Best Practices for eCommerce Translation

eCommerce Localization

Strong eCommerce localization strategies are critical for generating sales in different countries.

If you already generate lots of sales in your domestic target market, you might think that you can simply translate your eCommerce site into different languages to grow into the global market. But basic measures like machine translation could make it much more difficult to break into international markets. Focusing on translation alone skips important contextual and cultural details in the localization process. You’re far more likely to build trust with local customers when you make the effort to align the user experience with their expectations.

Let’s explore why eCommerce localization is important, and what factors to consider before you localize your content.

Why You Need eCommerce Localization:

While a full website localization can be more costly and time-consuming than a basic translation, it’s a good investment that will pay off in international sales.

Here are the top four reasons why you should localize your eCommerce site.

1. Open Doors to New Markets with Localization

Market research shows internet users are more likely to browse eCommerce websites in their local language than in English. Localizing for a specific language and culture will make your online business more approachable to consumers. With more online shopping taking place on smartphones every year, you also need a localized mobile website to stay competitive.

Example – In India, studies show that the vast majority of people consume online content in their native language rather than in English. In addition, many Indians who do not own a computer do own a smartphone. India is the third-largest consumer market globally, so localizing your site for the main Indian languages is essential if you want to do well there.

2. Connect to New Target Customers with Localized Content

When you expand into new markets, you’ll have to navigate unique cultural differences. Content that’s successful with your target audience in one location might not receive the same reaction in international marketing campaigns. Even people in different regions within the same nation might perceive the same content very differently.

Example – People in western countries tend to express themselves more openly compared to other regions. Potentially explicit or offensive content might seem normal in the west. But it may be considered inappropriate by people in certain other countries—especially those in the Middle East. The Middle East is one of the largest markets in the world, so it’s best to localize your site to conform to its more conservative sensibilities. This is just one example to show how localization involves both content management and translation.

3. Use Localization to Personalize your Customer Experience

Even if a prospective international customer is interested in your products, they won’t engage with your brand if they can’t understand your website. Ecommerce localization services help you engage international prospects and provide them with tailored customer support.

Example – To minimize friction for buyers in different regions, policies for things like payment options, shipping, returns, and exchanges should be easy to follow for everyone.

4. Tap Into Local Holiday Revenue Streams with Localization

If you’re an eCommerce vendor, you already understand the importance of local holidays and festivals. Holiday shopping isn’t limited to one part of the world, so you shouldn’t assume that your international customers are interested in American holidays. Running unique promotions for different holidays is one of the best ways to maximize global eCommerce sales.

Here are some of the most important holidays for eCommerce customers around the world:

    • China – China celebrates Singles Day every year on November 11th. The Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba makes the most of Singles Day shopping sprees by bringing in more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
    • IndiaDiwali, a festival of lights traditionally held in November, is one of the busiest shopping periods in the country.
    • The Middle East and Africa – Several global brands offer special deals during Ramadan. Ramadan is based on moon phases rather than specific dates in the western calendar, so you’ll need to confirm the start and end dates every year.
    • Australia – The holiday season “down under” centers on a major November shopping event called Click Frenzy. Like Cyber Monday in the US, Click Frenzy is an online mega-sale with deep discounts and special offers from retailers.
    • The United States and more – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are generally associated with the American market, and they’re gaining traction worldwide. Countries like Spain, Colombia, Japan, Ireland, the UK, Italy, Germany, Chile, and Portugal now have their versions of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

To maximize global sales, plan your content calendar around important holidays and provide localized shopping experiences for customers in different regions. Soon enough, your international holiday deals will deliver the ROI you’re looking for.

Key eCommerce Features to Localize

All around the world, the global eCommerce market has seen extraordinary growth in recent years. In India, for instance, eCommerce has outgrown many brick-and-mortar rivals. Flipkart, a leading eCommerce retailer in India, was founded in 2007 and is still growing. Now is the perfect time to tap into foreign markets.

Here are some of the most important elements to focus on during the optimization process.


Naturally, the language translation process is an essential part of eCommerce localization. Customers are more likely to buy from you when they can find content in their native language. First, you’ll need to identify which language to use in a particular local market. Keep in mind that many different languages may be spoken in different regions of one country.

For example, research shows that the Indian population reads most content in Hindi. Hindi language queries on popular search engines have more than doubled in the past few years. Moreover, similar trends have been identified for the country’s other regional languages.

SEO Metadata

SEO is just as relevant to eCommerce localization as it is to domestic marketing campaigns. Merely translating search terms isn’t enough. You’ll need to perform keyword and competitor research for every unique region and target language.

Even in cases where English is the local language, don’t assume that the same keywords will lead to the same results. Depending on local usage, a search term could be phrased differently in two distinct regions that share a common language.

Customer Experience

Along with language barriers, you should also consider cultural differences that could impact the customer experience. Formalities and pleasantries can vary widely from one country to another. Customers in different cultures expect different types of interactions when they engage with their favorite brands.

American consumers typically prefer an informal style, so American customer service is often quite casual. However, a casual tone may be viewed negatively in more formal cultures like Germany and Japan.

To reach customers with different backgrounds and cultures, do your research first to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate. Aside from basics like translating product descriptions, you’ll need to consider the following elements of your eCommerce site:

    • Payment and Currency – Many eCommerce businesses overlook payments and currencies when they localize for new markets. Online shoppers want to see prices that they understand. They don’t want to convert currency or calculate exchange rates. You should list your prices in the local currency and include appropriate taxes and exchange rates. Remember that international consumers might also prefer different payment methods than your American customers.
    • Help Sites, FAQs, and Policy Pages – An accurately translated FAQ page will help you answer common questions and alleviate any concerns from prospective buyers. While some answers will be the same for all consumers, you might want to add some extra details to your international pages. For example, overseas customers might want to know about delivery times, shipping costs, and customs fees. It’s critical to offer clear answers in the customer’s local language to give them more trust in your brand. Ambiguity in your policies or product information often leads to more returns and fewer repeat customers.
    • Order and Contact Forms – Contact and order forms need to be translated accurately so users know how to reach you. Addresses and date formats can be tricky. For example, most international buyers will expect dates in the DD/MM/YYYY format instead of the American MM/DD/YYYY style.
    • Checkout Pages – The checkout page is where you close the sale, but it can also be where you lose the lead. Far too many businesses redirect their checkout pages away from local sites back to their main website. This is a huge mistake for localization. Customers don’t want to go to unfamiliar sites without warning at the last minute before their purchase. With that in mind, you should make sure that customers can complete the entire checkout process in their local language without leaving your localized site.
    • Customer Service – Customers should be able to ask questions and understand your answers in their language. Localized support boosts trust in your brand and increases repeat business. You can add even more personalization by implementing multiple service options such as email, live chat, social media messaging, and live phone conversations.

Use Localize for Your eCommerce Localization

Build a stronger presence in international markets by crafting a fully localized customer experience in your audience’s native language. While a simple Google Translate job might be enough to make your website comprehensible, it won’t give international consumers a reason to switch from the local brands they’re already familiar with.

Whether you’re getting started with multilingual eCommerce or looking for ways to improve your approach to new markets, Localize’s powerful and scalable translation management platform will help you reach your localization goals. Contact us to learn more about the platform.

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