5 Reasons to Invest in Multilingual E-Commerce Localization

Last Updated April 30, 2021

Multilingual E-Commerce Localization

In a global marketplace, how can you speak your customers’ language? Here are 5 good reasons to invest in multilingual e-commerce localization.

In today’s retail industry, the battle for customers mostly takes place online in the crowded e-commerce marketplace. Central to any strategy to increase customer engagement and conversion rates is a multilingual shopper experience.

A multilingual online store is a highly cost-effective way to promote products to almost any shopper in the world. As a result, multilingual communications are becoming a prerequisite for multinational revenue and global brand recognition.

Here are 5 business benefits resulting from a successfully implemented multilingual e-commerce operation.

1. Reach More Customers

Transforming an e-commerce store from a single-language site to one that’s easily accessible to shoppers from around the world causes the number of potential customers to skyrocket.

Forget about the lengthy planning issues, protracted legal challenges, and building delays that typically occur when taking a traditional brick-and-mortar business global. E-commerce sites can rapidly expand from start-up to international success with the implementation of tried and tested localization techniques.

Going beyond basic translation, localization involves adapting the entire customer experience to meet the needs of a particular culture—considering religious beliefs, social attitudes, geographical location etc.—to the point where a local user would believe the site was developed and operated from within their own region.

Online British clothing retailer ASOS attributes its phenomenal expansion in recent years to successfully localizing its shopper experience for the global marketplace, as this data taken from the company’s Annual Report demonstrates:

  • 2000 – Opens for business as a small, e-commerce start-up in North London.
  • 2007 – Expands on its UK customer-base to generate international revenue of £4.5 million (10.5% of total sales).
  • 2010 – Launches online shops in France, Germany, and the US. International sales grow to £63 million (28% of total sales).
  • 2011 – Launches sites in Australia, Italy, and Spain.
  • 2013 – International sales reach £507.8 million (66% of total sales), delivering to 237 countries and territories.
  • 2020 – International sales reach £1,175.9 million (64% of total sales).

This colossal growth in sales by ASOS is built on a well-executed e-commerce localization strategy focusing on 7 languages and 19 different currencies.

2. Beat the Competition

In the fiercely competitive world of e-commerce, retailers must continually strive to attract and retain their clientele. As online shoppers typically take the path of least resistance—preferring to switch sites rather than overcome unnecessary obstacles—one obvious way to channel customers in your direction is to make the browsing and buying process as effortless as possible.

Research by Common Sense Advisory reveals that 75% of people want to purchase products in their native language and 92.2% want to make purchases in their local currency. This is not surprising. After all, what could be more off-putting to a shopper than being presented with a language they can’t understand or content that doesn’t relate to their way of life?

To create a truly welcoming user experience, it is essential that everything from product descriptions to the checkout process and social media engagement is personalized–and that requires localization.

3. Increase Online Visibility

An e-commerce business launching in the UK, for instance, will create content optimized for Google searches carried out by UK shoppers in British English. If the business then wants to expand beyond the UK, the site’s content and SEO will need to be localized.

Multilingual localization is necessary for three reasons:

  1. Shoppers are more comfortable searching in their native language.
  2. Shoppers from different countries and cultures have different ways of phrasing their searches as well as different search priorities.
  3. Different parts of the world have different default search engines.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is difficult enough when aiming to rank highly in one language. Multilingual SEO involves applying the same precision-targeted SEO techniques that were deployed for the site’s original language for the languages of each local market.

There’s no need to cover every language on the planet. Instead, begin with targeting the languages that will reach the largest audience for your products.

Data, such as the top 5 languages used on the Internet (see below) can help businesses decide which languages they should localize for in order to maximize returns.

  1. English (25.9%)
  2. Chinese / Mandarin (19.4%)
  3. Spanish (7.9%)
  4. Arabic (5.2%)
  5. Indonesian / Malaysian (4.3%)

4. Cultivate Local Social Influence

Online buying decisions are often made following online research. In China, for example, shoppers are meticulous in gathering every bit of product information before comparing alternatives and making a purchase. And the information they trust the most are personal recommendations.

Half of all Chinese consumers use social media to research products or find recommendations. Also, many search engines, such as China’s Baidu, rank forum posts when ranking search results. This means that social content created by the public—and businesses—can have a significant impact on search-engine rankings.

A localized social media presence, therefore, will encourage more buyers to contribute reviews in their native language, which will promote the products to more shoppers, increase the site’s visibility, and raise the company’s prestige as an active member of the local social media community.

5. Capitalize on Local Opportunities

It would seem ridiculous for a North American or European e-commerce company to ignore the potential windfall the pre-holidays spending spree can bring. Yet many online retailers fail to take advantage of similar opportunities around the world simply because they have not localized their site.

For instance, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge events in the American retail calendar. But Singles’ Day in China generates more revenue than both combined. If your site can be accessed by Chinese shoppers, wouldn’t it make sense to seize the opportunity Singles’ Day offers?

The same is true for Diwali, a time when Indian shoppers purchase gold, clothes, gadgets, and other luxury items, and El Buen Fin in Mexico, where the holiday season spending kicks off with special discounts, credit offers, and package deals to entice customers through e-commerce sites’ virtual doorways.

These events are unique to the regions and their culture. A localized site accompanied by localized marketing campaigns for such events are essential if an online retailer wishes to be part of the festivities.

Create Your Store in Any Language: Invest in Multilingual E-Commerce Localization

An e-commerce business cannot be built overnight, but there is something you can do to quickly turn a national operation into a global success.

Multilingual e-commerce localization specialist Summa Linguae Technologies combine expertise in language, business, technology, and local cultures to recreate e-commerce content for markets around the world.

So, if you’re looking to internationalize your e-commerce business, contact us today.


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