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You’ll find that the basics will not differ from the U.S. These include the following: 1. Support the brand; 2. Provide a stable site; 3. Provide an easy, simple, and clean shopping process; and 4. Deliver what you’ve promised!

To help the cross-border expansion run more smoothly, it is vital that the internal team has a clear understanding of the brand and the strategy. The ability to clearly communicate your brand message and determine your target audience will help you to identify your Canadian competition. Clear brand guidelines and segmentation can also help you to choose and educate partners and vendors that may not be as familiar with your brand.

Site stability and regulatory compliance are critical regardless of geography. Atten- tion should be paid to the added value that third-party providers having Canadian experience can bring to your project. In expanding across borders, working with third-party providers that have local representation or experience in Canada is an advantage. Operations and fulfillment specifics are discussed in more detail within Chapter 6.

An easy, simple, and clean Canadian shopping experience will help provide a better customer experience. While none of these suggestions are mandatory, creating a customer experience that allows the Canadian customer to shop your brand know- ing that you have taken their unique geographic and cultural needs into considera- tion will increase your conversion rate and frequency of purchase. The degree to which you customize the Canadian experience and the order in which you choose to implement these customer-experience modifications will greatly depend on your brand guidelines, overall market potential, and enterprise investment commitment.

Marketing Basics

The provision of a Canadian-friendly shopping cart is paramount to the success of the site. Key elements of the shopping cart include the following:

  • Acceptance of credit cards drawn on Canadian banks;

  • For the Canadian customer to make an educated purchasing decision, they must

understand the total cost of the product in Canadian funds;

  • The cost of duties, customs, and value-added tax; and

  • Shipping costs including the final mile to their door at fair and reasonable costs.

Almost as important is customer service. Allowing for easy returns in the post-purchase process is another revenue accelerator. Retailers with a store presence in Canada should give serious consideration and organizational priority to cross-channel capabili- ties. Specifically, this includes providing the facility for the online customer the ability to return items in-store.

When shipping across the border, retailers should provide the highest level of service possible based on their business model. At a minimum, this means an address in Canada for the customer to ship their returns to, as opposed to having to mail returns to a U.S. warehouse.

Visa e-commerce cross-border handbook for U.S. retailers

Copyright 2010 Visa. All rights reserved.

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