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Since 2014, the global eCommerce market has grown significantly, expanding by a staggering 276.5 percent. Growth is not expected to slow, either. By 2024, estimates suggest the industry will be worth $4.9 trillion.
If you own an eCommerce business, you have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this growth – not just locally and nationally, but internationally, too. For example, the United States market may be forecasted to grow 45 percent by 2023, but China’s eCommerce industry will likely increase by 70 percent in the same period. In short, competitive businesses are primed to start targeting a global audience.
However, if your business is to win the trust and dollars of international customers, you must localize your content. Seventy-six percent of online shoppers prefer to buy from websites with information in their native language. What’s more, four in ten will never purchase from websites in other languages – if you don’t localize, you can kiss 60 percent of your sales goodbye.
There’s more to localization than translating your content from one language to another. So as you embark on your global expansion journey, keep the following eCommerce localization best practices front of mind.
Research your audience and their native market
The first stage in any successful eCommerce localization process is leveraging data to decide which international markets to target. There are several key metrics and insights to assess, including:
- Where your current website visitors are from – if international visitors are browsing your site but not making purchases, it’s time to create a localized eCommerce website for that region.
- Where there are gaps in the market – if you sell a product that simply isn’t available in New Zealand, for example, your business may benefit from filling that gap.
- Which products are popular with specific markets – shoppers in Sweden are likely looking for different clothing than those in Australia, for example.
Think beyond language
Yes, translating your content to the target market’s local language is a critical eCommerce localization best practice, but it’s only the beginning. Localization is about considering the cultural context of your content, too.
For example, consider the meaning of various colors and numbers within a culture. Have you used humor? What one audience finds hilarious another may find offensive. Think about holidays, special occasions, and shopping events, too. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge in the US, UK, and other countries, but China’s Singles Day (also called Double 11 or 11.11) is the largest shopping event in the world. In 2020, Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated $22.1 billion in US sales, a measly sum compared to the $74.1 billion spent on Singles Day specials in China.
Consider the visuals
Updating graphics and photos to reflect the audience you’re targeting and their community can vastly improve the user experience. If you sell clothing or jewelry, for example, hire local models to showcase your products. If you sell cookware, replace your images to feature local dishes. If your site contains animations or videos, do more than add captions or a voice-over. Consider re-shooting the videos with local actors, employees, or clients.
Invest in local SEO
Search engine optimization can increase traffic, boost engagement, and ultimately lift your bottom line. But users searching for an item in Australia will likely use different keywords than those searching in Japan, and if Japan is your new target market, your site needs to be optimized for those search terms.
Get your currency, units of measurement, and sizing right
One of the most important boxes to check when localizing your eCommerce site is currency. Shoppers want to know exactly how much an item will cost, and if the price is displayed in a foreign currency, they are left in the dark.
When localizing the currency, use the correct symbols, codes, and decimal marks. Some currency symbols are displayed before the number (such as $), and others are shown after (such as €).
What’s more, when converting pricing from one currency to another, consider rounding to the nearest whole number. Prices that look like they’ve been subjected to conversion may be red flags to shoppers.
In addition, consider units of measurement. Does your sizing chart use the imperial system (inches and feet)? If you are expanding into Europe, you’ll need to change it to metric (centimeters and meters). Temperature measurements also vary from region to region – in Europe, degrees Celsius (°C) is preferred, and degrees Fahrenheit (°F) is the norm in the US.
Finally, if you sell clothing or shoes, consider local sizing. For example, a US dress size 10 is an Italian size 44 and an Australian size 12.
Select a trusted payments processor
Payment can be a point of friction for shoppers, and according to one study, 88 percent of online consumers are unlikely to revisit a website following a bad experience. When following eCommerce localization best practices, select payment methods and processors trusted and preferred in the region.
Offer local customer support
Excellent customer support is vital in every successful business, so do not discount the value of offering customer care in the region’s native language. Consider providing a live chat service, phone support, help and how-to articles, email support, or a combination of the above. You could hire a team in the new region or opt for remote employees comfortable with the local language and cultural expectations.
Avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your communication channels, too. Instead, create a new, region-specific email address, set up a new phone number (ideally, offer a local or toll-free phone number – you don’t want your customer to be hit with a costly phone bill), and launch new social media pages.
Don’t do it alone
Best practices in eCommerce localization can seem overwhelming. But if you work with a team of localization experts familiar with the nuances of language and culture in your target country, the process can be quick and stress-free.
Running your site through Google translate simply isn’t enough to earn the trust of a brand-new audience. You need to meet their expectations, which means adjusting not just what your site says but also the connotations of how it says it.
Reach out to our friendly team, and let’s kick-start your global expansion. We have the tools needed to shape a tailored eCommerce experience that positions your business on a sustainable growth trajectory.