A Complete Beginners Guide to eCommerce Localization

A complete beginners guide to ecommerce localization

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Have you ever wondered how you can scale your business to reach a global audience? Before eCommerce existed, a business would extend its influence around the area of its physical store. When online shopping arrived on the scene, everything changed. With eCommerce, it was possible to extend your business reach. However, knowing how to take your business global and still be relevant in other countries can be challenging. This is where eCommerce localization becomes critical.

Localization is essential to cater your services and content to each country you target individually, thus making your business relevant.

This article will cover a few topics surrounding eCommerce localization. The goal is to help even beginners start scaling their business for a global market. We will be covering the following topics in this article:

  • What is eCommerce localization?
  • The benefits of eCommerce localization?
  • Which eCommerce element can be localized?
  • Things to keep in mind before localizing your eCommerce website?
  • Using professional eCommerce localization services.

What Is eCommerce Localization?

ECommerce localization is the process of taking all the content on a website or app and adapting it for every new global market. Although translating your content is a big part of localization, it is not the only aspect to consider. There is so much more that goes into effective eCommerce localization. In fact, proper localization aims to make your content look like it was made by locals, for locals.

An excellent example of a global brand that does this effectively is Amazon. When you visit Amazon in the UK, you will see different offerings for clients who live in Europe. Whereas if you visit Amazon in Japan, not only will the text be in Japanese, but the offerings will also be centered around what Japanese clients look for.

eCommerce localization also means that you’ll have to understand the cultural differences between the markets you will be targeting. This will impact everything from product descriptions, which products are displayed and even the images used.

You will be able to build a much stronger global brand by localizing the content on your website. You do this by translating the text and changing some of the contexts to meet the needs of your new market, while also capturing the needs and nuances of your local target audience. This is a more effective approach than using your existing eCommerce store and competing with local online shops.

Why is eCommerce Localization Important?

eCommerce localization is a critical step to ensure that your global outreach is effective and successful. But why is it so important?

Beat the Competition

A recent study done by CSA Research concluded that 75% of clients want to make purchases in their native language. The same study also concluded that 92.2% of potential clients want to buy in their currency.

If you want your business’ global expansion to succeed, you will need to put in place eCommerce localization to beat the competition. As the stats from the study point out, potential clients want to support businesses in their language and currency. If you do not put in place localization strategies, you will lose out to the local competitors.

Reaching a Wider Market

In 2017 the US announced a $449.88 billion income from eCommerce websites. In contrast, China reported a stellar income of $877.00 billion for the same year. Expanding to a global market has its benefits. Using proper eCommerce localization on your platforms can also help your business access these incomes from other countries.

Taking Advantage of Shopping Days Around the World

Many businesses cater for specific shopping days such as Valentines Day, Christmas, and Black Friday. However, if you use eCommerce localization to adapt your site to new audiences, you can also capitalize on that country’s special shopping days. A few of these could include Diwali in India, El Buen Fin in Mexico, and Singles Day in China.

Should I Localize My eCommerce Store?

Not all online shops need eCommerce localization. If you’re happy with your existing audience and sales, you may not want the added challenges of adapting your store to new audiences. 

However, if you plan to grow and expand your business and reach a global audience, then it is advisable to use eCommerce localization. If you want to ensure that your global expansion is successful, you must appeal to the new audience in other countries in a way they understand and connect with. The best way to do this is through localization.

The Benefits of eCommerce Localization

Before putting an eCommerce localization strategy in place, you may want to know the benefits for your thriving business. For most online stores, the main benefit can be summed up in a simple phrase: more sales. Proper eCommerce localization can increase a businesses income by 15%. Although this is a significant benefit, it is not the only advantage you can experience when localization is put in place. 

Global Reach

Implementing eCommerce localization transforms it from a single-language, single-market store to a globally accessible portal. Now shoppers from across different markets can have a local shopping experience with all the cultural elements that entails. This will expand your reach and give businesses an international footprint. 

eCommerce Localization is the process of translating and adapting your store for a new audience
eCommerce Localization is the process of translating and adapting your store for a new audience.

24/7 Availability in Local Markets

One of the main advantages of eCommerce localization sites is that they are live 24/7. This means that potential clients from different markets can browse the site and buy at any time of the day or night. 

