You’ve undoubtedly seen websites with options for different versions available in multiple languages. In a lot of cases, the localized version in your own language may seem stilted and unappealing, and often poorly translated. Branding and marketing are essential in any language and any market. If you’re not able to make a good impression on your customers in a foreign market, or make your site easy for them to understand and use, then what’s the point of selling in that market at all? You’d be wasting money maintaining a service that people disinterested in.
The process of expanding into foreign retail markets begins with having your website translated and localized into all target languages and locales, so that local customers in those countries can navigate with ease. You figure it’s a simple first step: compile the text from your current website and run it through Google Translate, and you’ll be all set, right?
Not quite. Even if machine translation could offer a perfect, word-for-word translation of your content (which it can’t), there are many more factors to consider when translating your site besides just the words on the screen. Here are five points to consider when localizing retail websites for foreign markets.
1. Currency and Payment Option
It’s important to make sure that the prices of all your products are converted into the appropriate currency for the country where they’re being sold, whether in Euros, Rubles, Yen, etc. But more than that, you need to consider different payment options in different countries and regions. In the U.S., you may handle most of your transactions through PayPal, but that may not be as popular in Germany or China, for instance. Become familiar with the popular payment options in the country and accommodate your customers in that region who prefer to pay by those methods.
According to Internet Retailer, shopping on mobile devices is a growing trend in the U.S., but it mobile commerce is not growing nearly as fast as other global regions. Therefore, when you’re planning to expand globally, take your mobile site’s ability to render other languages into account.
Shoppers need to be able to find your website. When you’re optimizing your website in its source language you identify keywords. This process starts again when you localize your site into other languages. Understanding how your multilingual keywords sound to each target market is essential to your global retail presence.
4. Product Description
A good product description is one that connects with the customer and entices them to want to buy the product. Unfortunately, when you simply translate word-for-word, you can end up with a product description that’s dry and dull, or one that doesn’t accurately convey its message for another culture and language. When translating product descriptions, it’s important to use engaging language, including colloquialisms and a creative tone and style that will appeal to the culture. For example, using jumper instead of sweater resonates better to a shopper from the UK, just as using sneakers instead of trainers for a US shopper.
As the story goes, shortly after Coca-Cola first entered the market in China, they had to change their brand name since the syllables of the name literally translated to, “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in Chinese. This story raises an important issue: if you are not careful when translating your brand’s packaging for a new market, all sorts of things can potentially go wrong, from embarrassing mistranslations to non-compliance issues, and much more.
Make a Great First Impression
Finding the right translation service is one of the most important factors in launching your retail product in a foreign market. You cannot go in unprepared and hope your product does well. In navigating any new market, especially one in another country, you will need a guide. A good translation service provider can be your guide and show you the best route to success. The world's most successful retailers trust Dynamic Language’s retail solutions to help them reach global success.
This post was originally published on May 5, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and freshness.