5 E-commerce translation mistakes when stepping on Asian markets

It has never been easier to sell online than it is today. There are so many tools (and affordable ones, too) to help you start your e-commerce store. With e-commerce, the potential for growth and new revenue streams is phenomenal, however, there are some cautions that need to be exercised when translating a website. This is especially the case with website translation for Asia. Why? Not only because the market is so fragmented, but because of all the linguistic challenges that arise with such a wide array of languages and sub-language groups. If you’re thinking that website translation for the Asian market is likely to be a piece of cake, you’ll need to think again. Here are some of the five most common e-commerce website translation hurdles that you will need to overcome first.

1. Fonts and direct translations

One of the first challenges related to e-commerce translations for Asia is plugging the target language into a translation tool and expecting to see good results. The opposite is more likely. You’re likely to alienate your customers with direct translations as these will be meaningless to them. For example, if you want to translate a website to Chinese, you’ll need to think about all the different variations of the language that exist and choose the one that will fit your business best. Ideally, you’ll need to translate your site into the various sub-language groups and dialects that exist in the country. Although it’s the world’s most populous nation, which is digitally tech-savvy and has connections to the internet through a vast proliferation of smartphones, literal translations will be your downfall. The same is true if you translate a website to Japanese. Here though, you’ll need to take into account that Japanese characters are written vertically and are mainly read from top to bottom instead of left to right, so this is another challenge with fonts that you’ll want to consider.

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2. SEO

Search engine optimization or SEO as it’s commonly referred to is another area that can quickly lose you, potential customers. Why? The answer lies in the fact that keywords in the native language are often directly translated into the target language but this doesn’t indicate anything behind the user’s real intent when doing a search. It’s also critical to translate as much of your content as possible in the target language because, for example, Chinese users are extremely discerning when it comes to purchasing products. This means that blog posts, social media copy, using the right social media platform in the first place, and so much more is required to translate an English to a Chinese website.

3. Currency, units and images & videos

Another challenge that comes with e-commerce translation – whether you want to translate a website to Hindi, translate a website to Indonesian, or any other language – is making the entire customer journey a seamless process. This means that you’ll need to translate and localize all elements of your website up to and including your checkout page. You should also consider the need to present the items you’re selling in the local currency, make the units visible and easy to identify, and finally, you’ll need to localize all images and videos. The last part is crucial as that’s where your selling point ultimately lies. If you use images with a car that’s driving on the opposite side of the road as that of China, for example, your customers are likely to think you’ve not made any efforts in localizing the content specifically for them and they’re likely to shun you.

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4. Customer service

ecommerce translationCustomer service is another crucial requirement when you seek e-commerce translation services. In China, customers are used to haggling at marketplaces and they expect to do the same online. Therefore, your customer support staff needs to be adequately trained not only for local particularities but also for local customs and ways of life. In addition, your staff needs to be really knowledgeable about the products you’re selling – whether it be pricing, colors, quantities, materials, and fabrics, etc. – as clients want to know they are getting the best. Speaking of getting the best, in China, buying an item of clothing, an accessory, or even a piece of technology is all made to give one “face” when relating to others. So, by addressing this pain point, you’ll go a long way in your marketing efforts.

5. Overall marketing efforts

In most of this article, we’ve spoken a lot about translating from English or another language into an Asian language. But what about the opposite? For example, what if you need to translate Chinese to an English website, translate a website in Japanese to English, translate a Korean website to English, or even get a website translation in Hindi? The same principles as mentioned above apply. With one further point to be made. And that is that all your marketing efforts need to be geared towards being localized instead of just having your website translated. For this, you will need to employ the services of not only translators, but native speakers who are familiar with the language, cultural intricacies, delicate issues that are best avoided, ways of coming across too aggressively (as this is frowned upon in some cultures) and other sensitivities that only a native speaker would be able to pick up on and nuances that a computer program would certainly not be able to achieve.

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Although you might be ready to take the online marketplace by storm with your catchy and innovative products, you’re only halfway there if you haven’t translated every piece of marketing material you have and localized it effectively for the given target market or markets. This is why if you want to translate a website from English to Chinese you’ll need to go the extra mile to ensure your keyword research is accurate and applicable. Additionally, all pieces of content must be localized for your customers in order they to have a satisfying customer experience and that you don’t leave them hanging at the last step in the checkout process. Think of it this way: you are not likely to browse or even purchase from a website that has foreign elements in it, so why would your Asian customers? With this in mind, we hope we’ve helped you avoid some of the most common e-commerce translating mistakes that are made out there.