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Top tips for localising websites to new markets in ecommerce

Top tips for localising websites to new markets in ecommerce [Photo: Anchiy via iStock]
in Retail and Ecommerce

Localising websites is an important part of the process of running an ecommerce site. Now more than ever before, people from all over the world are investing time and money in shopping on websites of companies from overseas. 
 
For example, 59 per cent of online shoppers from China, according to a report from the Telegraph, will typically shop for clothes, shoes, accessories and other items on websites of UK companies, while 57 per cent will shop on British websites for health and beauty products. The Far East is an important market for British firms to grip onto, especially with the report stating that a quarter of all British exports go to China alone. 
 
With this in mind, British ecommerce companies, particularly small ones looking to get ahead of the market, should be looking at ways they can expand their businesses away from their own shores. One way to do this is to look at a strategy for localising and translating content and websites in a way that allows them to be more accessible and functional for people in other countries. Embarking on a project of localisation means that those from overseas can shop in languages and on websites that are more in line with what they are used to, meaning they are more likely to come back time and again and shop with firms that have gone the extra mile for them. 
 
So, what are the top tips for localising an ecommerce brand? Here, we take a look at just a few. 
 
Get to know the market
 
How can you be expected to branch out into any new market if you've yet to learn about what already exists there? Chances are those companies that are already operating in your new target market, particularly those who have been there from the inception of their business, know what they're doing, so a little research will go a long way.
 
Spending some time scouring the websites of native companies can allow you a good bit of insight into what they do well. For example, are they mostly offering a mobile-friendly shopping experience, or are they asking their shoppers to make their way through a traditional website? What's the user journey like, and how does a potential customer convert?
 
Asking yourself these questions as you look through a website of a company that's been there and done it will go a long way to making sure your attempts at localisation are as successful as they can possibly be. 
 
Marketing research 
 

If you have your website working well back home and attracting customers through its marketing and SEO campaigns, then there's little point in trying to do the same overseas without putting some serious thought into it. The internet may be global, but your approach to SEO is not automatically the same off the bat. 
 
Spend some time in your target country looking into things like popular keywords, how they are presented to customers, how they are used and the ways in which they bring people onto site. And take some more time to peruse local social media outlets, especially in countries like China where Weibo and similar sites are infinitely more popular than the likes of Facebook. If you know where people are and how to reach them, after all, you greatly increase your chances of success. 
 
Translate well
 
Perhaps the most important of any localisation project is making sure that all content on your website has been migrated over by someone who is fluent in both the origin and target languages in order to ensure the language that makes its way onto your new site is as natural and flowing as it is on the original page. 

After all, it's vital that any new customer not only loves your products, but that they also trust and respect your brand enough to be buying things from you and giving you their money. At the end of the day, content which is badly translated and doesn't make sense will turn anyone away, so make sure that before you set off looking for a new market in a new country, you spend some time and money investing in effective translation that can really make a difference.



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