Best practices for ecommerce localization and translation

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Best practices for eCommerce localization and translation

Are you thinking about launching your ecommerce site in new international markets? You need to make sure your content is tailored to the culture and language of that particular locale.

That means localizing your content to fit online shoppers’ wants, needs, and preferences, which might differ from those of your home country. Effectively translating product names and descriptions can help increase online conversion rates that lead to more ecommerce sales.

You’ll probably want to consider using ecommerce translation services to give your domestic and international customers the same type of personal shopping experience. To be successful in a market, you need to provide the best localized shopping experience.Today, your global customers have endless options when it comes to shopping online. If your site doesn’t cater to their local shopping habits and isn’t available in their language, chances are they’ll go elsewhere to make their purchase.

To capitalize on the global users visiting your site, you need an ecommerce localization strategy

But translating hundreds or even thousands of product descriptions and webpages can seem daunting. This is where professional ecommerce translation services and localization come into play.

This blog post will help you determine what you need to do, and what to prioritize, to create localized shopping experiences that resonate with and convert international customers. 

But first let’s explain what ecommerce localization is all about.

What is ecommerce localization?

eCommerce localization is the adaptation of ecommerce content (e.g., product descriptions, pricing, reviews, etc.) to a specific locale, market, or culture. 

It involves more than translating content into a different language. Different regions and cultures have their own ways of formatting dates and currencies. While the United States uses a month-day-year format for dates, other regions, including Europe, use a day-month-year format. Similarly, currency symbols and formatting can vary widely between different regions. To effectively localize your ecommerce site, it’s essential to make adjustments to ensure that your site is optimized to the preferences of your international audiences.

Also, account for languages that read in different directions than left-to-right which can present unique challenges when designing and laying out ecommerce content. Other important considerations are the placement of images and graphics,  the layout of text, and the positioning of call-to-action buttons.

In addition to formatting and design considerations, ecommerce localization requires an understanding of local culture and customs. Like the use of specific terminology and idioms, and cultural norms around design and color. To effectively localize your ecommerce site, it’s important to work with ecommerce localization experts who can help ensure that your site drives revenue. 

The value of ecommerce localization: Why you should consider a localization strategy

Take a look at the statistics on global online retail and you’ll realize it’s never too soon to make your ecommerce website multilingual.

According to research from Insider Intelligence and eMarketer, the global ecommerce market exceeded $5 trillion for the first time in 2022, accounting for more than a fifth of overall retail sales. The same research report projects that the ecommerce market will exceed $7 trillion by 2025. Morgan Stanley has a slightly lower estimate, projecting that the ecommerce market could increase  to $5.4 trillion in 2026. The U.S. ecommerce market could reach 31% of sales by 2026, notes Morgan Stanley, which is an increase from 23% of all sales in 2023.

With this growth potential, it’s important for you to consider offering a multilingual version of your ecommerce site to better reach the new markets you’re targeting. It should be easy for customers to understand product descriptions, pricing, reviews, and testimonials.

Being able to provide localized shopping experiences can make a big difference in whether customers in a particular locale choose to buy from you.

Customer support should be accessible and readily available. The more comfortable customers are using the site, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Not sure if you’re ready for international, online retail? Several factors could trigger an expansion, including:

  • Receiving international visitors but not purchases
  • Launching a brick-and-mortar store in a new country
  • Outgrowing your domestic market

If these or similar situations apply to your business, the following are some ecommerce localization best practices to consider before you launch.

Best practices for ecommerce localization: 8 tips to succeed in a new market

To execute on your ecommerce localization strategy, you’ll need to choose the right ecommerce platform, adhere to international laws, pay attention to pricing and payment options, and more.

Here are eight ecommerce localization tips to help you succeed in new markets.

1. Choose the right ecommerce platform

First, if you’re already using an ecommerce platform, see if it fits your localization requirements. 

