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Best Practices For Translating Your Ecommerce Website

3 years ago
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If you’re hoping to expand your web store into a new country or reach multilingual markets, your first step is likely going to be translating your eCommerce site. 72% of customers are more likely to buy a product if the website is in their language, according to the Harvard Business Review. And for over half of customers (56.2%, to be exact), the ability to shop in their native language is more important than price.

Translating your website can be one of the most effective strategies to boost engagement and sales. But where do you begin?

Below, we’ve collected the best practices for translating eCommerce sites, no matter what your budget.

Assess your needs and consider your scope

No matter whether you’re running a huge catalog or are selling a few boutique items, you can save a lot of time and money by taking some time at the beginning of the process to think about your needs. Do you have a lot of inventory overturn? Do you need to recreate a particular kind of brand voice? What’s your timeframe and translation budget?

With the answers to these questions in mind, you can write a project scope document. It’s a combination of a project plan and a wishlist, and it gives your translation partner a clear vision of what you need and want. Your document should include big-picture goals and little details, like what source files you have access to and how much review you’d like built into the process.

Work with subject matter experts

For the key parts of your eCommerce site–any large branding copy, major marketing assets, landing-page material–consider bringing in translators with subject matter expertise in your area.

Your products are specialized and need specific, accurate descriptions–and so you need a translator who understands the nuances of your industry. A subject matter expert will know just the right way to express a concept, or will know exactly what kind of safety documentation is required in a country.

Subject matter experts with marketing expertise can help you with any transcreation or creative adaptation you need to do on the website for marketing purposes. Sometimes, it might be easier to re-create a particular paragraph of content in your target language than to twist yourself into knots trying to get the syntax just right.

Use machine translation for the big stuff

If you regularly cycle through a huge catalog of items, you might be thinking that your volume is way too large and your turnaround time is too short for a regular translation process. In these cases, sometimes machine translation is a good option. Machine translation options can give you quick, relatively accurate translations, and in high-volume situations this can be an efficient way of getting your web copy translated.

A way to balance the speed of machine translation with the accuracy of manual translation is to have the first pass machine-translated and then have a translator review the text. They can keep an eye out for any inaccuracies and correct major errors, but won’t have to do the bulk of the work.

If you’re using the same vocabulary over and over in your product descriptions, using translation memory as part of your automated translation process can save you even more time. Over time, your translation software can “learn” key words and phrases so you don’t have to keep re-translating them.

Design matters

Once you have the translations the way you want them, you can do a final pass to make sure the web design looks right. This can mean replicating your brand design in another language, or adapting your website’s design so it’s in keeping with the eCommerce standards of your target country. For example, some countries prefer brightly colored, highly informational product catalogs; in other countries, clean and minimalist product images are the way to go. You can do some UX research in-country to learn shoppers’ behavior, and then implement these choices in the design of your website.

With these best practices in mind, you can efficiently translate and localize an eCommerce site.

Author Bio: Stephanie Harris is Marketing Manager at Venga Global, a translation and localization company with expertise in over 100 languages that partners to support client’s global ambitions. She manages event logistics, content and collateral creation, marketing metrics, blog and social media, SEO, and client appreciation initiatives.

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