U.S. customer perceptions of foreign based online services/applications


Were are working on an online service that will sell both digital and physical goods in the U.S. Orders for physical goods will be fulfilled by U.S. based suppliers.

I am American but based in Spain and my partners are Europeans. We are trying to determine where we should set up our business, either in Spain or in the U.S.

The overriding concern seem to be one of customer perceptions. When making an online purchase, do Americans care/notice if an online company is not located in the U.S.?

Should this even be a concern for us as we are in start-up mode and are trying not to waste time?

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asked Apr 14 '11 at 03:57
Miguel Buckenmeyer
482 points
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2 Answers


Just make sure that you always use Americans or at least native-level English speakers to write copy, handle customer service, write your blog and or tweets, etc. A lot of times European companies use perfectly accurate English that is, nonetheless, not native-sounding, and this hurts the way they are perceived by Americans. I remember having a German scanner once that displayed the following message:

The Scanner begins to warm up.

It's not grammatically incorrect, although "Scanner" should not have been capitalized in English, but it's such an odd way to say it that we couldn't stop giggling every time we saw it, and to this day, I still find myself exclaiming "The Scanner begins to warm up" on being presented with a haughty German appliance.
answered Apr 14 '11 at 11:37
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thanks for the answer. That's pretty funny. Yeah, marketing copy won't be a problem since I am on top of that. Great advice. – Miguel Buckenmeyer 13 years ago


I don't see that people would care, but why not just form a US subsidiary (such as a Delaware LLC) and list a US address on the website? Who would know the difference?

answered Apr 14 '11 at 11:27
1,747 points
  • Thanks for the answer. This is one thing that we are considering but my accountant keeps reminding me that as yet I have no revenues and should be in guerrilla mode. – Miguel Buckenmeyer 13 years ago

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