It was an essential question in the past, and it's just as important today. Successful sellers know their customers, their needs, their wants, and how to address them.

Many years ago, when Mrs. Ashworth pushed her cart full of greens and groceries down the muddy road to the weekly market in the town square, she always knew who she’d see there.

As soon as she set up her small stand, Mr. Hudson’s boy would rush over and ask for eggs, vegetables and fruits. Then there was the pharmacist who was quite picky with her herbs, several farmers who always haggled for the best deals and so on…

Mrs. Ashworth knew all of them. She knew their needs (sometimes even better than they did), and how to treat each of them individually. She spoke their language.

Nowadays, the “town market” is much larger (especially when it comes to e-commerce) but the general situation is still the same. Successful sellers know their customers, their needs, their wants, and how to address them.

When dealing internationally, or better interculturally, sellers face an even bigger challenge: who are my new customers? Mostly, they speak a language that is foreign to the seller. “No problem”, one might think, “There’s always online translation! And wasn’t my cousin in Germany a few years ago?”

But is that really all there is to it?

No, not necessarily – language is just the face of something much deeper, something that influences people in all their thoughts, actions and purchases: culture!

Imagine selling special gifts for Father’s Day in June in Italy. Unfortunately, Italian fathers get their presents from their kids on March 19th. You’ll end up empty-handed.

So Mrs. Ashworth knew her customers – their routines, habits, preferences, and what influenced their shopping. How well do you know yours? Do you know what means the most to them? What and when do they celebrate?

Even such basic factors like weather form an important part of the customers’ backgrounds and lives. For example, one of our employees bought a bicycle saddle which was produced in Portugal. It turned out that the gel in the seat froze to ice in German winter conditions. Needless to say, this was an uncomfortable surprise.

If you are a retailer for bicycle seats or of kid’s shoes, you should pay attention to such details in order to avoid events like these. So inform yourself about every aspect of your customers’ lives you can think of. Or, if you don’t have the time, let other people do it for you, people who know what they’re talking about – native speakers.

ICE can help you get to know your new customers and expand successfully through our A to Z e-commerce services.