Language is not a barrier but a chance – most frequent mistakes in e-commerce localization and how to avoid them.

There are 3.5 billion  Internet users worldwide. If your website communicates only in English, you have a chance to reach 25% of them. Not bad, isn’t it? The thing is there are thousands of other e-entrepreneurs just like you, which means you’ll need to make an extra effort to have a share in a market that is now worth $2.3 trillion. You’ll need services that go beyond regular translation. E-commerce localization may be an answet to all your questions.

The share of international sales in the e-commerce industry is expected to grow. This shouldn’t be surprising given that physical borders between countries are getting blurrier and blurrier every day. In the world dominated by the English language, it’s easy to forget that not everybody is fond of using it in everyday life. Statistics say that 75% of Europeans prefer to shop on websites that are run in their native language. This means that international expansion for an e-commerce company is much more feasible with thorough website and app localization.

As we’re working in the language industry, we can see that more and more corporate customers are aware of the power of the right translation. Yet, we can still observe a few things that make international and intercultural communication of our customers harder. This is why we present in this article the most frequent mistakes and we’ll tell you how to avoid them in the future.

1. Language is not limited to words only, but words themselves have huge impact when it comes to e-commerce localization.

One of the common mistakes is not taking language into consideration at early stages of designing the website. Words‘ length differs from one language to another. It is enough to compare English and German to see how distinct these languages are when it comes to the space you need for the text. Call to action buttons, order forms and regular text blocks have to be adapted to the new language. What is more, if you want to enter markets where a different alphabet is used, you’d need to make significant changes to the whole website/app layout. Languages with a right-to-left or vertical scripture demand more effort to be put in the web design. In a perfect world, you should think about international expansion already when setting up your website. But don’t worry – the right language service provider should be able to help.

2. Talking to your IT guy first may be advisable as well.

Not using Unicode when setting up your e-commerce website or mobile app will make everything harder. Translating content to another language means using different symbols and letters. And those may not be displayed correctly if Unicode is not applied.

According to recent research, 57% of Internet users won’t go back to a website if they have had a bad experience with it. Don’t let that mistake affect your conversion rate and think about the right programming strategy for your online shop.

3. The language itself may be a drawback.

Targeting your messages based on customers’ first language is not the best option. It is much better to differentiate your communication strategy based on your customers’ location. Special caution should be taken when it comes to global languages like English or Spanish. When your messages in Spanish are all the same, regardless of customer’s geographical location, you’re doomed to fail. European Spanish is much different from the Argentinian or Mexican variant. What is more, as we have already said, language is not limited to words only. People from different regions perceive your message in different ways, so it should be culture-sensitive. This is possible if you don’t limit your targeting to language only but rather adjust it to geographical area too.

4. Testing, testing, testing

Testing is not just a final touch up for an e-commerce localization project. It’s a way to ensure that your conversion rate will go up instead of losing customers over a few missed details. And it’s not just for perfectionists – even if your team spends hours and hours working on the website or app, there is still a chance they’ll miss something. Even a single not translated “call to action” button or a wrong currency unit may ruin the shopping experience for your customer. An external team of testers will look at your e-commerce project with fresh eyes and go thoroughly through every tab to make sure the shopping path is easy and user friendly in every language.

5. Multilingual employees are precious, but don’t assign them translation tasks unless they’re professionals.

Using your internal team to translate content of the website may cost you. Double.

First, professional translators are specialists when it comes to language AND culture. They smoothly navigate through cultural nuances, while your English or Spanish speaking office manager or sales assistant may oversee potentially offensive phrases. That will cost you customers.

Second, e-commerce localization is a multimedia project. You may need services like DTP, voice-over, subtitling or transcreation. Using one language service provider instead of 10 freelancers will simply cost less (both time and money).

Customers’ trust, a higher conversion rate and desirable SEO results are within your reach — all you need is a thoroughly planned and implemented language strategy. We have listed most common mistakes made by those who enter international markets with their e-commerce business and clues how to avoid them. If you want to know what strategies will be most effective in e-commerce localization in 2018, click here.

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