encourage revisits?
12. Support your business by being user-friendly?
Edwin Kuller is Austrade’s e-business Adviser, providing strategic and operational advice to companies who wish to enhance their e-business effectiveness in export markets. He works closely with Austrade industry specialists to promote e-business as an enabler to generating international business benefit.