Posted: Mon 30th Mar 2015
PayPal allows any business or individual with an email address to securely and conveniently send and receive payments online. With 162 million users around the globe, it is one of the world's leading payment networks and a good partner for any business looking to build a new and international customer base.
PayPal's UK Managing Director Cameron McLean speaks to Antony Comyns, Head of e-Commerce at shirt-maker Hawes & Curtis, to find out how his company went from thriving UK retailer to an established international business selling products in more than 50 countries.
CM: When did Hawes & Curtis decide the time was right to expand internationally?
AC: We launched our online store in 2007 and the initial aim was to see if we could take a million pounds online. We achieved that in the first year and have been increasing the range and growing the business since then.
CM: That makes it sound so easy! What were the first things you had to do?
AC: We definitely focused on the basics first. For a start, we had to work out which markets offered us the biggest sales opportunities. Then we had to ensure that goods could be shipped safely and quickly there. That meant understanding different customers' online shopping requirements and preferences, and working out how best to use local postal systems, courier services and address formats.
CM: With all that in place, were you confident customers would be comfortable using an English language website?
AC: We'd already seen that overseas customers were readily using our UK site so that helped. But we also soon noticed that foreign customers had different levels of comfort with it. For example, in Russia we discovered that bloggers had translated all the important sections of our website to help people there use it. It was great, so to thank them, we gave the bloggers some free shirts and accessories!
CM: So it sounds like from a local perspective, the key thing was ensuring the service offered to customers was just as good as the in-store experience in the UK - from the products on sale through to the actual purchasing process. Which means of course I have to ask, how has working with PayPal helped?
AC: When selling internationally, you need to have some points on your website that build customers' confidence. One of those is association with a trusted brand and as PayPal is one of the biggest payments brands, people know it and accept it as safe and secure. Hawes & Curtis may mean very little to a man sitting in the middle of America but he will know PayPal. That gives him the security he needs to buy from us.
CM: So a lot of it comes down to helping build a good reputation for your business?
AC: Yes, but it's about scale and ease of use too. Today, 25 per cent of Hawes & Curtis' business is conducted online and 45 per cent of that is international. PayPal has amazing reach and having one payment service provider that covers a lot of countries and is easy to integrate across all devices is key for our expansion. It means we can get to market very quickly. Plus, customers who use it already know the 'rules' and can pay in their own currency. That definitely increases conversion rates at check-out - which, ultimately, is what any retail business is all about.
CM: What next for the business?
AC: More of the same hopefully. We are constantly monitoring opportunities in all countries. In the short-term, that means a dedicated site in America. After that, we'll see"¦
PayPal is a partner in the Enterprise Nation Go Global campaign that hosts events, webinars, blog posts and activity for small businesses looking to trade overseas.
Join our free webinar on April 9th to hear from PayPal's Director of Global Cross Border Trade Initiatives, Melissa O'Malley, to learn more about international selling opportunities and best practices for UK merchants who want to expand their businesses cross-border - register here.
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