eCommerce Localization Best Practices

Localization involves transforming your website to conform to a foreign country’s unique language and cultural norms, and a strong eCommerce localization strategy is critical for businesses that want to generate sales in different countries.

If you’re already making lots of sales to your domestic target market, you might think that you can simply translate your eCommerce site into different languages and dramatically grow your global market overnight. Unfortunately, taking the localization process lightly with rudimentary measures like machine translation will make it that much more difficult to break into international markets.

While a full website localization is more costly and time-consuming than a simple translation, it’s a good investment that will more than pay off in terms of overseas sales. You’re far more likely to build trust among local customers when you make the effort to align the user experience with their expectations.

4 Reasons Why You Need eCommerce Localization:

1. Localization Opens Doors to New Markets

Market research tells us that internet users are more likely to browse eCommerce websites in their local language than in English. Localizing for a specific language and culture will make your online business more approachable to consumers. With more online shopping taking place on smartphones every year, you also need a localized mobile website to compete with brands that are already established in a particular market.

  • Example: In India, studies show that the vast majority of people consume online content in their native language rather than in English. In addition, many Indians who do not own a computer do have a mobile phone. India is the third-largest consumer market globally, so localizing your site for the main Indian languages is essential if you want to do well there.

2. You Need to Connect With Your Target Customers

Expanding into new markets means navigating cultural differences that you may not have experience with. Content that’s successful with your target audience in one locale may not receive the same reaction in international marketing campaigns. In fact, even people in different regions within the same nation might perceive the same content very differently. 

  • Example: People in western countries tend to express themselves more openly compared to people in many other regions. Potentially explicit or offensive content might seem normal in the west, but it may be considered inappropriate by people in certain other countries—especially those in the Middle East. The Middle East is one of the largest markets in the world, so it would be wise to localize your site to conform to its more conservative sensibilities. This is just one example showing how localization can involve content management as well as basic translation.

3. Customers Expect a Personalized Experience

Even if a prospective customer is interested in your products, they’re unlikely to stick around if they don’t understand the language of your website. eCommerce localization services will enable you to engage with the prospect and provide more tailored customer support. Policies for things like payment options, shipping, returns, and exchanges should be easy to follow in order to minimize friction for local buyers.

4. You Can Tap Into Local Holiday Revenue Streams

If you’re an eCommerce vendor, you already know how valuable local holidays and festivals can be. Holiday shopping isn’t limited to just one part of the world, but you shouldn’t assume that your international customers are interested in American holidays.

Running unique promotions for different holidays is one of the best ways to maximize global eCommerce sales. Here are just a few of the most important holidays for eCommerce customers around the world:

  • China – China celebrates Singles Day every year on November 11th. The Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba makes the most of Singles Day shopping sprees by bringing in more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US combined. 
  • IndiaDiwali, a festival of lights traditionally held in November, is one of the busiest shopping periods in the country. 
  • The Middle East and Africa – Several global brands offer special deals during the important time of Ramadan. Ramadan is based on moon phases rather than specific dates in the western calendar, so you’ll need to confirm the start and end dates every year. 
  • Australia – Down under, the holiday season centers around a major November shopping event called Click Frenzy. Like Cyber Monday in the United States, Click Frenzy is an online mega-sale composed of deep discounts and other special offers from various retailers. 
  • Black Friday – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are generally associated with the American market, but they have also been gaining traction around the world. Countries around the globe such as Spain, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Ireland, the UK, Italy, Germany, Chile, and Portugal now have their own versions of Black Friday, with sales often continuing through the weekend until Cyber Monday.

To maximize global sales, you’ll need to mark up your international holiday calendar and provide localized shopping experiences for customers in different regions. Soon enough, your international holiday deals will give you the ROI you’re looking for. 

3 Key eCommerce Features to Localize

ECommerce has seen extraordinary growth in recent years, including in emerging markets around the globe. In India, for instance, eCommerce has been snatching the market away from its brick and mortar rivals. Flipkart, a leading eCommerce retailer in India, was founded in 2007 and has seen tremendous growth since then.

If you’re an eCommerce retailer, this is the perfect time to make inroads into foreign markets. These are some of the most important elements to focus on during the optimization process

Language

Naturally, language is an essential aspect of any eCommerce localization. First, you’ll need to know which language to use in a particular local market. Keep in mind that many different languages may be spoken in different areas of one country.

For instance, research tells us that the Indian population reads most content in Hindi. In fact, Hindi-language queries on popular search engines have more than doubled in the past few years.

Moreover, similar trends have been identified for the country’s other regional languages. Customers are more likely to buy from you when they can find content in their native language. 

SEO Metadata

SEO is just as relevant to eCommerce localization as it is to domestic marketing campaigns. Merely translating search terms isn’t enough—you’ll need to perform keyword and competitor research for every unique region and target language.

Even in cases where English is the local language, you shouldn’t assume that the same keywords will lead to the same results. Depending on local usage, a search term could be phrased completely differently in two different regions that share a common language.

Customer Experience

Along with language barriers, you should also consider cultural differences that could have an impact on the customer experience. Formalities and pleasantries can vary widely from one country to another, and customers in different cultures expect different types of interactions when engaging with their favorite brands.

American consumers are generally accustomed to an informal style, so American customer service tends to be more casual. However, that approach may be seen differently in more formal countries like Germany and Japan.

When you’re trying to appeal to customers with a different background and culture, it’s your responsibility to do your research and find culturally appropriate ways to interact with consumers. Aside from basics like translating product descriptions, you’ll need to consider the following elements of your eCommerce site: 

  • Payments and Currency – eCommerce businesses often overlook payments and currencies when localizing for new markets. Online shoppers want to see prices that they understand – they don’t want to deal with currency conversion or changing exchange rates. Your prices should be listed in the local currency and reflect the region’s taxes and exchange rates. Remember that international consumers may also prefer different payment methods compared to your American customers. 
  • FAQs and Policy Pages – An accurately translated FAQ page will help you answer common questions and alleviate any concerns among prospective buyers. While some answers will be the same for all consumers, you might want to add some extra details to your international FAQ pages. For example, overseas customers will have questions related to things like delivery times, shipping costs, and customs fees. It’s critical to offer clear answers in the local language in order to give them more confidence in their order. Any ambiguity in your policies or product information will only lead to more returns and fewer returning customers.
  • Order and Contact Forms – Contact and order forms need to be translated accurately so that users know how to get in touch. Addresses and dates are particularly common errors among American brands – remember that most international buyers will expect dates in the DD/MM/YYYY format instead of the American MM/DD/YYYY style. 
  • Checkout Page – The checkout page is where you close the sale, but it can also be where you lose the lead. Far too many businesses redirect checkout pages away from local sites over to their main website. This is a huge mistake for localization – customers don’t want to be directed to an unfamiliar site without warning at the last minute before their purchase. With that in mind, you should make sure that customers can complete the entire checkout process in their local language and without leaving your localized site. 
  • Customer Service – Customers expect to be able to ask questions and understand your answers in their own language. Offering localized support will help optimize customer trust and increase the chances that they shop with you again. You can add even more personalization by implementing multiple service options such as email, live chat, social media messaging, and live phone conversations. 

Use Localize for Your eCommerce Localization

Build a stronger presence in international markets by crafting a fully localized customer experience in your audience’s native language. While a simple translation might be enough to make your website comprehensible, it won’t give international consumers a reason to switch from the local brands they’re already familiar with.

Whether you’re getting started with multilingual eCommerce or just looking for ways to improve your approach to new markets, Localize’s powerful and scalable translation management platform will help you reach your localization goals. Contact us to learn more about the platform and sign up for a free trial.

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