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How to translate your site for global markets (even if you don't speak the language)

Nearly 30% of shoppers in a 12-country survey say they would be discouraged by a website not in their own language.

Cross-border e-commerce will be worth some HirBetolteseOszlop1 trillion by 2020, Accenture and Alibaba Group reported last year, as consumers in the Americas, Europe, and especially Asia shop abroad for the products they want. As these 3 billion-plus consumers get comfortable with cross-border shopping, they’ll seek out sites that offer product information and store policies in their local language. Analysts have found that site support for half a dozen languages is a good target for cross-border e-commerce merchants in general. Your site’s particular needs may vary, based on your target markets and your expansion plans. Whatever the specifics, merchants who remove the language barrier, provide high-quality multi-language experiences and offer native-speaker customer support will have a competitive edge as more consumers buy across borders.

Remove the language barrier for your visitors

Consumers want to feel confident in their choices, and they’re most comfortable gathering information for decision-making in their native language. Almost 30% of cross-border online shoppers from 12 countries said they would be discouraged from making a purchase from a site that didn’t provide product descriptions in their language, according to the Pitney Bowes 2015 Global Online Shopping Study. As shoppers develop higher expectations of international merchants, they will ignore shops that don’t support their language in favour of those who do.

Your site should offer a local-language version for each country you sell into. It may also make sense to provide multiple language translation options, if your expansion plans or site traffic from outside your existing markets validates the expense. According to the PYMNTS X-Border Payments Optimization Index, merchant sites with six or more language choices rank better than sites with just one or two languages. Offering support for half a dozen widely spoken languages--such as Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, and English--gives your site broad appeal. Depending on your audience, you may wish to consider supporting German, French, Korean and Japanese; these languages don’t have such large numbers of speakers but they do serve key consumer markets.

Travel industry offers translation and support examples

The online travel industry is often held up as a model of multi-language success, because most sites offer multiple language options to serve a diverse international audience of travellers. In fact, many of the top travel players serve content in dozens of languages, optimised for individual countries and language groups within those countries.

A prime example is TripAdvisor. The world’s biggest travel site provides content in 28 languages on sites optimised for 47 countries. Forbes magazine noted that the company’s local-language content “drives higher user engagement.” Competitor Expedia’s site Hotels.com also operates local-language sites in dozens of countries and offers multiple language options for some countries, such as a Spanish-language US site and an English-language Mexican site, in addition to the primary languages in each country. This highly localised approach makes it easy for users to find vacation deals and feel comfortable purchasing them in their own language, using their local currency.

Invest in quality translation and review services

There is no substitute for personalized, professional site translation. Resist the urge to rely on inexpensive or free automated translation services, as they may introduce errors or ambiguities that confuse your customers. For example, the phrase “petite plus size dress” changes meaning when Google Translate renders it in Spanish (“el vestido del tamaño de Petite,” which omits the important “plus” descriptor). For each language your shop will offer, work with a professional translation service featuring native speakers from the regions your sites will serve. If you plan to operate Spanish-language sites in Spain and in Mexico, you’ll need native speakers from each country to provide copy that uses the appropriate regional vocabulary and turns of phrase.

Your translators should be familiar with e-commerce terminology also, to ensure that product descriptions, shipping terms, and return policies translate correctly to increase customer satisfaction and reduce returns. Good quality translations are not inexpensive but in the end, they pay for themselves in customer confidence and fewer refunds and chargebacks.

Your translation project should include site meta tags for local-language search visibility. Units of measurement should be offered in both metric and imperial units. It’s wise to write out and translate the names of the months of the year rather than relying on numerical date formats, because consumers may mistake the date for the day of the month and vice-versa, depending on the conventions in their country. When the full translation is complete, have another native speaker from the same region review the entire text and revise as needed before launching the new site or translation option.

Provide local-language support

Customers who shop your site in their native language may need support in that language as well when questions, complaints, or return requests arise. For other issues, you’ll need to hire your own native-speaking support staff or contract with a third party for customer support.

All of these steps take research, time, and a mid- to long-term focus. But as online shoppers grow more accustomed to cross-border shopping and more localised service, they’ll give their money and repeat business to the merchants who learn to speak their language.

Source: https://www.internetretailer.com


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