When deciding to expand your eCommerce business into new markets, there are a lot of details to consider. To increase conversions, you’ll want to give your new customers an experience that is as close to “local” as possible. The first initial steps to consider when localizing your eCommerce shop naturally include topics such as translating your website and setting up a functioning logistical infrastructure. But the process doesn’t stop there – you should also take regional currencies and payment preferences into account. You might expect that most eCommerce shoppers will pay with credit cards, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Preferred payment methods vary widely throughout Europe. To convert as many customers as possible, you need to make sure that you offer regional payment options they are accustomed to and trust.

Localized Payment Options Are Key

If prospective buyers can pay with their preferred and trusted payment method, the chance that they will actually complete the purchase increases. In this way, you can ensure your customers’ satisfaction on the one hand and avoid shopping cart abandonment on the other. But if you want to offer payment in local currencies – which you should – you’ll need the right back-end technology. Universal product data in a headless eCommerce infrastructure will make it easy for you to manage your product catalog across different storefronts and currencies. Incidentally, universal product data will make all other parts of the localization process more feasible as well, from updating product descriptions and images to price changes and inventory management.

Setting up the payment infrastructure to support several different payment processors or PaaS providers can be complex and time-consuming. And services like payment by invoice and cash on delivery could increase your risk if you don’t have seamless parcel tracking available. Fortunately, there are service providers who specialize in international payment processing, and they can serve as a one-stop shop to get you set up and ready to serve your customers quickly and easily.

The most popular payment methods vary from country to country throughout Europe, so you should definitely do your research before setting up a shop in a potential new target market. Although credit cards and PayPal payments are gaining in popularity, you’ll improve your conversions if you don’t rely on them alone.

Continental Europe: Digital Payments

In continental Europe, credit card ownership ranges from around 35% in Portugal to around 51% in Germany and Spain. However, although Germans own credit cards, they prefer not to pay with them for online purchases. For many years, the open invoice was Germany’s preferred method of payment, but that has now shifted to digital banking payments such as PayPal, Klarna, GiroPay, or payment by direct debit. Digital banking payments account for a total of 60% of purchases in Germany.

UK: Credit Cards as Preference

In the UK, credit card ownership is considerably higher at around 62% and the cards are used far more frequently for online shopping. In 2019, 53% of online payments were made by card, while digital wallets such as PayPal accounted for 27% of transactions. Looking ahead to 2023, however, the number of card payments is expected to slowly decline, while digital wallets and bank transfers are expected to gain in popularity.

Eastern Europe: COD rules

In Eastern Europe on the other hand, the situation is looking slightly different. For example, according to Statista, less than a fifth of people living in Poland (21%), Bulgaria (16%), Hungary (15%), and Romania (15%) even own credit cards. Cash on delivery (COD) is the most popular payment method in Eastern Europe, with 72% of eCommerce transactions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, 69% in Romania, 53% in Slovenia, and 54% in Hungary being paid for with COD. There are also a wide variety of digital wallets used in the different eastern European countries, such as PayU, which is popular in Poland.

Regional Payment Preferences Really Do Make a Difference

Giving your customers the experience they want and gaining their trust is an especially important part of entering and succeeding in new target markets. To fully localize your eCommerce shop, you’ll need to communicate in the local language, work with experienced local logistic partners, and offer local currency and regional payment methods. This can be a complex undertaking, but fortunately, you can seek out the help of strong partners that are specialized in setting up the technical infrastructure for you and can draw from extensive networks in your targeted region.