By Pete Rizzo, Editor (@pete_rizzo_)
If you've ever been to a McDonald's overseas, you've learned one valuable lesson: no matter how good your product is, the key to growing globally is tailoring your strategy to the needs of local areas.
As a result, it's no surprise that economic observers predicted that eCommerce companies, and the online payment services that power them, would need to adopt successful local strategies in order to thrive in the global market.
"Expect to see more websites based on traditional design aesthetics including the use of local color preferences, local language, local offers and essentially local products and services," Usability Geek wrote in February.
So far this prediction has proven accurate. After years of expanding internationally with a one-size-fits-all approach, major players are rethinking how they tackle smaller problems in 2013. PayPal, for example, recently augmented its core service for consumers in Russia and the Middle East.
However, it isn't the only online payment solution that's putting local at the forefront of its plans. Boston-based global payment service provider BlueSnap specializes in assisting clients that want to operate in local languages and accept local currencies and payment types to expand around the globe.
How does BlueSnap plan to continue to innovate for global eCommerce providers and what is it predicting will be the future of local payments? PYMNTS.com spoke to CEO Ralph Dangelmaier for answers.
PYMNTS.com:BlueSnap has been active in the payments sector for over a year now, but some of our readers might not be familiar with your service. For the uninitiated, can you provide a bit about what sets BlueSnap apart from other payment services catering to the eCommerce community?
Ralph Dangelmaier: BlueSnap is a global payment service provider powering the checkout process for eCommerce merchants worldwide, and fueling growth for online businesses serving digital, physical and mobile markets. BlueSnap has reinvented the checkout experience by combining the power of four key components: seamless integration into the storefront, global payment processing, our award winning smart subscriptions for recurring payments, and dynamic marketing tools to optimize potential at checkout. We also serve as a global international gateway into many global acquirers.
Because of its rich platform, BlueSnap is uniquely positioned to address the eCommerce, payments and marketing needs of merchants in a single, integrated, advanced platform. BlueSnap makes buying fast and simple. It stores merchants’ credit card information for returning shoppers, so each additional purchase takes just a click of the BuyNow button on any page. (Think "iTunes" buying on eCommerce sites.) Subscription renewals are automated and streamlined. Dozens of global payment types are accepted, ranging from credit cards to alternative payments, eWallets and wire and bank transfers, with automatic localization by geography.
Mobile commerce has become the buzziest word in eCommerce and is part of BlueSnap’s DNA, with support for multiple platforms, using its Advanced SNAP MOBILE technology. Simply put, BlueSnap makes merchants more successful in the new eCommerce world.
A big selling point to your service is assisting customers with overseas expansions. Can you talk about what makes BlueSnap the best choice for eCommerce players who are looking to take this step?
Many merchants are deterred from selling globally by difficulties navigating the complex payments ecosystem of banks, credit card networks and payment processors. The payments world gets even more complex when global payments are added into the mix. For merchants, trying to process payments globally in different currencies and payment types can be a logistical nightmare. If you are a merchant, ask yourself: can my customers pay me using only money transfers? If the answer is no, you are missing out on the biggest chunk of the global market. Most North American merchants accept just a few payment methods, with cards and PayPal at the top of the list.
In fact, it’s not easy to get out into a broader, global market. Each region has its own flavors of payments, not to mention currency, language and cultural differences. A truly global merchant needs to handle more than 250 different payment types around the world. It’s no wonder that only the largest brands succeed on a global basis. A large merchant can invest on a region-by-region basis, but other merchants are left out of the global market, based on the sheer complexity of the challenge. The way to overcome this challenge is to integrate a payment platform - either through a third-party or within an existing model - that can handle the complexity of payment so the merchant can spend time taking orders rather than figuring out payments. BlueSnap has the capability and expertise to handle global payments from A to Z.
Can you provide a specific example where BlueSnap was able to help a merchant navigate this transition with statistics that show how BlueSnap helped its growth?
One-Hour Translation provides professional translation services in 75 languages to international enterprise customers and prides itself on being the fastest professional translation service in the world. Due to the global nature of its business, One Hour Translation turned to BlueSnap to handle customer payments from all around the world. BlueSnap’s eCommerce and payments platform supports online shoppers in 180 countries by localizing the experience with 28 languages, 60 currencies and 110 payment types, as well as one-click payments anywhere in the world.
With BlueSnap, One Hour Translation can collect payments from international clients in multiple currencies and payment methods accepted in each and every country while minimizing chargebacks and exposure to currency exchange rates.
One Hour Translation customers can purchase credits through the BlueSnap platform and then use those credits toward translation services. With BlueSnap’s one-click application programming interface (API), returning customers can purchase additional credits using the BuyNow button. They don't need to launch another browser window or re-enter payment information, making it easy for customers to pay quickly and securely.
One of the things your company has stressed in recent months is that going local is the key to attracting customers. With eCommerce in particular, how do you expect the local trend to evolve over the next six months to a year? How does BlueSnap aim to keep up with this trend?
Reaching global markets is one of the biggest challenges for online businesses. According to a recent eMarketer report, eCommerce sales grew 21.1 percent to top $1 trillion for the first time in 2012 and will grow 18.3 percent to $1.2 trillion worldwide with Asia-Pacific surpassing North America to become the world's number one market for eCommerce sales. These figures clearly indicate that there is a huge opportunity for merchants to sell outside their regions and tap into other global markets.
Based on the feedback we receive from our customers, we firmly believe that customizing the eCommerce experience to add local flavor is the most important factor in converting more shoppers into buyers. Customers and merchants prefer to do business in their local language, currency and payment type. There is no doubt that adapting to local cultures and payment types is the key to attracting more customers from around the world.
BlueSnap launched in 2012 to better serve the middle of the eCommerce market, businesses that weren't quite SMBs and weren't enterprise level. What has been the biggest challenge to date of serving this market? Are you planning on expanding your target demographic anytime soon?
Interestingly, we have found over the past year that our potential market is broader than we had expected because eCommerce merchants of various sizes across many industries are dealing with the same issues. For example, Disruptor Beam, the game developer in Boston, recently launched their Game of Thrones Ascent, based on the very popular show on HBO, with BlueSnap behind seamless payments in the course of their multiplayer online games. When you want to buy a coin or a weapon, everything you need for payment appears right on the page. BeautyMotive is another great example of an innovative eCommerce business that uses BlueSnap for payments. It gives young vloggers the opportunity to share their beauty tips with sponsorships by cosmetics and personal care brands. BeautyMotive is creating new vlogger superstars every day.
Because our market is so broad and horizontal, and our offering is so comprehensive, our biggest challenge is building awareness about the BlueSnap brand. We've been moving into new markets outside the U.S., too. Our roots are international, in Israel's sophisticated high tech community, so we're excited about opening an office in the UK, as part of our EMEA expansion.