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Globalising your ecommerce business with website translation

A woman shopping online via her laptop
in Retail and Ecommerce

Here is a curious fact you may not be aware of: 21 per cent of the world’s internet users are based in China and, somewhat unsurprisingly, they browse the web in their native tongue.

This kind of detail is useful to know, especially for those working in ecommerce and retail. If you can’t reach these consumers, then ultimately, you’re going to struggle to have a truly global reach.

Moreover, as research from OC&C and Google has shown, if brands are keen to open themselves up to the rest of the world, they will need to ensure their website is accessible in at least 13 languages. That will give you around 90 per cent of the world’s online audience, worth an impressive $39.7 billion (approximately £26 billion).

Invariably then, if you’re looking to be more visible, you have to ensure your business is more receptive to international audiences. Translating your website is vital for this because, when the time comes to refocus your growth plans, you can be confident that your site – today the first port of call for prospective customers/clients – is very accessible.

Thinking in a truly global way

In its influential Web Globalisation Report, Byte Level Research states that having proper a global reach is one of the key features of a high performing international website. The likes of Google,, Facebook and Cisco Systems, for example, have been found to support as many as 50 languages.

Now, that is not to say your website needs to be translated into as many languages as that, but certainly, it goes without saying, the more, the better. Start by factoring in which markets you want reach early on, as well as those you wish to expand into. Implementation should be paced to ensure you’re able to make subtle changes as and when required.

Understanding new audiences

Now that you’ve chosen your target markets, the focus shifts on developing a better understanding of them. Translation isn’t as simple as taking what is on your website and adapting it, word for word, into another language. This is far too simplistic: meeting their needs is a much more complex endeavour.

There is, after all, a lot more to think about than the actual content. Is your website optimised for different markets, for example? In China, there is a preference for densely-packed text and bold colours, while in the western world, clean, streamlined layouts are de rigueur. These subtle differences can make a massive difference in how prospective audiences will respond to your website.

Providing total access

When it comes to the actual process of translating your website, you have to look further, to companies that specialise in this area. While you may know what languages you want and what content needs to be translated, the process of modifying the text goes a lot deeper. It is far more technical.

As such, one of the things a language services provider needs access to is all of the pages that make up your website. It is not just about modifying the content that a customer reads when they land on one of your pages, but also the “invisible” text that underpins it.

For example, while you can successfully interpret the glossary of your main website content for a particular audience, you can miss hidden and very important text like meta titles and meta tags. This can compromise the integrity of the translation and have a negative impact on your search engine results in new markets.

Internationalising your business

You have to think global as an ecommerce business. While you may well target customers/clients in your home country from the outset, if you are keen to develop your business, you have to look abroad.

If you do your homework though, there are plenty of opportunities to seize and benefit from. This, in turn, impacts not just on your bottom line but also on your culture, your products/services and even your processes. Website translation, while very practical, will also go a long way in changing the way you think about your business and your customers.

Language Connect delivers fast, accurate language translation services 24 hours a day