Scalability

If you were trying to grow a traditional brick-and-mortar store and eventually take the business globally, it would take many years to achieve. An eCommerce store is far more scalable and capable of reaching a global audience without a significant financial investment. While proper eCommerce localization has to be done carefully, once it has been put in place, it can be scaled as your business continues to grow.

Outperforming Competition

Consumers are spoiled for choice with all the eCommerce stores available. This means there’s a lot of competition for businesses in the market. To compete and get your share of the revenue, you need to put in place a strategy to make clients want to support you. As mentioned, 75% of potential clients want websites in their language. This means you need to translate your content and make it culturally acceptable for your target market.

Offering Local Currencies

We mentioned earlier that 93.3% of consumers only buy on sites that support their currency. By putting in place a good localization strategy, you not only translate the website to the language of the market you are targeting but will also be adapting other areas such as the currency to also match the market you are targeting. By offering your products and services in the native currency, you will be making it much easier for your clients to buy.

Capitalizing on Local Opportunities

We mentioned how you could capitalize on specific shopping days such as Valentine’s day and other celebrated holidays in the country you are targeting. This can be very valuable as it means you can have so many more options for shopping days. We all know how big Black Friday is, right? In China, they celebrate Singles Day, which generates more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Can you imagine the potential revenue if you had targeted all these days with effective localization?

Local SEO

Search engine optimization is what determines your search ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. When you branch out globally and start to put in place a localization strategy, you need to apply SEO strategies for all the new markets. Doing this effectively will increase your international SEO score, which will increase your traffic overall. International SEO optimization will also help your products or services rank for all relevant searches.

Increasing Traffic

Expanding your business globally will increase your traffic as more people can visit your site. But, you can increase your traffic by putting in place localization, SEO strategies, and digital marketing when scaling your business to a global scale. The top five countries that consistently rank the highest for the amount of web traffic received on eCommerce sites in order are China, the USA, UK, Japan and Germany. If you have localization strategies set to target these top five, that would increase your traffic.

Personalize the Shopping Experience

Personalizing the UX or user experience through localization can have many benefits for your business. 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site that remembers and addresses them by name and makes recommendations based on previous searches and purchases. After putting in place personalization into their eCommerce site, 93% of companies have seen a rise in conversion rates.

Meet All Native Regulations

Different countries and even regions have their own regulations regarding tax, data privacy and many other legal aspects. By putting in place a complete eCommerce localization strategy, you can ensure that all of these regulations are being met. This will include information in product descriptions, HR documentation for international employees and much more. Having your eCommerce localization done will mean avoiding the potential red tape that could harm your business down the line.

Which eCommerce Elements Can Be Localized?

Now that we’ve covered the different benefits there are to eCommerce localization. We also need to look at the different elements of your website that can be localized.

Product Descriptions

Localizing your product descriptions is much more than just translating the information from your existing site. There are other components to consider when it comes to localizing your product or service descriptions. For one, the unit might have to be adjusted to those countries.

For example, if you’re selling clothes, you may have to convert the size to what’s used in that country. Your product name might also need adjusting, especially if the name also indicates the product’s use. Some products may even have to be removed from the listing entirely depending on the market you are targeting.

Special Offers

Localizing special offers is a great way to capitalize on different shopping days around the world. We’ve already discussed the benefits of capitalizing on shopping days, but the same benefit can be achieved by localizing all your special offers. 

Branding

We all know how important consistent branding is for a business’s success. But, using the same colors, fonts and even focus across multiple countries, cultures, and languages may not be effective or appropriate. This is why the most successful global brands, such as Coca Cola, started conveying the brand’s attitude rather than the literal branding material.

When the soft drink giant first entered the Chinese market, the brand name, when translated, meant ‘biting the wax tadpole’. This phrase is not appealing, so the brand found an alternative phrase that conveyed the brand’s attitude.

Customer Support

In recent years studies have shown that 60% of customers prefer digital self-serve tools such as websites, FAQs, apps and chatbots for simple questions. Among millennials, chat is the preferred method of support. As such, it is not only important to translate and localize your FAQs, but you also have to adapt your AI-driven chatbots.

Customer support is one of several elements suited for eCommerce localization.
Customer support is one of several elements suited for eCommerce localization.

