Going global: why you need to localize your eCommerce site

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from WebInterpret, a global eCommerce solution for eSellers looking to localize their business.


Whether you’re new to the eSeller scene or a seasoned merchant, you may be wondering whether localizing your eCommerce site is a wise investment.

Statistics clearly show that online buyers prefer to browse websites and products in their own language, a language they are secure in understanding and able to fully comprehend.

More than 6500 languages are spoken by 7 billion people worldwide. Hence, no wonder that English-only websites reach less than 25% of Internet users worldwide. For example, the European Union has 24 officially recognised languages. The most widely spoken language in the EU is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), French (12%), then Spanish and Polish (8% each). Only 54% of Europeans are capable of holding a conversation in at least one foreign language. This means that almost half of all Europeans speak only one language!

According to research carried out by Eurobarometer on 13,700 users across 27 EU member states, 42% of the respondents reported that they have never shopped in an online site that was in a foreign language. Moreover, 56.2% of consumers said that obtaining information in their own language is more important than the price.

Worldwide, English is the most commonly used second language. Yet the above statistics show that internet users are as keen to try out their foreign language skills for e-commerce purposes as they are for other activities, such as online research.

Gallup’s survey on language preferences detailed the following:

  • 9 out of 10 Internet users said that whenever given a choice, they preferred to visit a website in their own language.
  • 19% never browse in a foreign language.
  • 42% never make any purchases in languages other than their own.

The eCommerce world of today has overcome the language barrier by developing translation and localisation services that help to adapt a website to satisfy the International market.

How many languages should my site offer?

You don’t have to offer an unlimited number of linguistic options, yet it is worth considering the languages spoken by the key eCommerce marketplaces such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain or China. Revenue Wire reports that to make use of 90% of business opportunities online, companies should provide carts in at least 13 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Russian and Swedish.
And when preparing to offer your product internationally, think about localizing to increase confidence in your local consumers.

What elements should I localize and translate on my site?

  • UI: increase the comfort and convenience for your international customers and save them the hassle of third-party translation tools. Use language that is simple, informative and sounds native to local consumers.
  • Currency: present prices in different currencies even if you can’t accept payment in all of them. This information will give your customers an idea of the price without having to make an extra effort and resort to a currency converter.
  • Payment methods: do some research on the most popular payment methods in a specific country. This will instil trust in your foreign customers. If they see payment methods they’re not particularly familiar with, they may be wary about security.
  • Design: check the cultural design preferences. Not only will it increase the credibility of your product, but it will also improve the shopper’s experience. You may have to make some adjustments when you translate a website; for example, some German words may be slightly longer than the English ones so you may have to tweak the design a bit.

All the activities required to break down language barriers can be delegated to companies who will provide you with translation, optimisation and localisation of your website. Some may also help you with the promotion of your products abroad, free of charge. It’s worth doing some research to look for some viable options.

So, in a nutshell…

So, now we’re clear on how important it is to communicate in the buyer’s own language, make them comfortable whilst browsing, and how–if done well–any multi-language merchants will be a preferred choice for buyers.

How does all this expertise work on a day-to-day basis and on an individual platform?

Let’s talk about Amazon.

It’s key to understand how listings can (and should) be modified on specific marketplaces. Here we will detail the requirements and recommendations for getting the best from your Amazon marketplace.
Here’s a summary of how the Amazon Process works and how Merchants can focus on getting the most from their listings:

  • Titles: Titles (and Item Specifics) should be given the highest priority because statistically most purchase decisions based on the information provided here.
    Before translating titles remove all information unimportant or redundant. Merchants often don’t realize that categories and subcategories like color, size, gender, etc., do not need to be in titles since Amazon’s categorization system already provides such information.
  • Categories: Not all categories exist between country marketplaces. Merchants should be as accurate as possible in matching the original categories to existing international counterparts.
  • Descriptions: Bullet points in descriptions can be used in titles. In some categories, Amazon removes the bullet points, leaving them empty.
  • Variations & Conversion Charts: Using Amazon’s conversion charts can be essential in ensuring accurate information for specific markets.

Hire a company to do it for you

WebInterpret is an eCommerce solution, working with leading marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon as well as providing a Global Online Store platform. WebInterpret customers have generated €4,420,667,590 in sales and are growing every day. Find out more about WebInterpret – Plug & Play International e-commerce.


Karolina Kulach, WebInterpret

Karolina is a content marketer and non-fiction writer, specialising in global eCommerce and online sales trends. Educated in Linguistics (MA) and Business Studies (BA Hons). A well-traveled individual with international education & work experience gained in London, Scotland, Poland and Germany. In her spare time buzzing with creative content ideas, including funky rhyming poems.

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