Many platforms incorporate tools and features that help streamline localization efforts. But iss it built for scaling your international ecommerce strategy? Does it offer multi-currency options, international shipping and order management integrations? While there are other considerations, above all, your existing or newly selected ecommerce platform should be translation ready and tailored for different languages, currencies and seasonal trends. 

It should fit your needs and integrate well with your CMS (Content Management System) and other platforms, such as your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), POS (Point of Sale), PIM (Product Information Management) and supplier databases.

Finally, a major part of your evaluation should be security. Your platform must be compliant with the global Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI), so be sure to ask your provider about their policies.

If you’re not sure exactly which platform would make the most sense for your organization, check out our guide about how to choose the right ecommerce platform for your business.

It explains what kinds of ecommerce platforms are available, how the leading options compare, and which applications each platform is best suited for. 

2. Decide what would work best: human translation, machine translation or both?

Once you’ve decided on the best ecommerce platform for your needs, you’ll have to translate your site’s content like product descriptions, SKUs, FAQs and customer support.

For highly creative marketing content like slogans, taglines and other persuasive marketing copy, human translation is the best choice.

Machine translation with human post-editing may be a good option when simply understanding the content is key.

Depending on volume and language combinations, machine translation can work well for FAQs, product descriptions, customer support content and technical documentation.

Here, the first translation pass is provided by a trained machine translation engine with a post-editing step provided by an experienced translator to ensure accuracy. This option is typically more cost effective with faster turnaround times.

3. Use smart strategies for search engines with international SEO

Now that you’ve translated your ecommerce site, customers need to find you, and one of the best ways to do so is to rank high in international SEO.

As part of a global SEM campaign, it’s worth taking the time to find keywords in your target countries (don’t just translate what works for you already), and use the search engines local customers prefer.

4. Make sure you know, and adhere to, international and national laws

There’s more to localization than creating multilingual content. You must be aware of local laws and regulations, including liability, privacy and return policies, which vary significantly from country to country.

One example is the European Union’s GDPR, which is a set of guidelines that allows citizens to have greater control over their personal data. Failure to comply with GDPR can result in a hefty fine. It’s wise to get help from in-country legal experts to ensure your content and processes are GDPR-compliant.

5. Pay attention to price formatting and payment options

Accurate pricing is essential to a revenue driving ecommerce site. Start by simplifying your pricing structure, including rounding all numbers, which helps build trust with buyers.

Numbers that are not rounded look like they’ve been subjected to exchange rates. Also be sure you’re pricing competitively with the market and not just converting prices based on currency exchanges.

You should also localize currency so customers know you serve their region and select a payment processor that is trusted in your new market. Give users the choice to view prices in a format they’re used to, from euros to yen to pounds and beyond.

6. Optimize the customer experience

Cultural differences will play a large part in how your multilingual ecommerce site is accepted in your new market—and it goes beyond translation.

You must create personalized experiences for your shoppers. Think about adding dynamic locale-specific content, media or product recommendations.

7. Deliver effective customer support 

You’ll need to provide great customer support in your customers’ native language whether you provide it via live chat, a chatbot, phone, help articles, emails or all of the above.

A trusted translation partner with experience in your target market can help ensure that your customers feel taken care of. Ideally, your translation provider will offer a translation connector that integrates directly with customer support platforms to reduce errors and speed up the availability of multilingual help and support content.

8. Translate customer reviews & feedback

Customer support doesn’t stop at the transaction. Remember that ecommerce shoppers rely heavily on reviews from other customers to help them make purchasing decisions.

It’s worth considering making translations available for your product reviews to gain the trust of your new target market.

Want to guarantee great results as you expand into new markets? Partner with ecommerce localization experts

While it may seem overwhelming to launch and manage a multilingual, online commerce store, it doesn’t have to be. Acclaro’s ecommerce localization services can help you sell into local regions with confidence.

We’re here to help you engage with local markets and thrive globally. Get started today to learn how we can help with your ecommerce localization initiative.

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