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Continued growth in overseas operations increases need for translation services

Continued growth in overseas operations increases need for translation services [Photo: iStock/LDProd]
in Retail and Ecommerce

Language Connect has been named among the top-performing small and medium enterprises in the UK in the latest Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100, ranking among the top 100 companies for international export growth for the first time. 

This was a result of strong growth in activities in other markets across the globe, and Language Connect came in at 53rd overall in the table, with international sales having increased by 55 per cent in the space of just two years. 

However, the report also showed a wider trend of international operations for UK SMEs, particularly in certain sectors, that highlights the need for expert translation services. Whenever companies are operating overseas, be it B2C or B2B, it's important that nothing is ever lost in translation through important stages like contracts and sales, which is why companies need to deal with translators who know the ins and outs of both sectors and language. 

Britain's SMEs and international growth

Over the last year, more companies from the UK are operating in international markets, according to the data, with the result of the Brexit referendum seemingly having had little in the way of negative impact on their business. 

According to the findings, as many as 70 per cent of those surveyed said that it had not impacted them negatively, compared to just 17 per cent who said it had. 

This showed in the way companies are changing their focus as well, with the study showing that the number looking towards Europe as a place to start and expand their globalisation processes has grown in the last few years. Of the top 100, 85 now focus on European nations to find customers, a number that has risen from 80 last year. 

And highlighting the global nature of the UK's business sector at the moment, the study also shows that as many as 77 of the companies target North America, and 37 look to move into Asian markets, showing the scale of globalisation currently taking place from the UK. 

Of course, this means that many of the companies in the top 100 SMEs in the UK are operating in more than one market. As well as the UK, some will be operating in continental Europe, across the Atlantic in North America and in Asia, all simultaneously.

This highlights the need for a consistent and coherent strategy of translation for smaller firms. It's vital that when dealing with consumer facing materials – for example in the ecommerce sector – that companies have a brand value and style that transfers between markets. But it's also important that they tailor websites and content to the customers in certain countries and certain languages so that they can understand the site and are not alienated by its layout or style. 

Ecommerce growth overseas

One of the biggest growth markets for SMEs trading internationally at present is ecommerce, with the report showing that it is those companies selling consumer goods who are exporting their businesses to international markets more than any others.

It found that of the top 100 in terms of international sales, 23 were dealing in consumer goods, putting this sector ahead of the likes of engineering, where 15 companies ranked in the top 100. 

 Ian Wilson of DHL Express even said that in the months after the decision to leave the EU was made last year, there was a surge of 30 per cent in international exported goods from British SME online retailers. This shows just how strong this particular market is at the moment, and how it could continue to grow for some time, even amidst political upheaval.  

But of course, while there is positivity there for the ecommerce market, it's important that anyone making the step overseas is doing so in the right way and making sure they have taken the time localise their website and make it functional and attractive for buyers in their new target markets. 

Mr Wilson says that language without putting brand values at risk is an important consideration, and an area where translators can make a real difference. With industry awareness and knowledge of the target language, an expert translator can help to modify content to meet the needs of a new customer, but all without jeopardising the brand's integrity and identity, which can be priceless when introducing a brand to an all new marketplace. 

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