Welcome! Bienvenido! 欢迎! English, Spanish, Chinese – the three most widely spoken languages in the world. If you’re a retail business owner and you want to attract international customers, you’re going to have to speak their language and make it easy for them to shop with you. After all, they’re on vacation and have set aside some money for shopping. The more they spend with you, the better! Here are four ways your retail establishment can cater to international customers and earn that extra dollar, pound, peso, yuan… whatever the case may be.
1. Reduce the language and culture barrier. Good business transcends linguistic boundaries, and customer service comes in many tongues. Help your international customers feel welcome by speaking their language. Hire sales associates fluent or conversant in more than one language, and who have sensitivity towards other cultures. Post signs in at least as many languages. If you expect travelers from certain countries that are celebrating certain holidays, decorate your store in recognition of the holiday. Accommodating travelers’ home cultures helps them feel at ease in your store, and they’ll reward you with their business.
2. Offer discounts or promotions to international passport holders. What’s something all travelers need to fly internationally? Their passport. Ensure you target the right audience by offering discounts or promotions to holders of certain passports. Allow photocopies (perhaps with a second ID) because some travelers prefer not to bring their passport outside the hotel. Consider other incentives, like taxi service to and from their hotel. Make sure the word gets out; advertise your promotions through the hotel, or with internet browser and mobile ads targeted for their region and language.
3. Offer tax-free shopping for international customers. Lower prices further for international customers by reimbursing the sales tax for their purchases. Of course, determine for yourself whether the increased sales and turnover are worth the reduced margin on each good; factor in the intangible gain in goodwill among travelers. The United States doesn’t have a federal sales tax – it’s left to the discretion of individual states (Delaware doesn’t have a sales tax except on certain products, for example). Check with the state taxation authority for your retail location to better advise international customers of reimbursement options, if available.
4. Remove the currency exchange barrier. It’s risky to carry large sums of cash – that’s true across cultures. Many customers prefer to pay with credit cards, but spend time calculating exchange rates so they don’t go over budget. Speed up the checkout lines and remove the ambiguity by offering dynamic currency conversion, a service that enables transactions to be converted to travelers’ home currency at the time of sale. (In the interest of transparency, you should advise them this service usually carries a fee.) International customers in the United States spend on average about $4,400 each during their trip; transparency and the convenient option of paying in their home currency builds trust with international customers; they’ll be happier doing business with you and might even spread the word.
The trick to attracting international customers is to reduce barriers and offer incentives. Sounds familiar, right? But it can be a challenge to keep your employees, such as sales associates, on board with all the targeted promotions and policies that can change according to international holidays or traveling trends. These days, every retail company, large or small, needs a unifying platform that allows employees to login and learn policy updates, access promotional details or cross-reference store location data to maximize their own performance and ensure every customer experience – international or domestic – is as seamless and positive as possible.
For many companies, this unifying platform is Microsoft SharePoint. But SharePoint isn’t easy to update on the fly. What makes it exponentially easier is the LiveTiles Design software, which applies a UI overlay to SharePoint, allowing non-developer users (such as a store manager) to update and arrange key elements of the company’s digital workplace as situations change on the floor. Employees can access this portal from their mobile devices, which means during busy shopping sessions, they don’t need to waste time by asking in person to clarify points or answer customer questions – they can look it up themselves, or instant message a colleague elsewhere in the store.
Take a bigger slice of the international customer pie, and make sure your employees are equipped to handle it, with a customizable digital workplace built with LiveTiles Design.