Tips For Ecommerce Merchants: Going Global With Translation & Localization



Attention all ecommerce merchants! With 2020 now at our doorstep, it’s time to consider new horizons for growth across your borders. We’re talking about going global! Thanks to fast and easy online ecommerce platforms, doing so couldn’t get any easier. But if you want to succeed in the global stage, you inevitably need to take more factors into account, specifically translation and localization.

With our article, get to know how important it is to work with a translation company for a successful global ecommerce campaign. Understand the various forms of translation and localization you’ll need to consider incorporating in your global ecommerce strategy. Fortune favors the bold!

Global Market Opportunities for Ecommerce Merchants

There’s no denying that e-commerce has taken over. And we are all obsessed with it. With the top ecommerce companies such as Amazon and Alibaba taking over our shopping experience, it’s hard to ignore and indulge in ecommerce in this day and age. But apart from these ecommerce giants, small businesses too are getting in on the action. However, most of them merely cater to their domestic markets. This means there are plenty of opportunities for further growth for those who want to go global.

A. Gain More Market Share in The World’s Largest Markets

China is the world’s largest ecommerce market that easily dwarfs the US’ own ecommerce market. But if you’re looking to expand in English-speaking markets, your obvious choices are the UK, Australia, and Canada. All 3 have well-established ecommerce markets so you won’t have too much trouble establishing a presence there.

Apart from English-speaking markets, there are more markets with strong ecommerce figures that are worth considering. In the Asia-Pacific region, authority markets are Japan and Korea. In mainland Europe, there’s Germany and France.

B. Unlock More Growth in Emerging Ecommerce Markets

Other than the world’s largest markets, you can definitely try your luck in the world’s emerging ecommerce markets. You can take a look at eMarketer’s latest findings on the world’s top growing ecommerce markets. One of the top growing ecommerce markets is Mexico and India.

India still has a lot of room to grow in terms of ecommerce penetration and sophistication. But considering that hundreds of millions of Indians still don’t own smartphones but are expected to within the next few years, the Indian market is ripe for the taking.

You can also find success with India’s regional neighbors, specifically in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. In Latin America, Brazil is the largest ecommerce market in that region but still has a lot of potential to grow if global ecommerce merchants decide to set up shop in the Brazilian market.

C. Earn Global Brand Recognition

If your products and online store is giving you the results you were looking for, then you’ve earned global brand recognition. As a foreign ecommerce merchant, you have the chance to offer products not available in their local marketplace. However, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket with that notion. You still have to consider the local purchasing power as not everyone is willing to pay premium prices for foreign products.

All of these points sound all and good so why don’t all ecommerce merchants go global? Well, a lot of people do and plenty more have plans to, but a global ecommerce strategy is more sophisticated than simply listing your products on global marketplaces.

Fundamentals in Global Ecommerce

You might be familiar with these already but for those who are just starting out, it really pays to know what are the fundamentals in global ecommerce. But we don’t need to tell you how to start an ecommerce business since you’re already at this stage of expanding your reach. Nevertheless, you’ll be introduced to a new way of doing business as you enter new markets that have their own way of conducting ecommerce.

But there are some things that don’t have to change such as your ecommerce platforms you’re using now be it Woocommerce, Magento, Shopify, and etc. They have features that’ll enable you to conduct global sales. But here are a few additions to your global ecommerce operations that you’ll have to start from scratch.

A. Target Market Research

As a newcomer, you’ll be diving into a new territory with little or no knowledge about it. So what do you do? Research of course! There’s a lot of resources you can use to check the prevailing product trends in your target market such as Google Trends. Part of your research process also includes looking at your local competition and seeing whether or not your products are up to par in terms of quality and price. 

B. International payment methods

If you’re used to credit card payments, then unfortunately the world prefers cash and alternative online payment systems. Cash-on-delivery payments are popular in India and Southeast Asia. Chinese online consumers prefer their homegrown online payment platforms such as WeChat Pay and Alipay. You should be able to provide multiple payment channels to accommodate the world’s diverse online payment habits. 

C. International Shipping

It’s a no brainer that  you can’t conduct global ecommerce without offering international shipping options. But instead of sticking to the usual shipping companies such as FedEx, DHL, etc., you need to take into account regional and local courier services that offer lower rates in exchange for longer shipping times. The discerning online shoppers in other markets are not too keen on spending top-dollar prices for expedited shopping and would rather wait for weeks or a month. 

D. Import Laws

You never know whether or not your product list is actually banned or heavily regulated in your target market. If not, also check whether or not your products are heavily taxed. With that in mind, do invest the time to thoroughly go over your target market’s import laws and customs. 

E. Local marketplace presence

As with local payment options, you should also keep in mind of your target market’s preferred online shopping platforms. Amazon may have a global presence but their dominance in the global stage is challenged by regional online shopping platforms.

F. Mobile App Support

Many global ecommerce markets, notably China, do most of their online shopping on their phones. That trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, especially when more and more people in foreign markets are owning smartphones. Also make sure that you have a presence in their preferred local mobile ecommerce apps. In China for instance, Taobao is the country’s dominant mobile ecommerce platform.

But as a new player in today’s global ecommerce landscape, you are expected to have mobile app support. With mobile app support, your website expected to implement a responsive mobile UX and UI design. Still not convinced? Then take a look at recent data on how many online shoppers around the world use their mobile phones. By 2017, 2 billion people worldwide have shopped online using their mobile devices.

However, just going by the book and sticking to the fundamentals isn’t going to guarantee any success. Think of it like building a car. A car cannot run nor can it be one without essential components such as engine, wheels, seats, safety features, etc. But just because all cars are built that way, not all of them will be successful in the market.

