International ecommerce

3 Steps to Mastering Ecommerce Localization

3 Steps to Mastering Ecommerce Localization
Merve Alsan
Written by
Merve Alsan
Merve Alsan
Written by
Merve Alsan
Reviewed
Merve Alsan
Reviewed by
Updated on
December 20, 2023

Expanding your ecommerce business into global markets can backfire if you don’t master ecommerce localization. For example, if you run an ecommerce business based out of the US and want to expand into Japan and China, then you need to localize your site to succeed in those target markets and increase your conversion rates. After all, 40% of consumers won’t buy in other languages—so when they see that they can’t understand what’s on your site, they’ll likely exit out.

To avoid this, it means you need to:

  1. Translate your ecommerce website. You want to make sure your new potential customers can understand your content—and that it comes across as natural. The fastest and most effective way of doing this is using website translation software, which we cover in detail below.
  1. Localize your checkout experience. This includes letting your new demographic see prices in their currency, make payments with methods popular in their region, and fill out forms with their contact info.
  1. Localize your branding and marketing. Different cultures respond differently to branding strategies, color palettes, and marketing campaigns. They also have different holidays, sales trends, and values.

Localizing your ecommerce site is a significant project, covering everything from translation to delivery logistics. There’s a good chance you’ll need to use a design and development team for some of these steps. But the good news is that translation, the first step of localization, can be handled within minutes.

Quote from Mike Robertson, Director of Sales Operations at Nikon

But first, let’s take a look at what ecommerce localization is.

What is Ecommerce Localization?

Ecommerce localization is when you modify your online store’s content—that includes your product names, descriptions, checkout page, blogs, and even payment options—to fit the context of your different markets. That means you’ll localize your online business per target market.

The goal of ecommerce localization is to make the online shopping experience more natural for your customers. If you’re hoping to target European and Latin American customers who speak Spanish, it wouldn’t make sense to have one Spanish website catering to them both since they’re in different countries. Instead, it would make more sense for your localization strategy—and the customer experience you’ll offer—to localize your store for each audience.

What Are the Benefits of Ecommerce Localization?

Adapting your ecommerce store to your local markets offers many advantages, such as:

Proceeding With Purchases

The more time customers take before deciding on a purchase, the more likely they’ll abandon their cart. Factors that contribute to this: not knowing the total cost right away through hidden fees or needing to convert to their local currency, or seeing that extra costs (such as customs and duties) were too expensive for them. Localize your ecommerce store by adding prices in your audience’s respective currencies.

Accelerating Your Global Reach

An ecommerce localization strategy means tailoring your existing ecommerce store to specific audiences. As search engines prioritize the most relevant content when presenting results to users, that means they’ll more likely rank your website higher since it’s been modified to suit the context of that specific demographic.  

Building Trust With Your Audience

Ecommerce localization involves deep market research to understand a demographic’s context. So when a customer lands on a website that is clearly tailored to them, they’ll believe that you have taken great care to research their needs and preferences. Thus, you are the business that will offer the ideal solution to their problems.

Better Conversion Rates

Localizing your ecommerce store means removing many barriers to purchasing: offering information in their content, displaying prices in their currency, streamlining the checkout process, and proving to your customers that you truly understand them. And when those barriers are gone, your visitors will engage with you more easily—leading to improved conversion rates.

To help you localize your ecommerce business successfully across the local language, logistical, and cultural barriers of expanding into a new market, we’ll take a look at three important steps.

Step 1: Translate Your Ecommerce Website

The first step of the localization process is translating your ecommerce website into its new language. And the fastest and most effective way to do this is using website translation software that offers machine and human translations.

That’s what The Bradery did when they decided to choose Weglot to serve their international customers better.

The Bradery is a French ecommerce brand that wanted to keep quality brands and young designers accessible to customers in a sustainable, affordable way. They do this by partnering with specially chosen brands and selling overproduced items through daily flash sales. That way, they’d help minimize clothes that end up in the landfill.

