Multilingual eCommerce

Multilingual eCommerce

Posted in Internationalisation by on

Porque tu sitio web debe ser disponible en varias lenguas

The dream for many eCommerce companies is to go global. Having an international store, where anyone in the world can see and buy your products is a huge draw of opening an eCommerce store in the first place. But besides opening up payment gateways that take multiple currencies, one of the most important steps to going international is being able to communicate with your customers.

The benefits of multi-lingual

Reach more people

This is of course one of the biggest wins of having an internationally-focused company that offers your products in multiple languages. You will be able to access and appeal to multiple populations, and customers won’t be turned away because they don’t understand what is on your website.

Reaching a wider audience is of huge importance to many companies, including companies that are seasonal and want to sell all-year round, and companies that are niche and need to reach global customers to survive.

Not only that, but many emerging economies have the highest rates of growth. Translating your website to appeal to Spanish or Chinese speakers might be the decision that opens up your brand to whole continents.

More customers, bigger bottom line, more brand recognition.

Improve SEO

There is a geographical component to SEO - when search results turn up, a search engine tries to eliminate results that wouldn’t be relevant based on location. By dedicating a store in a new language (and especially with a country code domain), you are helping ensure your results aren’t eliminated due to location.

Here’s some inspiration of bilingual eCommerce stores to check out.

….and the drawbacks

Of course, any type of business expansion has some considerations. When you add another language to your website, your customers will likely expect customer service to also be available in that language. This can put you in a bit of a tough position if you are only fluent in one, unless you create active strategies to do all customer service in writing, in which case you can translate along the way.

Moreover, you will generally need more content management. With every translation, you have more information on the internet that your brand is responsible for. Keeping up with any product and company updates, ensuring they are all branded in languages you might not fully understand - it can all be a bit much if you don’t pay close attention.

Ensuring your company’s cultural competence can be another issue. It’s easy to make a misstep that alienates customers if you aren’t careful, which is why it’s always good to get a native speaker’s eyes on text you’re putting out.

But I don’t speak Rakhine

There are 7,099 languages currently spoken around the world. It’s ok if you don’t speak them all. If you have a team that speaks several languages fluently, it’s a great idea to have them write up translations of your core content and contact information. But if there are languages you and your team don’t speak yet, here are a few ways to translate your page.

Use the Google Translate Widget

You can embed Google Translate onto your site, meaning anyone entering it from a different country will have the option to translate it at the top. This is by far the easiest thing to do (and it’s free). But, translations are known for not being all that great.

Hire a translator

On the other side of the quality spectrum, you can hire a freelance translator through sites like Gengo. Basically, you upload what you want translated, see available pricing and agree on a contract, then Gengo’s freelance translators will grab your project and send it back. You can communicate with your translators directly, and they have business solutions if you will need frequent translation. Upwork is a more general freelance service that includes some translators.

For some DIY snooping around for a translator, try going to community centres near you for ethnicities who speak languages you need translation for. Chances are, you’ll be able to post a job opportunity there and hire someone in your area.

Hiring a translator is a good way to go if you don’t have regularly updated text, and if you are selling on multiple domains (www.fakestore.com.au, www.fakestore.jp, etc). However, if you want to be able to edit product descriptions often or change your main pages frequently, hiring someone might not be the most efficient way.

Use an app with Shopify

There are a few great apps you can use that will automatically translate not only your main website text but all of your product descriptions, navigation, theme words, checkout pages, product variants, etc. The advantage of using an app is that it will do all of your translation automatically, offer an easy “switch between” button for customers (which also usually includes currency switches) and be optimised for SEO. The quality of the translations are sometimes a toss-up, because it is of course not a real human behind the scenes.

Here are a couple of popular multilingual apps you can integrate with a Shopify store

A few considerations before you go international

Expanding internationally is more than translation. You’ll have to decide whether you

  • Have multiple stores or to manage your store from one spot using URL redirects
  • Offer local shipping methods and local currencies
  • Offer different pricing and inventory in different countries
  • Offer customer support, such as live chat, in multiple languages

You will also need to read up on taxes and legal issues before you expand somewhere new. Find out more about duplicating and expanding your store here.

Shopify Plus makes going international really easy with three separate stores managed from your single admin, right off the bat.

Bonus read: Ready to take your store international? Read this first.

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Tags: Internationalisation



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