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The Why and How of Ecommerce Localisation

As the industry continues to globalise, the spotlight now shines brighter than ever on the importance of ecommerce localisation.

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It’s no exaggeration to say that this decade has witnessed explosive growth in the ecommerce sector. Yes, much of that was a result of the international health crisis – yet even that only served to accelerate trends in online shopping overall.

As the industry continues to globalise, the spotlight now shines brighter than ever on the importance of ecommerce localisation. No matter where your ecommerce business is located in the world, website localisation for your products, business profile, are all crucial details to focus on. This can include cultural differences, international sales, individual markets, and different payment methods.

Sounds like a lot of work? It needn’t be – effective ecommerce localisation is often more simple than it sounds. Yet, as we’ll now explore together, it’s an aspect of a good ecommerce business strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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Ecommerce Localisation Versus Translation: What’s the Difference?

A great deal of what differentiates translation and localisation is context. There’s a sense of nuance to localisation because it’s a more intimate and personable way to shift not only the language of what you’re marketing to your customers but the sense of familiarity they feel when engaging with that content.

The idea is to make your customers feel at home shopping with you, anywhere in the world. It means that website localisation is actually more important than simple translation. In fact, almost two-thirds of non-English speaking customers prefer buying products described in their native language, even if the translations aren’t perfect.

What does it need to be perfect? Your ecommerce localisation.

 

Understanding the Basics of Ecommerce Localisation

Everyone in ecommerce today is doing their part to avoid the dreaded bounce. A big part of that is making your customer feel welcome, subconsciously, as soon as they land on your product pages.

Effective website localisation for ecommerce means taking care of these basics first. Even if the translation isn’t perfect, a customer from another country cares more about the following:

  • Delivery to where they live is fast and secure
  • They can pay with the currency they use every day
  • That the company they’re buying from feels trustworthy
  • That you’re undertaking the right local tax practices avoiding charges being passed on unexpectedly to your customers

 

Good Website Localisation Keeps you Competitive

Ever hear how even the biggest ecommerce players still struggle in a few key markets worldwide?

Just as Amazon’s struggles to gain a foothold in Sweden gives us all pause for thought, these cautionary tales can also help underline the importance of effective ecommerce localisation overall. After all, you’re now looking to compete against local businesses, on their turf, in their language – and against native speakers who have grown up among the culture and best practices of your target market.

The good news is, nailing ecommerce localisation ensures you can match this competition blow for blow – and establish yourself as a trusted vendor of choice to an exciting new customer base.

 

How Culture Reinforces Ecommerce Localisation

Once you have these basics of your website localisation solved, it’s time to focus on the cultural context of your ecommerce store. Representation matters a great deal here – any models in your product photography are always more relatable if their heritage matches the countries you’re globalising your business into. That’s a simple yet powerful example.

However, a good cultural context in ecommerce localisation goes a little deeper than that. Think about how to frame your seasonal events and product description copy too. You won’t get much mileage out of marketing Christmas deals in Islamic countries, for example. Moving into countries that celebrate Diwali without including that thinking in your marketing strategy will mark you as a stranger without you knowing.

 

Website Localisation is Proactive Customer Service

Solving customers’ issues take up a lot of any ecommerce company’s time. Anything that can solve problems before they even begin is a good strategy to take – and so it is with ecommerce localisation. 

Many issues arise due to simple miscommunication. A customer not made aware that an order is being shipped from overseas will be annoyed at why it’s taking so long, for example – telling them this in advance saves everyone a headache.

Similarly, fundamentals like your money-back guarantees and return policies are vital to communicating in advance to establish trust. More than this though, good localisation matches customers’ needs by understanding the buyer persona of the country in question. It’s also an excellent idea to employ native speakers in countries you expand into to solve customer service enquiries with a personal touch.

 

What to Research for the Best Ecommerce Localisation

The key to effective website localisation? Research, research, research. Any market worldwide in which you intend to enter is a golden opportunity, but you know what they say – there’s only one chance to make a good first impression.

Diving deep into the daily working and leisure lifestyles of the countries you’re moving your business towards can go such a long way to understanding what makes your potential new customers tick. For example;

  • What’s trending in these countries? 
  • What annoys them about shopping online from other local players that your business can solve? 
  • What can you sell into these markets that are difficult for local people to find otherwise? 
  • Most importantly, how do you build trust and rapport throughout to encourage repeat business?

 

Lean on some Localisation Expertise

Good ecommerce localisation can be a complicated issue, but you don’t need to feel intimidated. As with anything in growing your business, it doesn’t have to be a journey you undertake alone. 

Strong partnerships are the bedrock of an effective expansion strategy. With the right localisation expertise, you can understand your new customer base from the perspective of a confident native of the nation – all while establishing your store as the new go-to place for products and potential aplenty.

 


Written by Sophia Dickinson, LEXIGO: Sophia is a writer and communications consultant with 10 years’ experience in the public service and not-for-profit sectors. She has also taught English in France and spent a year working at a local NGO in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She is passionate about writing, intercultural communication and languages (she speaks French, Indonesian and is learning Spanish). Read more about her experiences here.