Localizing eCommerce websites and apps is undoubtedly a team sport. While it’s typically the translators who end up in the best position to persuade shoppers, it takes seamless coordination from their colleagues to put them there.
So instead of focusing solely on the moves made by translators, let’s take a step back and shine a light on the supporting cast that so often determines their success.
The Executive Sponsor
Successful eCommerce localization strategies aren’t managed like marketing campaigns, they’re planned as enterprise-wide priorities. As a result, localization leaders would be wise to secure commitment from the corner office before translators are even recruited.
Once executives buy into the idea of localization as a business driver, all sorts of valuable resources start trickling down to the team. Star players are enlisted, ample budgets are approved, and enabling technologies are procured.
And when executives have skin in the game, unexpected hurdles have a funny way of getting flattened so that targeted goals can be achieved.
The Market Researcher
Even the most diligent translators won’t be able to attract and convert an audience your company has no business pursuing. So before paying for a single string of translated text, make sure your target market is a strategic fit.
Seasoned investigators will start by sizing the addressable market and assessing the competitive landscape, but their analysis must extend into cultural conventions and consumer traits as well. Anything from mobile penetration rates to eCommerce fulfillment preferences could ultimately define the direction of how products are positioned and content is localized.
The Regulatory Wonk
These days, it feels like even setting up a lemonade stand requires consultation with a corporate attorney. It should come as no surprise, then, that successful eCommerce localization teams are filling their rosters with regulatory experts.
Legal advisors can provide valuable upstream support, counseling executives on how to establish foreign operations, limit tax liabilities, and comply with data privacy laws. Downstream value can also be created by confirming mandatory translation requirements and referring companies to local agencies that may help accelerate market penetration.
Regardless of company or country, though, it’s always best to assess the regulatory landscape upfront in order to spare the financial and reputational cost of inadvertently violating local law.
The Content Strategist
Should you translate all of your current content for the new market? Which content should be translated first? Does everything need to be translated by a professional? Although each of these questions concern content translation, their answers should not be decided by a translator.
Working closely with the aforementioned Market Researcher and Regulatory Wonk, a Content Strategist helps define translation necessities and priorities. Any text that is essential to facilitating customer conversions or satisfying legal compliance should certainly be localized. But beyond that, requirements will vary based on business priorities.
A merchant eager to localize an eCommerce website ahead of an imminent holiday shopping period, for example, may tag their Top-100 product pages for professional translation and leverage machine translation for the long-tail of their catalog. Conversely, the publisher of a mobile shopping app may not feel comfortable launching their localized brand experience until their entire customer service portal has been translated.
In addition to protecting internal priorities, the Content Strategist must also have the humility to adjust their plans in accordance with what’s most important to the local audience. Whereas a company may be determined to engineer an extravagant desktop experience for its domestic audience, mobile may be the only feasible touchpoint for customers in an emerging market.
Lastly, a savvy Content Strategist notes the limitations of their current team and searches for foreign partners capable of further refining their eCommerce localization strategy.
The SEO Guru
As anyone who has grappled with an international SEO initiative can tell you, replicating domestic strategies rarely leads to foreign success in the field of search marketing. Each audience segment displays its own idiosyncrasies, and considering how many online purchases now start with a search, it’s imperative that eCommerce brands understand local habits.
From formulating the right URL structures to fluently incorporating native phrases, there are dozens of variables that influence a brand’s ability to be found. In many cases, partnering with a local SEO agency is the best way to flatten the learning curve and reap rewards on an aggressive timeline. But even if your business can tolerate more gradual results, this localization responsibility likely needs to be someone’s full-time job.
The In-Country Reviewer
Every eCommerce localization process needs a last line of linguistic quality assurance, someone who can definitively say whether the translated text is fit for publication. Of course, it’s always best when this reviewer’s audience insights are the product of in-country residence.
Their on-the-ground intelligence adds a crucial layer to contextual review, ensuring grammatically sound translations also make sense for the cultural climate. This gives teams one more chance to flag the outmoded phrases and unintended implications that can creep into the vocabulary of even the most diligent native translators.
In addition to serving as a surrogate for the target audience, In-Country Reviewers also have a responsibility to be brand stewards. It’s important to remember, however, that their oversight on tone and voice will only be as strong as the style guides and glossaries they are given.
Distributed Team, Centralized Solution
With key contributors stationed across different departments, offices, and agencies, it’s easy to imagine how a seemingly simple eCommerce localization task might take months to execute. But by inviting everyone into a single collaboration environment, brands will be better positioned to keep international initiatives on track.
Executive Sponsors can assess progress in real-time, SEO Gurus can confer directly with Market Researchers, and In-Country Reviewers can easily reference the guidelines created by Content Strategists. As a result, companies can launch localized eCommerce websites and apps faster while maintaining strict quality standards.
Download Create Your Global eCommerce Road Map today to start building a sustainable plan for international success.