After 2020, e-commerce reigns supreme. Sales from online retail grew by more than 25 percent worldwide last year, and that growth shows little sign of stopping. Both now and after the pandemic, websites will be a customer’s first point of contact with a brand or company. If you’re running an online store, that first impression might be your only one. To make it count, you need to offer users around the world a recognizable and authentic experience. Localization, the tailoring of your store’s content to a local culture and market, is your key to unlocking this authenticity. From the translation to the imagery, localization isn’t just an investment in your brand’s abstract value. It’s also an investment in the concrete earning power of your online store.
Win over customers
According to the international “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” survey by CSA Research, 40 percent of users will not buy products from online stores in languages other than their native one. 73 percent would rather buy a product if some information, even just customer reviews, is available in their own language. In order to turn casual users into repeat customers, you have to knock on their doors and talk with them like a local.
Increase your revenue per sale
Buying products in an online store that you don’t fully understand or that you don’t think looks right feels risky – especially when a purchase is going to be expensive. What’s called “social proof” can tip the scales. Social proof is content that serves as an indication of a product’s quality and the concrete experience of using it, such as customer reviews or a demonstration video. Social proof is especially effective when made by and with real people. Reading, seeing or hearing others’ experiences prompts the potential customer to identify with that person – which is most effective when they all speak the same language. In comparison, customers will be cautious with an unlocalized website: they’ll buy fewer items, and those that they do purchase will be cheaper. As a retailer, this means minimal profits with maximum administrative effort – avoid this at all costs.
Don’t rely on discounts
The “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” survey also shows that 54 percent of users are actually ready to pay more for products when they see information in their own language. Localization is thus a clear competitive advantage, and one that even pays off if you have higher prices than your competition.
Localizing a website sends two clear signals. First, it’s professional – you and your store look like a serious business. Second, it shows that you’ve done your research about the target market and can offer customers the right product for their needs. Both of these bolster customers’ trust and confidence in you. This trust is decisive for success in online retail.
Bring in casual customers with SEO
Most online shoppers search for products in their native language. This fact makes localized search engine optimization (SEO) an absolute necessity for attracting casual customers. Search engines such as Google, Yandex and Baidu can increase your reach tremendously, especially when your online store is still unknown in a market – but only if you localize your SEO keywords! Here is where local idiosyncrasies take on a key role. For example, the word promozione means “promotional sale” in Italy, but in neighboring Switzerland, where the south of the country also speaks Italian, they use a different word, azione.
Connect with your customers…
People are social creatures – they want to buy from humans, not robots. Think about a farmer’s market: the old lady who always has a smile and a story, the baker with the belly laugh, the young farmer passionate about her produce. How would you feel if you got that same local produce from a vending machine instead? Salespeople are a part of the shopping experience, and that’s true online as well. A store translated by a machine will sound mechanical. Whether clunky, synthetic or stuck in the uncanny valley, pure machine translation is hardly persuasive. To connect with customers’ human emotions, you need to speak their language.
… to bring them back, again and again
And to maintain that connection, your products and services have to be convincing. When, one day in the future, a customer needs to make another purchase, they’ll think of you – if you’ve localized. If not, they’ll swipe left and move on without you, no matter how good your products are. A final note from the “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” survey: when buying the same product again, 75% of users will look for an alternative store in their own language rather than returning to their previous provider. Work on forging a lasting relationship, and your happy customers will come back, again and again.
Got any questions? Or a plan to go global? Let’s talk.
Cover image via Twenty20