What is localization?
In eCommerce, localization is far more than just a process of translating the company online store product descriptions, text-, image- and video- content into the language of the new target audience. Localization is about adjusting your eCommerce website to operate in different markets, and that includes unit and currency conversion, date formats, numbers, and even adapting to social conventions, legal regulations, and different technological standards. Specific third-party systems like payment services might not be available worldwide from the same carriers, or at all. Details such as field length for street addresses, a unique format for the address, a new registration flows that adhere to local laws are just some of the examples that make internationalization a complex project. A broader approach considers cultural factors relating to the adaptation of the business process logic or the inclusion of behavioral aspects. But going global is worth the expenditures.
What are the benefits of localizing your online store?
So why the game is worth the candle for an online retailer localizing business globally? Here are some of them:
- reaching a wider audience to acquire more customers;
- raise of click-throughs and conversions to convert visitors to customers;
- increased trust as customers are more likely to trust their own language;
- increased sales and company revenues.
The main goal of a global e-venture
The benefits you get from localizing drives the main challenge you should face: provide global customers with a customer experience as close as possible to their native experience.
Without a solid translation and localization strategy, entering a global market would be impossible.
According to Statista, English is the most common language used on the web as of December 2017. However, when it comes to the world’s most spoken language, the same source ranks Chinese as the top language in the world in terms of population with 1.28 billion speakers. Spanish is the second most spoken language with 437 million speakers while the third is English with 372 million.
Factors to consider before localizing
Translating the entire website
This a time-consuming part of localization implying translation of all database-driven content, product descriptions, and images into the language of new target audiences. This must be done with care and a dose of cultural sensitivity.
Below are the weakest points of translation you should take care of:
- spoken words or music lyrics, dubbing or subtitles in the video;
- different translation length and differences in character sizes (e.g. between Latin alphabet letters and Chinese characters) making layouts work well in one language, but poorly – in others;
- right-to-left (RTL) languages like Hebrew and Arabic;
- differences in dialect, register or variety;
- writing conventions like the formatting of numbers (especially decimal separator and digit grouping) or date and time format, possibly including the use of different calendars.
You will need to ensure adapting your user interface to handle these cases. The CS-Cart platform allows downloading language packs with the latest translations (including Chinese, Spanish and RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew). So, you can be sure that the basic information will be translated. However, the adaptation of any content will need to undergo strict quality assurance with the target country native linguists.
Target locale specifics
It is essential to review your target country where you want to expand your business. You should understand the country’s cultural diversity, language, customer behavior, and the market before starting your business. The user interface of your website should match the demands of a person you are targeting.
Time zones vary across the world, and this must be taken into account if a product originally only interacted with people in a single time zone. For time-specific issues, it is widespread to apply UTC internally and then convert it into a local time zone for display.
Cultural differences are significant. Make sure you take care of:
- local holidays, personal name and title conventions;
- aesthetics, comprehensibility and cultural appropriateness of images and color symbolism;
- ethnicity, clothing, and socioeconomic status of people;
- local customs and conventions, such as social taboos, popular local religions.
Payment and shipping
Price will have to be converted for every item based on the current exchange rate in different countries. Think about setting up a system with the automatic conversion on a time basis as rates change every second!
Payment may entail local specific operations. Explore the payment service providers on site to take advantage from or look at some local specific payment integrators here.
The most critical part of global eCommerce is securing the payment transaction. In order to deliver a secured and hosted international checkout, ensure that all transactions are legal and accepted in different currencies. We’ve got a secure payment gateway integrator for you.
Ensure the best international shipping rate to enter the local market and win competitors. Pay attention to all customs documentation and international shipping rules. You should be ready to study the case from the ground.
The CS-Cart has got the most popular world-wide shipping systems out of the box: FedEx, DHL. Expanding to the Netherlands, you may examine PostNL. Anyway, to include all specific details, customization is likely the case as there is no uniform solution.
To avoid legal violations, one has to take care of automatic blocking any item that is prohibited in the target country. Here are some more legislation points to consider:
- compliance with privacy law, export restrictions, and regulations on encryption;
- Internet censorship regime;
- additional disclaimers on a web site or packaging;
- different consumer labeling requirements;
- different taxes, such as sales tax, value added tax or customs duties;
- sensitivity to different political issues, like geographical naming disputes and disputed borders shown on maps (as in the case with India and the bill banning displaying Kashmir on the world map);
- different codes assigned by the government in passports, Social Security Numbers and other national identification numbers.
For retailers who are interested in the EU market, GDPR compliance is the No.1 must have. Don’t forget to enable the corresponding add-on on your website when expanding to the EU.
Remember localization is an on-going process that will accompany you along your development journey as your website evolves and changes. Ensure you’ve got a reliable partner with you to customize your online shop and cater for a specific locale. The Simtech Development Company can help you there providing its wide expertise in fine tuning SEO for local subdomain to keep ranking, integrating any local payment, currency converter, tax calculator and shipping systems via API, developing to care of local legislation peculiarities leading the necessity of additional checkboxes to agree with a bunch of regulations, adding functionality to hide specific products in a banning country based on client IP, customizing notifications for countries with user preferences towards SMS instead of emails. We’ve got clients all over the world to advise you a better strategy to localize for a specific market.
In the next article, we will give you more insights about cultural, economic, legal diversity issues that are crucial for digital retailers wanting to get successfully localized.