How to choose the right ecommerce platform for your global business

By Acclaro
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How to Choose the Right eCommerce Platform for your Global Business

You’ve decided it’s time to launch your eCommerce website in new language markets. Now, the fun starts! Whether you’re already using an eCommerce platform or not, you can’t launch haphazardly without being sure you use the right one. Let us take some of the guesswork out of that process for you, so you can expand your business successfully.

eCommerce localization is key to increasing global revenue

You probably have a good understanding of what English-speaking customers expect when buying online. But what about those who only speak Japanese or Italian? Will the customer experience be the same for them without addressing language barriers? Definitely not.

Customers in every market have their own preferences and expectations. Your eCommerce platform needs to be localization-ready, so you can create an optimized customer experience with global brand consistency in each of your target markets.

Consider this. A study by Common Sense Advisory found that 75 percent of people want to buy products in their native language and 92.2 percent prefer to shop and make purchases on sites that price in their local currency.

This means that everything from your online product descriptions to your pricing and customer reviews needs to be localized to deliver a personalized experience. Even visuals such as fonts, page layout, icons and other graphics may need to be adapted to satisfy local expectations.

Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a localization-ready ecommerce platform

Everyone has expectations when shopping online. Your foreign-speaking customers must feel comfortable navigating your website in order to make a purchase. This is why choosing an eCommerce platform with multilingual capabilities on both the front- and back-end is so important. Keep in mind, however, that there is no one-size-fits-all eCommerce solution out there. When evaluating your options, consider the following components.

  • Functionality: Does it integrate well with your CMS (content management system) and other systems like your ERP (enterprise resource planning), POS (point of sale), PIM (product information management, multilingual customer support platform and supplier databases? You simply cannot afford the inefficiencies and inconsistencies that come with having your tools operating in silos. 
  • International shipping: Logistics, shipping methods and customs laws are just the beginning when it comes to international shipments. You’ll need to investigate factors like labeling and documentation, value-added taxes and international checkout options. Suitable eCommerce platforms have this functionality built in, allowing you to ship globally with integrations to popular local shipping providers and can configure tax for nearly any country with built-in calculators. 
  • Multi-currency payments: Customers feel more comfortable making purchases in their own currency.  If the platform has a payment gateway or out-of-the-box integrations with local payment providers, you can eliminate the complications and expense of working with third-party providers and earn buyer trust.
  • Multilingual customer support: Does the platform provide multilingual customer support options to address pre- and post-purchase issues, including returns, shipping or payment errors, and discrepancies between what consumers expected and what they received? Are existing user reviews translated? Online shoppers should have the support they need before and after the point of sale. 
  • Security and privacy: Does the platform provider comply with local and market regulations for data security to avoid devastating data breaches, cyberattacks and online fraud? Make sure to ask the provider for written policies that address these concerns so you can ensure compliance from the start.

Choose wisely – which type of multilingual ecommerce platform is best for you?

When evaluating an eCommerce platform, you will need to consider whether a SaaS or open source solution makes more sense for your business. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each.

SaaS (software as a solution) online retail platforms

SaaS eCommerce platforms are hosted and maintained in the cloud by a third party, removing much of the complexity from running an online business. Instead of managing the software yourself, you purchase a license and essentially “rent” the platform for a monthly subscription fee.

You can use SaaS platforms almost immediately with pre-built, translation-ready themes and settings. While this convenient out-of-the-box design limits flexibility and customization, you get the perks of going to market faster and more cost effectively.

To give you an idea, here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular translation-ready enterprise platforms, each varying widely in their suitability for different business needs.


Target Market Strengths Weaknesses
Shopify Mid-level B2C Rapid launch, low maintenance and ownership costs, agile, extensive network of developers Weak support or features for complex product data, native product types, native filtering, multi-store


BigCommerce Mid-level B2C Native integration for WordPress (as a front-end) and social platforms, strong native APIs, B2B features Lacks the robust ecosystem and big, established retailers of other platforms


Salesforce Commerce Cloud Enterprise B2C Scalability, multi-channel, strong personalization, integrates with other Salesforce products High cost, not always intuitive, limited integrations with third parties, not as agile


SAP Hybris Enterprise B2C and B2B Flexible and customizable, multi-channel, comprehensive suite of tools, scalable High cost, learning curve, not as agile


Oracle Commerce Cloud Mid-level & Enterprise, B2B & B2C Scalable, A/B testing, good support, easy for non-technical staff High cost, few integrations, a young platform



Open source ecommerce platforms

If you’re looking for more control of your eCommerce environment, an open source solution is the way to go. These platforms are also licensed to users, but they give you complete access to the source code for heavy customizations. Many of the options support multiple languages and currencies from the start, so you don’t have to worry about reinventing the wheel.

Keep in mind that while the source code is free, development can be costly, cumbersome and time consuming. On top of this, your company is responsible for hosting the site, maintaining PCI compliance and fixing any issues that arise. If you have the means to handle this level of commitment, go for it (your team of coders will love it!)

Check out some of the most popular open source eCommerce platforms suitable for global, online retail:


Target Market             Strengths Weaknesses
Square Small to Mid-level B2C


Easy setup, requires no coding, diverse third-party app integrations, social media integrations, online and offline selling


Difficult to create or run a complex online store, weak customer support
WooCommerce (on WordPress) Mid-level B2C & B2B   


Easy setup, highly customizable, comprehensive features, extensive network of developers, strong support, can be used by non-technical staff


Lots of moving parts and third-party extensions working together, requires some technical and development skills to be cost-effective, requires performance optimization for large stores


Magento Open Source Enterprise B2C & B2B         


Comprehensive and robust features means few extensions are required, strong out of the box


Resource-hungry and requires higher development costs
Drupal Commerce Enterprise B2C & B2B               


Higher speed and performance for large stores, strong development community, built-in security


Steep learning curve, requires developers to run, expensive support


Bear in mind that both the SaaS and open source routes involve costs. The costs of SaaS are found mainly in the subscription fees, whereas open source costs pop up in development and maintenance. Be sure to carefully weigh the hidden costs of each solution rather than just the sticker price.

Select a translation agency with a proven track record in ecommerce localization services

When your success in a new market depends on the combination of multilingual content and positive customer experiences, you can’t afford to go it alone. You need the help of a translation agency with a proven track record in eCommerce localization services.

If you’re unsure which eCommerce platform best suits your global expansion needs, Acclaro can help. We have experience with and are familiar with the features of multiple online retail platforms and can help you weigh the pros and cons of each. 

Contact us today to learn how we can help you create a successful multilingual eCommerce site. 

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