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Thinking of localizing your online store? Five tips on going global.

Just imagine: shoppers checking out in more than 100 languages around the world. But which local customs should you pay attention to when going global? And can you manage worldwide ambitions both effectively and inexpensively? Sure thing – if you follow these five rules.

E-commerce has been growing rapidly for many years now. The pandemic only added to the boom: sales grew by 27.6% worldwide in 2020, with shopping outside of domestic markets boosted by 21%. Statistics from Shopify show that 58% of global sales now come from non-English-speaking countries – just one more good reason to add more languages to your store.

If you’d like to increase your available market share with a multilingual online store, there are a couple decisions you’ll have to make to keep costs under control. But where should you start? Win the hearts, minds and wallets of locals with these five keys to localization success.

Do your homework

What makes the markets or the regions you’ve got your eye on tick? What’s in demand over there? And what habits does your target audience have? Doing your market research homework up front will save you time and resources later on. You’ll find out how to get your products and shop ready for success. It’s not only about the talk you talk – it’s also the price you name and the stores they browse. More on that in a second.

Information about local culture can be found in online communities or (digital) events. Statista or Shopify regularly publish rankings and trends about the most popular exporters. It also helps to see how other retailers have tackled international expansion.

Trust the right tech

Shopify, Jimdo, Magento, Shopware, STRATO, WooCommerce, Contao – no matter which e-commerce software you work with, managing translations manually is a huge amount of work, and you’re bound to make some mistakes if you try to go it alone. Automating this workflow should be your goal. And that’s just a question of finding the right translation interface. Professional translation plug-ins can integrate with any e-commerce software, PIM or CMS. Orders go through the plug-in directly to the translators and automatically return to you on completion.

A translation management system (TMS) centralizes and enormously accelerates the translation process. Its terminology database and translation memory ensure consistency and short processing times. You can thus seamlessly translate anything from a whole new collection to small tweaks to existing copy. Process thousands of product texts per week directly in your CMS, leaving you free to handle more important tasks. If you’re already using one, connecting your new store to an existing TMS is no problem at all. Just a few clicks and you’re ready to go.

Find your fit

Your goal is to be multilingual. But there’s no reason that you can’t economize on the way. In other words, you don’t need to give every sentence the same treatment. Define for yourself which content on your website gets the most attention and where a basic translation without all the bells and whistles is enough. Select your services on that basis.

One suggestion on how to split things up:

  • Slogans, claims, headlines, blogs: transcreation, the creative way to translate

Save on costs where you can and show off head-turning copy where it counts.

Pro tip: Think about which texts your customers see. When they’re buying something, what automated emails do they receive? What does the shipping confirmation look like? Which re-marketing campaigns are running in the background? This way, you can be sure you’ve translated every bit of text.

Know your SEO

Your store’s products have to be found by a local audience. Making this happen effectively requires localized keywords. That’s the only way you’ll show up on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines if someone searches in a different language or different location.

Just quickly translating search terms, meta tags and title tags won’t cut it here. Keywords need to be reanalyzed for each new market, since search habits are different in each place. For the best results, book an SEO analysis together with your translation.

Location, location, localization!

If you’ve been following these four rules, congratulations – you’re a player on the world stage! This is an important step, but there’s one more thing to do to create an authentic customer experience. For this, you’ll need to tailor your store to your new customers’ everyday lives, from the currency and payment options to the terms of delivery and design. Adjustments aren’t only necessary for far-off regions like Singapore or Switzerland: even customers just across the pond in the UK prefer different advertising styles to those in the US.

There’s nothing to be said against setting priorities for your localization project. Concentrate on the areas that will make the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time. Market research or a quick look at your analytics will help here. The rest can be accomplished little by little. If you’re continually localizing, you don’t have to wait so long to go live. You’re also doing your future self a favor. After all, an online retail store is always changing – from just a small content update to a whole new product collection.

Got any questions? Or a localization project in the pipeline? Let’s talk.



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