Smart Translation Strategies for E-Commerce

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries in Europe with a turnover of 534 billion Euros in 2017. For online shops, expanding into new markets is fairly easy – at least compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. You only really need a website and you are good to go.


75% of global consumers prefer to buy products online in their native language. (Common Sense Advisory)


However, customers in many European countries still buy predominantly from their local stores, for example 60% of French online shoppers only buy from French stores. The most important reason for this is language – a localized website is one of the most important aspects contributing to the success of an e-commerce business in foreign markets. According to Common Sense Advisory, 75% of global consumers prefer to buy products online in their native language. Translating your web store content seems essential, but many store owners baulk at the initial investment needed to translate their shop into multiple languages.

Let’s consider a typical web store scenario. Each product usually consists of three distinct text types: product names, several USPs and product descriptions. On average each product has around 150 words to translate. If you have 300 products in your shop and want to translate it into 5 languages, the total cost can exceed EUR 20,000.


Focus on those elements of your e-commerce site that have the greatest impact on your sales!


If you analyze the text in greater detail, you can observe that for each product, the longest chunk of text to translate is the description and the shortest is the product name. In other words, the most important part of the product (i.e. the name) is the shortest, and the least important (i.e. the description) is the longest, while the USPs fall somewhere in between. It would make sense that you dedicate the most attention (and resources) to the product names, because they are used in search results and can be relevant for your SEO scores. Compared to names, product descriptions are less important and can be translated with a more affordable workflow.

By choosing an affordable translation workflow (i.e. MT+light human editing) for descriptions, you can choose a more expensive workflow for names (i.e. translation+revision+proofreading) to really make sure that the translations are not only correct but adapted to the target market, while still save a considerable amount on product descriptions.


Machine translation – in combination with human editing – can help you save money and direct it to where high quality matters most!


Additionally, you can study your web shop analytics to see what influences the visitors to buy your products. Are they reading the entire description before making the purchase? Or are they primarily interested in price? If so, you can safely choose a more affordable translation workflow. Moreover, if you are unsure on what to do, you can set up A/B tests to see whether language quality affects buying decisions.


Want to see savings from an actual e-commerce localization project?


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