Don’t get lost in translation: How to localise your online sales platforms
The golden rule of successful international trade is that customers enjoy an easy shopping experience regardless of where they are in they are in the world. Humans are inherently wired to want ease, and with localisation of your online platforms, you’re giving your customers just that; ease. Ease to shop in a language they’re comfortable with and ease to communication in their mother tongue.
85% of consumers will not make a purchase if product information is not readily available in their native language. This puts an inordinate amount of pressure on e-retailers to deliver their online content in the language of the market they’re selling in. Whether you’re selling your products from your own online store or you’re selling through an online marketplace, localising the language is key to making sales. Simply put, if you’re using the native language of the market you’re selling in, you’ll sell more.
Don’t get lost in translation
In their eagerness to get their business up and running without too many initial costs, it’s common for online business owners to allocate the minimum amount of time and resources on their translations. Language providers have been competing against each other to offer the lowest cost, quickest service for so long that price and speed have emerged as the only differentiating factories in the industry. After all, it’s just swapping words around, right?
…Wrong. If you opt for the lowest-cost services, chances are you’re getting the lowest quality translations. What’s more, if you’re not able to read the language that you’re translating your content into it’s virtually impossible to spot a good translation from a bad one (until your customers point it out).
Let’s take an example:
In 2016, leading sports company Nike launched a Special Edition Air Force 1 shoe to mark the Chinese New Year. The heels of the shoes were customised with the Chinese characters 發 (‘fa’) and 福 (‘fu’), meaning “prosperity” and “luck”. What Nike’s translation team failed to notice was that when these characters are side by side, they directly translate to ‘get fat’. Hardly the message that a sports company wants to send out!
So, whilst you may be blissfully unaware that your product listing for a sports shoe is, in fact, advocating quite the opposite, your potential customers can see where you’ve tried to cut corners, and it reflects poorly on the reputation of your brand.
As well as cheapening the perceived quality of your brand, a poor translation provides misinformation that can leave consumers confused about what it is you’re actually selling. If you’re an online retailer with no physical presence, there is no opportunity to have any real-life interaction with your products until they make a purchase so online consumers rely heavily on the content written on your online platforms to make buying decisions. If the content is ambiguous in its meaning, it’s unlikely that consumers will commit to a purchase.
How to localise your online platforms, the right way
The phrase ‘you get out what you put in’ rings true when it comes to localisation. If you want high-quality translations that accurately represent your products and brand, you need to be willing to invest.
All of your content, whether it be marketing communications, product listings or website copy, is all written in the context of your area of business. It’s also written in the tone that represents the personality and of your brand – something that significantly influences your ability to establish your brand’s identity and presence in new, overseas markets. It’s often the case that there is no direct foreign language equivalent, and translation requires interpretation rather than word-for-word translation. Specialised language solution companies can humanise and contextualise the language of your content to ensure that the message you’re sending out is consistent with the message of your brand.
Getting localisation right requires proper planning and execution, and when executed with skill, it provides a myriad of competitive advantages:
- Increased reach – The most obvious benefit of using high-quality translations to localise your online platforms is the increased number of consumers that you’re able to capture. With the ability to communicate freely without the risk of misinterpretation, you’re able to speak to a wider audience and increase your opportunity to win new customers.
- Strong customer relations – Making the effort to localise your content shows a commitment to your overseas customers and increases the likelihood of you building a loyal customer base.
- Enhanced SEO – Using contextualised, localised content will improve your search engine ranking and increase your exposure to potential customers. This is an extremely cost-efficient method of marketing for businesses who are entering a market for the first time and are looking to keep costs to a minimum.
Although commissioning a specialised translation service might seem like a big upfront expense when you’re first setting up in a foreign market, the return on investment is boundless.