E-commerce from the LSP’s perspective

Ever since the first item was sold online a couple of decades ago, online shopping has become so popular that global online retail sales have more than tripled since 2014 and continue to grow. Putting this in perspective, Statista estimates that global retail e-commerce sales will reach over US$6.5 trillion, which is nearly double the US$3.5 trillion in 2019. This has created a new space for merchants and traders to sell their wares online and reach customers across borders. It has also resulted in the need for effective and localized translation services as Language Service Providers (LSPs) face increasing demand to tailor-make content to an increasingly global clientele. With this being said, it’s interesting to note that the Common Sense Advisory’s “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” research series has established that 40% of people won’t opt for making a purchase unless the information presented on the website is in their language. This figure rises to 65% where content is concerned. This desire for a more localized approach is evident in the fact that 73% of buyers are influenced in their purchase decisions. So, what are some of the do’s and don’ts related to a translation company which is dealing with the translation of a multilingual website? We take a closer look at this below.

Some mistakes to avoid when localizing

Asia, and China in particular, are the places where most global e-commerce is taking place. This creates the need to effectively translate and localize in Asian languages. However, as intuitive as it might seem, many companies still fail to do this, committing the following faux pas in their offering to their customers:

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Showing only the price in the local language

It’s not uncommon to see a shopping website that only translates the currency of the item in the local language and nothing else. No product descriptions, item names, website banners and above the fold information are translated or localized. This can lead to not only abandoned cart rates, but also to divert customers away from your site.

Minimal site translation

Whether a press release, a blog post, a case study or some other piece of content on your website, you need to ensure that you do not limit your translations across your site. This is a serious mistake that can dissuade your customers from purchasing from you.

Using auto-translate

Using auto-translate is another big mistake because auto-translate is often inaccurate and clumsy. Instead of drawing customers to you, you’re more likely to lead them to your competitors as they feel frustrated in the purchasing process as they either do not understand what the site actually says, or they feel offended that you did not put in the effort to localize the content to suit their needs.

Translating keywords directly

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords are a fundamental part of the search process. However, keywords that might work in one language may not be effective in another Asian language as there is a different user intent that a directly translated keyword is incapable of capturing. This is why working with local teams can help you improve your website’s rankings and improve search volumes.

Failure to localize

The overall failure to localize your content to your audience’s needs is only likely to push them away from you and into the arms of your competitors. Localization means looking at every piece of content and even images and ensuring that they are created and recreated in such a way that they meet local demand, that they accurately convey the main idea in the target language and that they do not offend your customers.

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Good practices for an LSP

e-commerceWith all this being said, there are some good practices for LSPs for localizing and effectively translating content into Asian languages. Here are some of them:

Complete site-wide translation

When transitioning to an Asian market, you need to ensure that your entire website is fully localized for your audience. This refers to prices and currencies, images, colors, content and copy and absolutely every other element that appears on your site.

Localized product offerings

What works in a western country might not work in Asia, and you need to consider doing market research to see if your product will be suitable for the market. Once you’ve determined this, make sure you provide localized product offerings. One mistake made by some website owners is to use images of caucasian models in Japan. The likelihood for the customer to recognize themselves in this image is slim to none and you’re only likely to alienate them rather than draw them in.

Localized product descriptions

Localized product descriptions are another crucial element of ensuring you localize your content for the intended audience. Product descriptions such as size, weight, height, colours etc. are important in the customer’s purchasing and decision-making process, and if not localized, you’re going to lose out on some customers.

Localized customer service

Also ensure that if your customers need any help from your site, that you offer it to them in their language. Having a chat bot, offering Frequently Asked Questions or even having a help line in the target language is likely to win you more customers as they’ll feel confident that your website, and ultimately your business, is legitimate and trustworthy.

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Web and mobile localization

Finally, you need to make sure that you localize not only for your website but for your mobile offering, too. Mobile localization refers to the localization and effective translation of your content for a mobile device and/or app. With most of us on our phones, shopping via a mobile phone is becoming the norm. Don’t assume that your customers will only reach you via desktop. Consider applying localization strategies for mobile as well.

Final thoughts

With e-commerce set to continue on its growth trajectory, it’s critical for businesses that are entering this space or expanding their offering to different countries and cultures to localize their content. Doing otherwise risks alienating your customers, as you might offend them, lose them at the checkout, or worse, not even draw them in to look at your online store by not localizing effectively. Localization entails not only the language element but cultural factors too. Things such as images and colors also play a critical role in the localization process and you need to factor this in when you’re localizing your content. Make sure that all the elements of your e-commerce store have been localized and effectively translated and you’ll have more happy customers.