The more you dive into the details of what makes a successful global ecommerce strategy, the more you understand why there aren’t plenty of domestic ecommerce merchants taking the plunge. But to be successful means getting out of your comfort zone and taking necessary risks. With that in mind, there are two main issues every ecommerce merchant must learn to overcome if they decide to go global; communication and local relevance.

You Can’t Go Global Without Translation

Foreign audiences have no use for online stores that do not support their native language. This is a major reason that makes ecommerce merchants think twice before expanding their operations abroad. Without sugar coating it, there is a lot of material to translate—essentially everything that is on your digital platform that your target audience will see.

But even if you just translated to one language, Chinese translations for example, then you have the chance to reach out to hundreds of millions of new customers! Through English to Chinese translations, you have the chance to tap into the mainland Chinese market and also the global Chinese expat population! But naturally, you’ll need to be working with an excellent Chinese translator or a number of them that can provide you the following translation services.

A. Website Translation

If you own an ecommerce website, then naturally you’ll have to create another multilingual website that is translated in your target market’s native language. Everything that you think your audience might need to take a look at, you will need to translate it. On your homepage, give foreign audiences options to switch to their language of choice with its content translated accordingly. 

B. Marketing Translation

This applies to your product descriptions and all of your marketing content from website content, app content, and also your social media content if you’re conducting a social media marketing campaign. 

C. App Translation

If you plan to provide app support for your ecommerce store, then naturally you would have to ask for app translation services. As with app development and website development, app translation is a fundamentally different process from website translation. Considering that a huge percentage of online shoppers do their transactions with their phones, app translation is something you can’t ignore.

Ensure that your chosen app translator has the right specialization and if possible, also has insider knowledge in constructing the best app for your intended target market and audience.

Choosing Translation Services Over Google Translate

When facing the global audience, there’s just too much at stake to rely on Google Translate or any free online translator. Google Translate spews out raw translations powered by a neural machine translation. This system is sufficient for single words or short phrases.

But as for the long paragraph, best look elsewhere. In the competitive world of ecommerce, first impressions matter. In this case, quality and accurate translations matter. So what can you rely on for your translations? Translation services done by professional translators! Here’s a couple of reasons why you would want to hire a professional translator.

A. They Employ Professional Translators That Provide Accurate Translations

Translation services are commonly rendered by translation companies. A translation company has a global network of translators with native-speaker language skills. Some of them specialize in niche translations such as the ones we mentioned earlier i.e. website translation, marketing translation, mobile app translation, legal translation, and financial translation.

B. They Routinely Handle Big Projects

Another reason why you’d want to be coordinating with a translation company is that they have the resources to finish big projects in tight deadlines. This matters to ecommerce merchants since as you know, there is a lot of ecommerce materials to translate.

C. Professional Translators Can Handle Nuanced Source Texts

Translation apps, although are indeed brilliant, they cannot handle linguistically nuanced source texts. These range from humor, slang, idioms, to metaphors and other creative expressions.

Don’t Forget About Localization

This is where global ecommerce gets really tricky. Translation alone is comprehensive enough but localization takes it to another level. But first of all, what is localization? Localization is the process of tailoring content for it to resonate well with target audiences. This is a flexible applied concept that utilizes all global industries and not just the ecommerce industry.

With this in mind, you should aim to integrate localization as part of your translation process. Your chosen translator usually takes localization into account, but it doesn’t hurt to double check with your translator. Translation companies usually offer localization services as well.

They’re also known as localization companies considering that they’ve also built their reputation providing localization services. Translation companies or localization companies, which term you prefer, know first and foremost that translation and localization is the ideal foundation for global success.

Another bonus that goes with localization is that it alters your thought process. Localization naturally entails thorough market research. So you just can’t translate your content willy-nilly and expect it to work in whichever foreign market you choose. A localization expert can be a great addition to your team.

They’ll be able to provide you information that goes deeper than the surface level. They’ll be able to inundate you with vital information such as your target audiences’ market culture, preferred marketing channels, and even aesthetic preferences. With this in mind, localization has plenty of applications in your global ecommerce strategy.

Localization Applications For Ecommerce Merchants

With localization, you can provide an elevated shopping experience for your foreign audiences. In tandem with translation, you have a better chance of establishing trust and relevance between you and them as a foreign ecommerce merchant.

A. Website localization

First and foremost is website localization. If you have an online store, then you have to prepare it for the world stage. Translating a website is just part of the process if you’re aiming for maximum local relevance. Website localization takes these factors into account; UI and UX layout preferences, linguistic nuances, typography, currency conversions, time zones, etc. In fact, translation companies most often will naturally integrate website translation and localization one-stop solutions for ecommerce clients. Here’s a interesting piece on the eff.

B. Marketing localization

If you’re aiming to localize your digital platform, then should you naturally localize your content from your product descriptions to even your blog posts if your website features such. But if you’re starting out with marketplaces, then the formula of translation + localization naturally still applies here.

C. App localization

You can consider this as part of your mobile app responsive design process. Incorporate everything you’ve learned about your target audience’s aesthetic preferences and incorporate it into your multilingual mobile app design. App translation and localization is a process you’d ought to not look over since as mentioned earlier, a huge sum of the global online shopper performs their transactions on their phone.

The World Is Your Oyster: Final Words

There you have it! With translation and localization, you are all set to go global! But make sure that you’re not carrying everything on your shoulders. You’re not supposed to be embarking on this new journey alone as you will need to form the right team composed of professional translators and localization experts to help you along the way. In the end, going global as you already know is going to entail more costs, but these are investments considering what you will gain in the end if you strive to do everything properly from the get-go.

As to when you should go global is up for you to decide in the end. The global ecommerce industry, as vibrant it may seem already, there’s still a lot more room for growth, particularly in emerging markets. Now that you’re armed with the know-how on how to go global, seize the chance when the time is right for you.

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