The latest report from the European Commission has highlighted the need for consumers to buy more online products and services abroad, venturing beyond home markets

With up to 56 percent of the EU community now making purchases using the web, the Commission believes that confidence must be heightened to cross borders and embrace e-tailing at an international level.

The lack of confidence in cross border e-commerce is evident by the fact that only 16 percent of consumers have made international purchases over the web, a very small rise from 15 percent the previous year. With many well known retailers now beginning to embrace e-commerce, the potential of the online market to deliver a wide variety of product choice at lower prices is significant.

Unfortunately, many sites are still not equipped to handle this kind of global functionality. If companies are going to be able to deliver their goods and services to broader audiences and take advantage of larger market opportunities, it is crucial that companies ramp up their efforts to traverse borders and cultures. At present, in many cases users are either blocked when attempting to access foreign portals or are redirected to a local homepage of their own nation.

John Stroshal, VP of Europe at Digital River – a provider of global e-commerce solutions, comments on what companies can to do to extend online shopping borders beyond home markets and encourage consumers to take better advantage of the web:

“Businesses can do a lot more to generate e-commerce activity on the web, encouraging users to move out of their comfort zone and shop beyond the borders of their home town. Potential customers are often concerned about whether cross border purchases will actually be successful and companies are unsure about how to provide the best cross e-commerce experience. They often settle for not having a global online presence, missing out on a valuable opportunity to increase productivity and grow.”

“What businesses need is an uncomplicated web site that is optimised to cater to cosmopolitan customers. Users the world over have come to expect a functional web experience that saves them valuable time and effort, so it is vital that companies look at potential service barriers like language, currency, tax and shipping regulations. By providing a solution to these common cultural stumbling blocks, companies will be able to create the kind of online experience that is built to encourage diverse users to shop abroad.”