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The importance of effective translation for ecommerce websites

The importance of effective translation for ecommerce websites
in Retail and Ecommerce

The ecommerce market is undoubtedly the biggest phenomenon to emerge from the connected age. Success of online businesses such as Amazon and Alibaba, and the sharp growth in online spend in recent years, has meant more companies than ever before are taking the process of selling their goods online.

By the end of 2015, according to a recent report published by eMarketer, annual sales for online retailers are expected to reach as much as $1.67 trillion (£1.1 trillion) worldwide. This will account for 7.3 per cent of all retail sales across the world ($22.82 trillion), which shows just how powerful ecommerce is in the modern connected world.

And it’s not just the current state of the market that is bringing more companies to the conclusion that online retail is the future. The fact that eMarketer predicts ecommerce sales will double in the next four years, accounting for 12.4 per cent of all money spent in retail by the end of 2019, indicates the future potential of having a successful online presence, and how this can help companies become truly global brands.

Regionalisation of ecommerce

In becoming global ecommerce brands, one of the primary issues companies need to broach is how they can branch out into new markets. The internet breaks down geographical barriers and borders, and allows firms to connect with customers in ways they never could before, which brings with it an all new opportunity for growth.

For example, in chasing the markets with most potential, companies need to expand their focus, moving away from the western powerhouses. While western Europe and North America are currently the biggest spending regions online by far, they are not the fastest growing markets, and it’s these regions that present companies with the highest prospects for increasing sales.

In the Asia-Pacific market, online sales for 2015 are set to top $875 billion, with the 35.2 per cent annual growth this represents being the main driver behind a global 25 per cent year-on-year increase in money spent online.

The region is expected to have gained a staggering 80 million new online shoppers this year when compared to 2014, highlighting just how quickly the target audience in this region expands with each passing year.

eMarketer believes that the biggest potential markets for companies to exploit in a bid to go global are those where there is less availability of certain products, which drives online sales as people increasingly seek out items like mobile phones and tablet computers they can’t find in their own towns and cities.

It is this increasingly connected consumer that companies can tap into if they don’t want to miss out on a rapidly growing online audience.

The importance of translation in ecommerce

Of course, exploring relatively untried markets in a bid to build a global brand can present some major challenges for companies, chief among which are the language barriers that can exist. For westernised countries where English is not only the most common first language, but also the most widely spread second tongue, it’s easy to forget that not everyone can speak English.

In fact, according to data from Internet World Stats, in 2015, only 26 per cent of the world’s internet population do speak English, despite it being the most common online language. That means that for companies looking to go global, almost three-quarters of prospective customers are potentially untapped if their website is not effectively translated.

The sheer range of languages spoken online also highlights the need for companies to make sure their websites are effectively translated. According to the data, the top ten most widely spoken languages on the internet account for three-quarters of the total number of online users.

This means companies have 2.5 billion potential customers spread across ten languages, and choosing the right ones to use on site can make a big difference. It’s a huge audience to reach out to, but one that can only be effectively reached with quality online translation.

Providing a website that is properly translated and optimised for each language means welcoming customers on site and giving them a pleasant experience that encourages them to not only convert themselves, but also to return as customers in the future and even act as brand advocates.

And it’s not just the language of the main site that needs to be translated well. Ensuring that sites have well optimised and regularly updated engaging content specific to each language, that all product descriptions and prices are translated and converted correctly and even that functional buttons such as “add to basket” and “checkout” are specific to each language’s site will help to keep customers satisfied and not turn them away from the brand as a whole.

Getting these issues right can be time consuming for firms, but it’s those who do it right, as well as giving customers an extensive and well researched range of languages to choose from, that give themselves the longest potential reach and the highest prospects for growing their brands on a truly global scale.


Ecommerce represents one of the biggest global opportunities for companies to grow themselves into successful brands in relatively short amounts of time, but success relies on knowing the market as a whole and adapting to attract the widest volume of new business possible.

There’s no better way to do this than to tap into the rapidly growing customer bases that exist across the world, and those companies that take the time and effort to effectively localise and expertly translate their ecommerce websites to cater to a range of markets worldwide will be the ones that give themselves the greatest chance of uncovering the secret to success.

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