However, they have more than 500 products uploaded daily to their site, and translating each of those into both English and Spanish by themselves proved to be too tedious and time-consuming.

Screenshot of The Bradery homepage

Thanks to Weglot, The Bradery was able to enjoy a hands-off translation and localization process, even with 500+ new product information and descriptions and pages to manage each day. They even tested Dutch and Italian on their website to see the feasibility of catering to more international markets, made possible by Weglot’s flexibility and support for over 110 languages.

Weglot uses advanced neural machine translation from leading MT providers that automatically translate your site, allowing you to instantly provide a better user experience for your new audiences. Neural machine translation (NMT) works off advanced algorithms that “learn” about the language as it’s translating it. That means it’s consistently learning the most accurate and natural way to translate words and phrases.

With Weglot, you can:

  • Edit your translations: After Weglot is done translating your ecommerce site, you can go through and manually edit your translations (or hire a professional translator through Weglot). Polaar relied on machine translations generated by Weglot, and only 10% of them needed small manual edits, made through the Visual Editor. That made managing product descriptions across website versions even simpler.
  • Keep your site updated. Automatically translate new content as it gets published. Ecommerce sites are constantly updating their pages, adding new products, categories, and blog posts. To save time, these new pages are automatically translated as soon as they go live.
  • Follow multilingual SEO best practices. Weglot automatically adds hreflang tags and translates your meta titles and descriptions so that search engines like Google can index them accurately and easily in different regions, allowing online shoppers to locate you right away. Plus, you can fine-tune your search terms according to what local customers use, allowing you to charm your target country more strategically.

Weglot Helps Your Localized Site Get in Front of the Right Audience

Localization isn’t just about translating your content, but making sure your website is well received in its new market. One way of doing this is optimizing your translated sites for search engines, so when someone in your new market is looking for a product you offer, they find your translated website and not your competitors.

Weglot helps with your translated site’s SEO in three ways.

  1. All of your on-page SEO content is automatically translated. This includes metadata and alt tags. And like all the other content on your site, you can edit these translations if needed to better align with your SEO strategy.
  1. We automatically create subdomains/subdirectories for your translated sites. When you use Weglot, you’ll get unique URLs for each translated site. For example, weglot.com is our English site, while weglot.com/fr/ is our French site. If your translation tool doesn’t do it for you, then you need to set up your own subdomains/subdirectories. This can be a hassle, especially if you’re not used to handling server issues.
  1. We add code to your site that tells search engines you have translated sites. When you use Weglot, we add code (hreflang tags) to your site that tells Google that you have translated versions of your site available. This helps Google recommend your site to the right audience.

Getting Started With Weglot’s Free One-Month Trial

Weglot’s easy-to-use website translation software can translate your entire site within minutes. Weglot helps with your ecommerce localization by making sure your translated sites are optimized for search engines.

Weglot is the website translation industry leader on G2

Step 2: Localize Your Checkout Experience

Localizing your checkout experience is just as important as translating your site into your global audience’s own languages. If your checkout experience isn’t fully localized, more of your target audience will abandon their cart—even if they really do want to buy your product.

This could be because they don’t understand how expensive a product is, or because they can’t accurately fill out the required form fields.

Below, we cover:

  • Offering the right payment methods
  • Setting the right price
  • Localizing form fields

Offer the Right Payment Methods

An important part of your localization efforts is to make sure you’re offering the right payment options that are most popular in your respective foreign markets.

For example, in Germany, PayPal is a popular payment method for ecommerce sites. But the most popular method in Germany is the open invoice—where payment is issued after delivery. If you’re a US-based company, this is practically unheard of. But if you’re looking to grow in Germany, then it’s worth looking at how to adopt this option on your site.  

Meanwhile, in South Korea, the major merchants (Visa, AMEX, and Mastercard) are the most popular. Yet there are also dozens of other online businesses—some specific to South Korea—like BC Card and Lotte Card which are also very popular and could be worth having on your site to increase conversions.

