Since the advent of the Internet and smartphones, businesses have been global by nature. But this report further reinforces the tremendous opportunity online retailers have to attract new retain consumers around the world as cross-border e-commerce heats up.
However, with so much global competition, how do you get international consumers to choose your brand? The answer is surprisingly simple: speak their language. Technology may be breaking down geographic borders, but if you aren't translating and localizing your websites, mobile apps, e-commerce apps and other digital content, your international sales are most likely still hampered by language barriers.
Delivering high-quality native-language content that fully reflects the way your target customers live, act and speak is the most effective way to engage multilingual consumers and drive global growth. And with cross-border e-commerce bringing immense international opportunities, it has never been more important for online retailers to dive into the world of translation.
Three tips for localizing the retail experience for international customers
To create meaningful, emotional connections that prompt consumers to interact with and invest in your company, you need to make them feel at home with multilingual content and a culturally relevant shopping experience. Following are three best practices for turning international traffic into loyal repeat buyers through the power of translation and localization.
1. Develop a strategy for going global
The first step for any retailer is to identify which languages should be prioritized for translation. This decision should be based on the location and spoken languages of your current customers rather than on the languages spoken in the countries you wish to break into. Translation and localization will enable you to expand into new countries, but you first must provide high-quality multilingual content and a localized customer experience for existing shoppers.
Once you've identified your target languages, you then need to determine which content to translate and localize. And contrary to what you might think, you don't have to translate everything to see a return on your investment. Many companies are taking a phased approach to translation, focusing first on content that has the most significant impact on business operations and company growth. "Partial" translation was not always possible, but with today's modern translation technologies, picking and choosing which content to translate has become commonplace.
Last but certainly not least, when developing your content strategy, it's important to go beyond translating text from one language to another. Localization and transcreation should also be part of your global content process. Localization entails adding cultural nuance to translated text, and transcreation involves adapting and creating entirely new content for the right cultural fit. Together, translation, localization and transcreation will help you deliver the best customer experience possible for your international shoppers.
2. Select the right translation resources for your business
Employing professional human translators is the best way to generate accurate, high-quality multilingual content. Why? Because, as we just discussed, effectively engaging multicultural customers entails going beyond translation and delivering a culturally relevant experience – something that machine translation tools just can't provide. While machine-generated translations may give someone a general idea of what the content means, the results are often inaccurate and out of context.
It's important to note the distinct difference between machine translation tools (e.g., Google Translate) and translation management technology. The latter enables companies to reap the benefits of human translation while removing complexity, cost and time from translation by automating the non-linguistic parts of the process. The powerful combination of human translation and translation management platforms enables retailers to deliver high-quality multilingual websites, Web apps, mobile apps and other digital content faster, more efficiently and more cost-effectively than ever before.
3. Master the checkout process
The most influential factor in dictating online success versus failure is often the checkout process. So if you've made the investment in multilingual websites and mobile apps, it's also important to master checkout page localization so global customers aren't abandoning their shopping carts at the last moment.
Many times, companies neglect to translate the checkout page into local languages. As a result, when customers land on the page, there's a gap in the user experience that prompts shoppers to hesitate, stall or abandon the purchase altogether. And again, similar to the rest of your site, mere translation will not be enough to secure buyers. Content localization and transcreation is perhaps most important on the checkout page because visitors need to see a familiar currency, along with culturally relevant address and date formats, courtesy titles, and so on. You don't want to lose shoppers' trust because you made the mistake of using the term "zip code" rather than "postal code" or "pin code."
Additional tips to keep in mind when localizing your checkout page include:
- Locate the checkout page on the local site – Locate your checkout page on the same country/regional website. Otherwise, if you move customers to the .com site, you risk leaving them wondering whether an error has occurred, or worse, if they'll be catered to appropriately.
- Support your customers' currency, payment platforms and preferred technologies – To reassure potential customers, let them know as early as possible that you support their preferred payment methods. Credit cards are not a widely used payment method in all parts of the world. For example, in India e-commerce wouldn't have taken off if not for the cash-on-delivery option. And if you're selling in China, Alipay should definitely appear on the checkout page. For Africa, you'll need customized apps since consumers there rely almost exclusively on their smartphones.
- Tailor customer support by region – In addition to providing customer support information in your shoppers' local languages, prioritize the appropriate form of support in each region. You might find that phone support is the ideal solution in one country, but email support works better in another.
With the cross-border e-commerce market booming, now is the time to get in the global game. Localized websites, mobile apps, e-commerce apps and other digital content have a tremendous impact on consumer attraction and retention, and overall global growth. And thanks to today's technology, delivering high-quality native-language content to shoppers around the world has never been easier.
Judd Marcello is the vice president of marketing at Smartling, a New York-based translation management platform company.