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Why eCommerce Localization Matters

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Why eCommerce Localization Matters

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By bringing consumers and vendors closer than ever, eCommerce is an intrinsic part of global business. According to Statista, online commerce generated more than US$ 4.2 trillion in revenue, while 2 billion people purchased goods and services on the web in 2020 alone.

In this context, eCommerce localization is vital for the well-being of any online retail platform. Although more than one-third of the world’s population speaks English, a survey published by Shopify shows that 75% of online shoppers are more likely to complete a purchase if the site is available in their own language. Also, 59% of international consumers rarely purchase anything from an English-only platform. Without localization, eCommerce, therefore, risks losing an essential part of its global market share. If you own an eCommerce platform, here are a few do’s and don’ts of eCommerce localization you might need to consider when venturing into new markets.

Learn from others’ localization failures

Learning from other big brands’ localization failures is perhaps the easiest. When Coca-Cola attempted to enter the Chinese market, it put its left foot forward. Translated into Chinese, the famous brand name “Coca-Cola” came out as “Bite the Wax Tadpole” (in Mandarin: “Ke-Kou-Ke-La”). Luckily, they soon realised the mistake and changed it to “ko-kou-ko-le”, which means “happiness in the mouth”. Not ideal, but sellable compared to a “wax tadpole”.

Funny as it may be, it cannot beat Electrolux’s epic localization fail in the US – “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”. The famous home appliance vendor successfully campaigned in the UK with the same slogan, but in the US… oops! That’s because that tiny, little word had already a negative connotation in American English but not in British English. So, you get the idea. Eventually, it all boils down to content localization and proper market research. But where to start?

Find yourself in eCommerce localization

eCommerce localization goes way deeper than translating product names into the target market’s language. To connect to your international shoppers at a deeper level, you need to understand cultural differences that will help you decipher consumer behaviour and how supply and demand work differently across different markets.

Puma is an excellent example of online retail content localization. When localizing its website for different audiences worldwide, the German shoemaker adopted a user-centric approach to localization by serving consumers of each of its target countries only content relevant to them.

You can do the same by clearly segmenting your audience and featuring on your localized e-Shopping platform only products or services that appeal to your targeted local clientele. This is the first stage of eCommerce content localization!

eCommerce content localization 1 o 1

Now comes the tricky part – storytelling. At Pangea Global, we believe that a story told in the right way is the best story. Here are a few eCommerce content localization tips any e-shopping platform owner should know:

Localized SEO. Global audiences naturally search for content available in their language. Most importantly, search engines rank content that matches the search language higher than content in foreign languages. Saying that, before making any attempt to go local, make sure your website is translated in the language spoken by your target market/audience. Also, localized keywords should observe local buying behaviours in mind. Verbatim translation doesn’t help.
 
Transcreation. Translating any branded material word-for-word doesn’t work. Always think of your audience. If your brand identity allows you to be more playful and fun, then go for it. Use idioms and catchy phrases that are specific to and make sense in the language spoken by your target market to avoid sounding hilarious. Working closely with a translation agency like Pangea Global always helps you avoid this pitfall and conquer new markets with flying colours. Our linguists are all native speakers of the languages they translate into and eCommerce experts with a deep understanding of local buying habits. Additionally, we also use the latest-generation translation tools that give us the ability and agility to turn your content around fast without compromising on quality or cultural identity.
 
Unicode. Make sure your eCommerce site supports Unicode – the standard providing a unique code for each character, irrespective of the type of platform, device, or language. Unicode will allow your content to be displayed correctly in any language, regardless of the alphabet used (i.e., Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, etc.)
 
Be generous with your call-to-action space. Translating your calls to action is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks in eCommerce localization. For example, “Buy now” is the most commonly used call to action in eCommerce. When translated into French, for example, “Acheter maintenant”, its length almost doubles. The same applies to English to Spanish CTA translation. The frequently used “Buy now, pay later” becomes “Compra ahora y paga después” in Spanish. Therefore, it’s always best to allocate more space for your calls to action in other languages than English.
 
Language script. Not all languages use left-to-right script. Arabic and Hebrew are read from right to left. Paying attention to any particular script and text orientation on your web page when localizing your eCommerce content to these languages is vital.
 
Employing over 540 linguists across the world, Pangea Global can help you make your mark across these markets as well.
 
Colour awareness. When localizing your platform, it is worth paying attention to colours. Not all countries across the globe perceive colours the same way we do. For example, green is a forbidden colour in Indonesia, just like red is considered offensive in some African countries. If you would like to find out more about colours and how they are perceived by different peoples worldwide, we invite you to read one of our previous blogs, all about colours and their cross-cultural symbolism.
 
Stay tuned for more localization do’s, don’ts and other stories. If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your network, we won’t mind.


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