Some resources to help you get started

Set the Right Price

If you do your ecommerce localization correctly, you won’t need your customer to do any work on their end to understand your product, service, or prices. This means making sure that your prices are updated to reflect the local currency.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce store based in France—a Eurozone country—then you’re going to want to convert your prices to dollars when localizing for the United States.

When someone from the US sees a price listed as €30, they’re not going to be completely confident with how much that is in their currency. This can lead to them abandoning their cart or opening a new tab to figure out the price, which is a less-than-ideal checkout practice.

Some resources to help you get started

Here are some links to help you localize your currency (based on popular ecommerce platforms/CMS tools):

If you’re not running your ecommerce on a platform with ready-made solutions for switching currency, then you can ask a developer to create one for your ecommerce store.

Localize Your Form Fields

The form field at the checkout is going to be different from country to country. And without the right address forms, users will quickly bounce off your site.

For example, if you’re a US-based ecommerce company expanding into the UK, then you need to have a form that UK users can fill out. In the US, telephone numbers follow this format: xxx-xxx-xxxx. But in the UK, they follow this format: xxx-xxxx-xxxx.

There are also huge variations in how countries handle their addresses. In Japan, for example, it’s more common that streets don’t have names. Instead, cities are organized into blocks.

Many of the leading ecommerce platforms will automatically switch up your address forms at checkout to match the country you’re shipping to. Weglot can translate all the text on your site, so you don’t have to worry about the language of your forms.

Step 3: Localize Your Brand Image and Marketing Materials

The next step of localization is making sure your brand image and marketing materials are tailored toward your audience.

This is something you should focus on after you’ve translated your site and localized your checkout experience (which are higher priority items).

But you also shouldn’t skip over this part—and remember it might be more important in some parts of the world than others. For example, there may be more cultural differences between the US and Japan than between the US and Canada.

When looking to localize your messaging and marketing materials, you want to focus on:

  • Visuals: Every ecommerce site relies heavily on visuals. If you stay neutral, you’re unlikely to make any major mistakes when localizing your site. But it’s still worth checking whether your images are effective in any new market.

The whole idea of localization is that your new customer doesn’t feel like your site is out of place or “foreign” at all—it should be tailored to them. It might be a matter of altering product shot backgrounds, or making sure models are representative of your target demographic in any given location.

  • Sales Trends and Holidays: Public holidays are different throughout the world, as are sales trends. If you’re an online mattress retailer in the US, you’re going to target uniquely American holidays—Presidents' Day, Labor Day, and 4th of July. But those don’t happen in other countries.

    Find out what holidays are celebrated in your new country—and just as important, make sure you’re targeting holidays that are associated with sales days in particular.
  • Values: Understanding the values of your new market will take a bit longer. But as just one example, people in some countries might put more emphasis on clothing retailers that are eco-friendly and sustainable while other countries or regions might put more emphasis on style and price.

Next Steps: Quickly Translate Your Site (And Go From There)

Above, we covered three steps to mastering ecommerce localization:

  1. Translating your website.
  2. Localizing your checkout experience (from the currency you display to the payments you take and the contact info your customers fill out).
  3. Localizing your branding and marketing strategies.

Some of these are more time-consuming than others. For example, marketing strategy localization involves design, copywriting, and branding projects. None of which are quick.

But the good news is that Weglot can help you get a fully-translated ecommerce site within minutes that’s optimized for local search engines.

Weglot is a fast and accurate website translation software that works with any website. It can translate your site’s native language into over 110 different languages.

Weglot uses two methods, which give you as much (or as little) hands-on involvement as you want.

  1. Neural machine translation: This is how Weglot can translate ecommerce sites so quickly and accurately. You add Weglot to your site, pick your site’s current language, tell Weglot what language you want for your site, and Weglot does the rest. You will have a fully translated ecommerce site that is live and ready to shop within minutes.
  2. Human translation: If needed, you can edit any of Weglot’s translations for your site. You can either edit these translations yourself or order professional translation services through your Weglot account.

Discover how simple Weglot is with our interactive demo, or see it live on your website with our 10-day trial.

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