If you want to improve conversion for international customers, here's a tip - don't show them the same checkout forms as your domestic market. I wrote about this recently using an example from Victoria's Secret, which offers a North American and an International form.
But does Vicky's Secret go far enough? Forms that take into account the cultural differences, address formats, payment preferences and legal regulations for individual countries are easier for international customers to understand and complete.
While I don't believe in copying other sites' formats outright, referring to a site that's obviously done its homework on international ecommerce can give you an idea of what international checkout forms should look like. PayPal is a great example.
India is also very similar to Western countries' forms, but has a PIN code field in lieu of a ZIP/postal code. It also carries a (+91) prefix for the telephone number.
Japan's form is very similar, but notice it asks for last name first, instead of first name, matching cultural expectations. It also offers an additional credit card option (JCB).
Once you hit China, things start getting interesting. Credit cards are not as popular in China, so PayPal adjusts its sails and offers the UnionPay bank card option by default. Like Japan, last name is asked first, but is labeled Surname, and first name labeled Given Name.
PayPal presents its German form in German, where you'll find options for a bank transfer or credit card. If you choose bank transfer, you need to enter your account number and birth date for security.
You'll recall from our post on global payments that Brazil commonly allows for payment in installments. In this case, the only option is a one-time payment, which is indicated. Also, field labels are slightly different - Brazil also uses Neighbourhood and ZIP code, which appears to be a mistake. Only the US and Philippines use ZIP, Brazil uses Código de Endereçamento Postal (CEP).
Whether you want to serve the world through one site or many sites, localizing the checkout form will be more user friendly than forcing everyone into the square hole of a universal form. (If you use one site, you can allow customer to select country first to load the appropriate form, as Victoria's Secret and PayPal do). When designing forms, make sure you understand the following:
- Cultural differences (e.g. surname, given name)
- Address differences (e.g. city/state/postal code/telephone), apply them to field labels accordingly
- Payment preferences of each market
- Legal implications of privacy or submission of information