The whole world of commercial consumers are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with extremely limited offline shopping options. Naturally, the astounding increase in online shopping since the start of the pandemic has been driven by a global population of now couch-bound consumers who must turn to internet shopping for products, entertainment and many types of services. Commercial businesses are starting to realize that they must localize their eCommerce websites to make them accessible to consumers in their own languages, dialects and cultures in order to accommodate the enormous amount of new shopping traffic to their sites.
2020 eCommerce and the coronavirus (COVID-19)
Despite the extreme need for online commercial consumer shopping resources, many eCommerce sites are still not yet localized to help meet rapidly growing global demand, and many others are offering products on their sites in only a limited number of language options. This is an unfortunate mistake that is causing several businesses to miss out on the current major growth phase of the online economy, which appears likely to continue through 2020 and at least into the late spring of 2021.
Even after the virus ultimately subsides and life can finally return to normal, which we all eagerly await, a new immensely broadened online commercial market can be expected to have become a more established global consumer culture than prior to the onset of the pandemic.
Well before the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19, expert projections for 2020 online commercial sales were over $4 trillion USD and Forbes reports that 2020 B2B eCommerce is predicted to be more than double that number. Even with the pandemic, and, of course, now partly due to it, the 2020 projections are holding strong. This is not surprising, since a study recently found that among US American shoppers, across all age demographics, the majority prefer online shopping over the in-store experience.
Those numbers had not accounted for the current global health crisis and economic shutdown. Fortunately, at least for online sellers, the internet shopping solution to social distancing for consumers has drawn the entire world to online resources for everything people need or want to purchase.
Economic consequences of failure to localize eCommerce sites
As much as people are necessarily looking now for e-commerce to obtain so many goods and services currently otherwise unavailable due to the loss of Main Street and mall brick-and-mortar store choices, they still tend to click away from trying to buy from websites that don't offer information in their own language.
So, it's unsurprising that Inc. magazine reports on Harvard research revealing that most people prefer to make purchases from vendors presenting in ways that stimulate greater customer engagement. It makes sense. It's just so much easier to understand a vendor who shares their language, dialect and general experience of the region, from climate and culture to professional, civic and social engagement. So, it's natural for online shoppers to gravitate toward websites with which they can interact clearly in their own local manner of communicating.
Online businesses are offering consumers resources for goods they need and want at a time when they can't get them elsewhere, bringing growth to online sellers with well-localized online operations. But, even when a site offers exactly what a consumer needs or wants, he or she is often more likely to settle for something less desirable, or even do without the item entirely, rather than make a purchase transaction on a website in a language they can't understand.
With the COVID-19 pandemic potentially leading to a global recession, as an online commercial vendor, it's more important than ever to ensure that your business avoids preventable losses from unprepared sales sites and becomes as strongly positioned as possible to sustain sales and profit margins throughout the economic shutdown and the potential emerging economic crisis.
Why do I need to localize my site during the pandemic?
Website localization enables your website to communicate with your target customers in their own language and in the familiar way that people in their own culture communicate. That quality of communications lets your online shoppers feel comfortable doing business with you.
Customer engagement is greater, which translates into an overall more positive customer experience, one that likely tends to be smoother and more satisfying. The site visitor's sense of risk or misunderstandings that can complicate or jeopardize the completion of a successful purchase/transaction is also likely to be significantly less when dealing with a company online that is communicating with them in a familiar way.
So, website localization must go beyond mere language translation of web page content in order to give character to a communication style while still retaining any upscale imagery, sophisticated marketing approaches and superior presentation of quality that your site offers.
Localizing domestic eCommerce websites
Localization is also essential for domestic eCommerce websites as it is for a business's international target markets. Communicating with consumers in regional and local dialects in a culturally appropriate manner is key to cultivating relationships that build a brand in a given market area.
A professional localization service provider (LSP) allows you to serve your domestic and foreign markets with the same quality of messaging and communications on your company's original-language or original-dialect version of your website, digital marketing, advertising, sales, ordering, shipping, delivery, service and social platforms.
Professional website localization processes also extend to your SEO efforts, for example, to accommodate spellings of user search words and phrases in the same language in different countries and regions, as well as to many other applications to your content and networking efforts to sustain and grow your business's online sales.
What does eCommerce localization involve?
Translation for eCommerce website localization goes far beyond strict conversions of words from one language to another. It should instead be fully engaged in applying cultural elements and other contextual nuances, conforming to legal restrictions and cultural expectations.
Localization accurately applies usages of words with multiple formal definitions, colloquial expressions, sub-cultural phrases, and figurative vs. literal usages, as well as carefully manages the use of regional and demographic slang. In professional website localization, translators use research resources and have advanced socio-linguistic skills to determine the appropriateness of symbols, colors, gestures, postures, clothing, activities and countless other obscure but fundamentally important elements of successful localization.
So, high-quality website localization is not basic translation, which merely exchanges words for others. The focus of localization specialists is to convey the same brand perspective conveyed in the text or audio content of the original-language version — but ideally adapted for your target foreign market.
Advantages of localized ad campaigns
For unlocalized or insufficiently localized eCommerce sites, sales are significantly less likely to achieve maximum sales performance levels and cannot be expected to become elevated to appear on the top Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a given local market (as necessary to compete successfully online against local competitors in that area. As a result, visitor traffic generated from ads is often less than desired, bounce rates upon site entry are high, conversion rates are poor, and ROI is low.
An advantage of working with a professional LSP is their extensive in-country networks, enabling them to utilize their established connections with people at all national, regional and local levels. Their in-country content reviewers are deeply familiar with governmental and cultural constraints as well as local landmarks, popular current social themes and taboos, and other common and unique ad localization considerations.
Professional application of localization industry best practices helps ensure that the outcome of your ad localization project garners a consistently favorable response to your site from consumers in any given language, country, region and local market. This level of localization quality helps your ad content have the desired effect of triggering the responsive action from ad consumers that will help your ad campaign succeed.
Why it's essential to use only professional localization services
Doing business online in international markets means entering many potentially risky political and cultural areas, where being unaware of seemingly minor faux pas can lead to having your sales website banned from operating there. Your website localization service must be already familiar and prepared to navigate within such sensitive areas, to help you avoid potentially costly oversights of website or ad content errors. This is essential to maintaining your brand's strong reputation throughout the global marketplace of the World Wide Web.
NOTE: Of course, before embarking on a localization project, research must be completed to determine which international and domestic markets are the best targets for your business's offering vs. localizing in languages for other international market areas that might not be reasonably expected to produce a sufficient ROI to justify the investment.
Painless professional localization for your eCommerce website
Andovar's eCommerce website localization team of specialists includes thousands of talented translators working worldwide, helping clients compete successfully throughout the global online market. Our international headquarters is located in Singapore and we have localization production and sales offices in countries around the globe, including in India, China, Thailand, the United States, Colombia and Hungary.
We provide turnkey localization solutions for enterprise companies. Our services include localization engineering as well as voice and text localization for many industries. Please feel to get in touch with our helpful team at Andovar to speak with one of our experts about localizing your eCommerce website for any international market. We're here to help your eCommerce site succeed!