Global eCommerce is not an easy journey: between local languages and expressions, local laws and regulations, local partners, and 3rd parties, you must navigate through a complex ecosystem.
To be relevant to your customers, you need to properly localize your website. And when we mean localize, we are not just talking about translation.
As Nataly Kelly describes it “Localization means adapting a digital experience for users who speak other languages and live in other countries”. Localizing your online store goes beyond translation product descriptions, you need to think of the customer experience.
Interested? Here are the 5 main areas you need to focus on to be successful, globally.
One of the first and most important aspects of localization is making sure you tailor your content to your audience. That means of course translation of your content into your visitors’ language and making sure you are using the right local phrases and expressions. The German we use in Switzerland is not the same as the German used in Germany. In order to achieve best in class translation, we recommend you use professional translation services.
If you have a huge product catalog, start with your best sellers so top content is available for global customers as quickly as possible.
Beyond translating text descriptions, you also need to take care of local habits. Typical examples are currency prices, weights and measurements (imperial vs. metric), clothing sizes, electrical plug format, legal requirements (food allergens, ecotax, CE mark…).
You must provide all information to your customers, so they are able to make their purchase decision with no afterthoughts. This will increase the confidence they have in your store and products and limit the number of returns.
Growing globally means your customers are able to find you easily. And again, search habits are different from one country to another, even if they speak the same language.
No one, except in Switzerland, knows what a “Natel” is (it refers to a cellphone).
British shoppers will look for “trousers” but American ones will look for “pants”.
It is important that also you tell search engines what language and what country you are targeting so they can present the right link to the right customer.
You also must take into consideration the main search engines in the countries you plan to launch. Russians will go to Yandex and South-Korean will head to Naver.
Finally, it is also important that all your text data is translated, not just the visible part, but also all your meta-data (headers such as page title, description, tooltips, image alt texts, accessibility content…)
Global commerce means also a lot of headaches when it comes to cross-border localization.
Managing taxes in your own country or continent might already be a complex matter but wait until you cross the ocean.
Do you display prices with or without taxes? In the EU we usually display prices tax included, in the US prices are displayed excluding taxes.
In the EU again, B2B customers might expect prices excluding VAT on the product page and B2C customers will see the prices with VAT included.
Shipping is also key information your customers will look after. When will I get my product? From where is the product shipped? Are taxes and duties taken care of?
The purchase experience starts on your website, but the delivery is what customers will remember – especially if this is a bad experience. What will a customer remember when she/he has to pay for taxes and duties when getting delivered and not getting clear information when purchasing?
As part of your product localization, price is an important topic. You might think you can use automatic price conversion but that would lead to complex prices and block your customers from purchase. A $179 (excluding taxes) product translates better into a €199 (including tax) rather than a €201.87 hard to read and not commercially attractive.
Once your customer enters the checkout process, they need to find the payment modes they are used to. And again, this varies a lot between continents, countries, and even regions. A good example is in Switzerland where German-speaking customers expect to be able to pay with invoices, and French-speaking customers are used to using credit cards.
Asian customers will expect mobile payments, German will ask for Sofort, Portuguese for Multibanco… Your capacity to offer the right payment mode to the right customer is key for conversion. You can’t expect everyone to use a credit card or PayPal.
As a key takeaway, localizing your store is not just about translation, it is about knowing what your customers are looking for, how and where they search for it and offering them the services that are relevant locally
Do you want to know more or do you have plans for launching your direct to consumer globally? Contact Us!