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5 ways to make your ecommerce website more globally effective

A team working at a desk
in Retail and Ecommerce

Transforming your ecommerce website into a well-optimised, visible and globalised platform is obligatory if, as an enterprise, you are keen to make your business an international force.

In this piece, we look at five ways you can make this happen. Think of the process as akin to a refurbishment – the core of what you have stays the same but everything else benefits from a nice revamp. The end result is something that is highly effective.

1. Targeting your content

At a base level, most if not all of your static content can easily be translated across all your markets (from content that is originally produced in your primary language). This should be fairly straightforward, as best practice states that such text should be composed in a simple, neutral and easily translatable manner.

However, with other content, such as country-specific news updates and marketing campaigns, the translation needs to be bespoke and unique to the target audience. This needn’t be duplicated if the relevance is lost on other demographics. Think of all your websites as distinct, as if they are satellites circling your main website.

2. Make language visible

For the most part, you want your customers to land on a certain page on your website that is in their native language. However, on occasion, they may end up on a foreign version (i.e. an English user lands on an Italian website). In such an instance, they need to be able to quickly and easily access the version that is in their primary language.

Most websites that have them, position language options at the top right of the page and accordingly this has become something of a standard. It can be made visible in multiple ways: through a national flag symbol, the name of a country or through a combination of both. It’s advisable to use the language in its local format, so, for example, Español for Spanish on a website that originates in the UK.

3. Adopting URL strategies

At a more technical level, there are further elements to consider, such as the URL structure of your website. Your main aim here is to successfully geotarget aspects of your website to your markets so that they receive the most relevant content with little effort.

This is possible through country specific URL structures ( for the UK and .in for India); and subdomains (.com/de for Germany and .com/fr for France). The latter is advantageous because it is easy to set up and is low maintenance. The qualities of the former are the fact the geotargeting clearly highlights the source of a website, making server location redundant.

4. Implementing the right style

If you’re really going to invest in a multilingual website, you have to go further than translating just the content. The visual element also has to be modified to fit in with the style sensibilities of your target market and the particular features that are unique to a certain language and culture.

For example, the direction of the text needs to be right to left for certain languages (Arabic and Urdu); font sizes need to be adapted (Chinese and Japanese text needs to be larger than English text); and colour schemes needs to be considered (particular bold colours are interpreted in different ways across the world).

5. Appreciating cultural differences

Failure to consider cultural differences between your target markets when designing your website is a huge mistake. As any professional language provider will point out, if you don’t get the voice of your audience right – or carry out an extremely simplified translation – you'll lack authority. Transcreation and localisation solves this problem.

Your website needs to be tailored so that your core message is adapted in the source language in such a way that it delivers the same impact it would in the target language. This approach is always going to result in better engagement because not only is it relevant, it demonstrates a certain level of awareness.

Take onboard the above and your ecommerce website will be in good shape to compete effectively on the global stage. Beyond getting the foundations of your platform right, the challenge is to maintain quality and consistency across the board. Maintain this level of professionalism and you’re sure to reach more people than ever before.

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