How to Tap Into Global eCommerce with In-Language Experiences

Matt Grech

Matt Grech

Content Marketing ManagerSmartling

The global eCommerce market has become a behemoth and will only continue to grow as internet access expands across the world. Brands can easily tap into an entirely new, massive revenue stream simply by enabling customers from halfway across the world to shop without ever leaving their homes.

In this ever-connected global economy, localization has become a top priority. As we detailed in our recent Retail Data Report, it will eventually take 62 languages to reach 96% of the world's online population.

If your brand wants to sell online and tap into the massive growth opportunity that is available, you need to strongly consider language accessibility in your brand experience.

Your global eCommerce experience must be accessible in-language

As a core concept, language accessibility is about offering your brand experience to customers in their native language. Pretty simple. But the real highlight here is just how important a high level of language accessibility really is.

Common Sense Advisory predicts that in 2027 it will take 17 languages to reach just 76% of the online population. Clearly, if your business wants to unlock these new revenue streams around the globe, language accessibility needs to be on the top of your list.

Best practices for a localized eCommerce experience

Language accessibility doesn't just mean translating your website and leaving it at that. There's a lot more to consider when localizing your entire brand experience.

1. Market Research

The first step to localizing any content is to conduct market research. This is particularly true when looking to sell to new markets. Brands must uncover the unique needs and demands of each new market to understand which products will thrive and which won't be received well at all.

It's also essential to gain a deep understanding of the culture within this market. What are the biggest shopping days? What type of messaging will resonate most with these consumers? What digital channels are being used? All of this will enable your brand to launch an effective marketing campaign around your product offerings.

2. Incorporate multilingual SEO

What good is a localized experience if shoppers can't find it? It's important to incorporate localized SEO into your content as well to ensure that it'll be properly indexed by search engines and discoverable by users.

This will require some local market research to determine the best keywords to target for each individual region, but your content should already be written with SEO in mind for easy adaptation.

3. Localize your content and media

Your web page shouldn't feel like it was translated quickly through a free machine translation engine.

The goal is to provide an authentic experience for the user. Incorporate localized elements including currency, date and number formats, translate entire product descriptions, and leverage either generic product images or swap out content for localized versions.

This is where your brand may want to consider transcreation to move beyond simple translation or localization, allowing the translator to create new content around your products and services that will resonate with that specific market or region.

4. Offer local payment methods

Localizing an eCommerce experience requires more than just translating your content and changing images.

With so many different payment options available and used around the world, it's important to meet customers where they are. For example, in the APAC region, buyers tend to prefer digital payment methods and even conversational buying through apps like WeChat.

5. Translate user-generated content

User-generated content(UGC) is authentic and real. eCommerce websites are filled with reviews, testimonials, ratings and more. UGC feels like it is coming from an actual person, not a company trying to sell to you, because it actually is.

Translating this content will help shoppers feel empowered that they have the information they need to make a purchase and like they're buying from a community that cares about its products.

6. Personalize based on location

If your brand is adding a number of new languages to the site, you may be wondering how to organize it all so consumers can engage with the proper version of your website or app. While the simplest solution would just be a region selection tool, there's another way.

Brands can configure their websites to deliver what is most likely the most appropriate language experience based on the preferred language setting and IP address of that user's web browser.

This way, consumers are always delivered the right experience every time, and won't have to sift through a menu to find their language selection.

7. Consider local laws and regulations

Selling in new markets will bring along with it an entirely new set of laws and regulations, different for each region. It's important that your business familiarizes itself with any legal guidelines, restrictions, regulations or rules pertinent to those new markets.

For example, duties and taxes may impact the price of your products or even require your business to include the cost within the price of your item. And don't forget about customer data.

GDPR has become a huge consideration for any business selling in Europe, with new rules that dictate how customer data can be stored and saved.

8. Localize your support

It has become increasingly important for brands to provide their customers with excellent support even after their purchase -- no matter what language they speak.

With the majority of customers preferring to find support through self-service channels, it makes sense for your brand to at least localize your online help center.

Your help center serves as the single source of truth about your company's product or service. Start by translating the most frequently asked questions, most commonly referenced help articles, or even user-generated troubleshooting discussions.

The Bottom Line

There's literally an entire world of customers out there just waiting to buy what you're selling.

The data doesn’t lie: there is not only a massive potential for sales when selling internationally, but also a direct correlation between language accessibility and business growth.

By offering the same great eCommerce experience in a new language, your brand can tap into this massive potential and begin selling to entirely new markets.