Cross Border Commerce

Language, Currency And Convenience: PayPal Research Affirms Key Elements To X-Border Sales

Consumers, of course, who value convenience as measured by multiple languages and currencies on merchant sites. The April edition of the PYMNTS X-Border Payments Optimization Tracker™ digs into the results of a recent PayPal study that confirms what the last three quarters of the X-Border Payments Optimization Index™ has revealed: merchants make x-border payments anything but convenient. That analysis plus the profiles of more than 80 players who are trying to help those merchants over the hump.

Earlier this year, PayPal released a study that looked closer at the strategy of cross-border businesses in the United States. The results of the study were eye-opening and confirmed many of the trends noted in the Q1’s X-Border Payments Optimization Index.

The Index’s first key finding reports that consumers value their time and money over all other factors. Now, more than ever, consumers expect to be able to purchase what they want, when they want and from wherever they want.

“Pages and Clicks to Checkout are down. Number of Payment Options are up. Nearly across the board,” the Index warns. “Merchants need to keep up and continue to optimize their sites if they want to attract savvy cross-border consumers. It appears the competition isn’t sitting still in this marketplace.”

PayPal’s study backs up the Index’s assertion that convenience will be key for international merchants. According to the research from PayPal and Ipsos, merchants who offer multiple languages and currencies are the most likely to find success.

According to PayPal’s research, U.S. businesses looking to increase their overseas sales should make sure their sites can be read in the local language and are customized to individual locations. In Brazil, for example, 57 percent of shoppers said that they weren’t comfortable buying from international sites that cannot be read in their native language.

What’s more, one of PayPal’s chief findings shows that companies that allow customers to conduct transactions in their native currency are “more likely to find sales success.” Among the top export markets for U.S. merchants, more than 30 percent say that the option to pay for their purchase with their own currency makes them more likely to shop across borders.

The outcomes of those consumer preferences is mirrored in the data in PYMNTS’ Q1 Index. The Index’s second key finding emphasizes the importance of accessibility in the international marketplace.

“The top sites continue to push on the depth and breadth of ‘faces’ they display to consumers and set themselves apart by doing so,” the Index notes.

Specifically, it predicted some notable similar outcomes to the PayPal study. For example, 60 percent of the Index’s most successful cross-border merchants offered at least six languages, and 80 percent offered at least six currencies.

According to the Index, and PayPal’s research, while localization and customization may be more difficult for businesses to offer, they are the keys for merchants looking to unlock international sales.

“While this functionality remains the most difficult to implement given that it may impact the entire site, the best in breed still differentiate themselves with these features,” the Index notes. “Merchants desiring to be the best should pay attention.”

And there is good reason why merchants should want to be the best. According to research from both PayPal and the Index, there is lots of money to be made in international sales.

“Fifty-seven percent of respondents from 24 countries on six continents had shopped from an eCommerce site beyond their own borders in that time frame,” the Index reads. And, according to PayPal’s research, that high percentage of sales could mean big profits for merchants. The research found that global sales can drive twice the revenue of domestic-only businesses.

Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in the cross-border industry? Make sure to check for the Q2 X-Border Payments Optimization Index, scheduled to be released in June.


To download the April edition of the PYMNTS X-Border Payments Optimization Tracker, click the button below.


About The Tracker

The PYMNTS X-Border Payments Optimization Tracker™ is designed to provide an organizing framework for evaluating the many players that provide merchant payment processing services geared for cross-border payments.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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