For example, in the USA, consumers don’t mind being addressed by their first name. But, if your chatbot were to do this in Japan, consumers would find this extremely disrespectful. In Japan, the proper way of addressing someone is by their last name followed by the suffix -san to show respect. 

Images

Images not only refer to photos of your products or services but can also be diagrams, charts or infographics. Images can be compelling tools to use if they are appropriately localized. Factors that may appear in images that should be localized include references to sports not enjoyed in that market, religious symbols, how modestly women are dressed, animals provoking different sentiments, visual metaphors that can be misinterpreted, flags, and local practises.

Content and Blogs

A blog is an essential resource for any eCommerce site as it establishes the brand in the consumers’ minds and builds trust. However, a blog can only be successful if it includes locally relevant content that resonates with people in that area. It will be necessary also to use localized SEO and newsworthy stories from the area and will ideally be created by someone from the area.

SEO

Your SEO can not just be translated from the content on your original site. To grow your business globally, you’ll have to put in place the precision SEO targeting you used for your original site but target keywords and search terms relevant to your new market. To do this, you’ll need to be aware that specific terms may be phrased differently in other parts of the world.

Also, certain countries use different words that mean the same thing. For example, in the USA, French fries are used, but in the UK, they are called chips. Search priorities might also vary in different countries depending on the climate and economic factors.

Mobile Apps

You can’t ignore the importance of mobile apps for your eCommerce site. With about 44% of internet retail minutes being spent on mobile, this is just too much traffic you could lose out on if you don’t have a localized mobile app.

When it comes to localizing mobile apps, you have to take a careful approach, especially when it comes to graphic symbols and emojis. For example, the ‘rock on’ emoji that is popular in the USA is used to mock an unfaithful partner in Greece, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Columbia.

Social Media

You shouldn’t limit your eCommerce localization to your online store. To be successful in new markets, you will need to establish a localized social media profile on the platforms popular amongst the locals. You’ll also need content specifically curated for that market. Keep in mind that social media localization includes images, videos, captions and hashtags.

Things To Keep In Mind Before Localizing Your eCommerce Website

As with any new strategy that you put in place, there are always a few considerations that you should keep in mind. Let’s look at a few things you should keep in mind before using eCommerce localization.

Local Laws and Regulations

This is a critical consideration before you launch your website in a new market. Trade regulations, online business laws, taxes and more differ from country to country and sometimes even within different regions. You will have to ensure that you meet all the regulations and laws that apply to your business.

Local Opportunities

The main reason for expanding your business to a global scale is to increase your sales. You will need to consider local opportunities such as holidays and others to take advantage of in these markets. Creating localized marketing campaigns and discounts can help you to take advantage of these opportunities.

Local Price Tags

As mentioned, most consumers want to buy in their currency. Not having this option available will discourage consumers from making purchases on your eCommerce site. As such, all currencies displayed on your site should be in the correct currency for that country.

Multilingual Customer Service

This is usually one of the last steps in your eCommerce localization process. You are giving consumers a chance to communicate questions and issues in their language. Having a multilingual support service available will help consumers solve their issues much faster, thus relieving your support team. Translating your tickets replies, knowledge base, feedback and more will help you provide a much more personalized user experience. 

Using Professional eCommerce Localization Services

Knowing how to put in place a localization strategy for your eCommerce website can be challenging. You will have to translate all your content into many different languages. Unfortunately, free translation services are not accurate, and unless you know all the languages fluently, this part alone will take a lot of time. The content, once translated, will also have to be adapted to the new market, which requires extensive knowledge of each new market you are targeting. You will also have to put in place SEO strategies and identify keywords and search targets for each new market.

A professional eCommerce localization service can help you avoid common pitfalls.
A professional eCommerce localization service can help you avoid common pitfalls.

As you can see, putting in place localization effectively can be demanding, and it may not be possible for you and even your current web development team to handle it alone. That is why there are professional eCommerce localization services. These businesses have all the know-how and experience in many different markets to assist you to put a successful localization strategy in place.

Conclusion

Implementing a localization strategy is an essential component in scaling your business to a global scale. Not only are there significant benefits for your business, such as increasing your sales and conversions, but they can also boost your traffic. If you want to grow your eCommerce site and take your business global, you must put in place a strong eCommerce localization strategy.
If you are ready to take the next step in growing your business and want to get a localization strategy in place, look at our professional localization services.

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