Localizing user reviews: why machine translation is the best (and often funniest) option

Product reviews have just one job: to provide other users with information. That’s why most online stores simply rely on machine translation to make them accessible to customers worldwide. It’s a sensible approach, but it’s not without pitfalls – or humor.

The online shopping experience is most authentic when it happens in your native language. So if you want to target customers all around the world, you’ll need to localize your store content. While product descriptions need to shine in every language and marketing texts should be just as creative in Zulu as they are in Arabic, user reviews have an entirely different function. They explain what it’s actually like to use your products – both to other customers and to you yourself.

Why machine translation makes the grade here…

Customer feedback describes consumers’ actual experiences with your products or services. This user-generated content doesn’t need to sound good – honest feedback is best, even when it’s blunt. And the same is true of the translation. Here, speed and intelligibility are more important than well-written, error-free texts.

In fact, it’s been found that users actually rate the online shopping experience higher if the reviews have clearly been translated by a machine: a win-win scenario for you, as machine translation costs just a fraction of human translation.

… even if it sometimes offers some wacky results

Machine-translated user reviews also provide a different kind of added value for customers. Users can test their language skills by switching back to the original language… or just enjoy the interesting interpretations that MT engines can come up with.

Examples from various online stores


If you’re keen to avoid any truly embarrassing errors and ensure that customers can understand your reviews, Supertext would be happy to help you evaluate and implement the ideal MT solution for your online store.

Cover image via iStock

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