The “Brailsford Approach” to Global eCommerce Growth Through Translations
The fate of British Cycling changed one day in 2003.
The organization, which was the governing body for professional cycling in Great Britain, had hired Dave Brailsford as its new performance director. At the time, professional cyclists in Great Britain had endured nearly one hundred years of utter mediocrity.
Brailsford and his coaches quickly began by making small adjustments you might expect from a professional cycling team. They redesigned the bike seats to make them more comfortable and rubbed alcohol on the tires for a better grip. They asked riders to wear electrically-heated overshorts to maintain ideal muscle temperature while riding, and used biofeedback sensors to monitor how each athlete responded to a particular workout. These small adjustments; 1 per cent at a time, had staggering results. Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available.
It’s easy to think that as you expand globally into eCommerce it’s only the big things you need to get right, such as localised regional marketing, local pricing, payments and varied delivery options for the locale. But if you want to truly win a market and optimise for the full opportunity then it’s the small changes and investments in the end to end you need to get right – and get right consistently.
Here below I highlight just three areas to get right that can make a huge difference to performance in Asia locales:
SEO Localisation is a Must
You may have translated your site effectively, kept it on brand, and localised key terms so they have the right impact with native local speakers, but not all locales search for the same terms in the same way. Indeed, not all locales use the same search engine. In undertaking translations without thinking of the SEO performance you might just be pushing your site to near invisibility.
SEO localisation is critical to the success of any localisation project you embark on. Your rankings can suffer if you don’t use the correct local target keywords. For instance, in the USA the search term might be ‘sneakers’, not ‘trainers’; or ‘suspenders’, not ‘braces’. And if the search engine suspects there is a duplication of content then the site can be severely penalised in the rankings. You also need to optimise for the right search engine – largely Google, but also Yandex for Russia and Baidu for China.
Working out whether to use a ccTLD, a subdirectory or a subdomain will be a strategic decision. But it is also key to understand and analyse the keywords you are targeting. This requires experience and research but once you get it right you’ll be optimised for the region.
Localised Ingredients Labelling is About Compliance
If you fail to comply with local legislation, your product will not just be delayed, but in some cases be ineligible for import. Japan, for example, has very strict controls on ingredient and allergen labelling and so effectively translating these in line with local regulations will mean that your product passes straight through without delay.
At Language Connect we carried out a major project for The Hut Group to translate a number of highly specialised texts containing ingredients and allergens from English into Japanese. They key here is that Compliance was the lead element here – not stylistic tone or creative.
Only with the Food Sanitation Act regulations fully met will the products move freely into the desired locale. Japanese regulations regarding the translation of food items are very strict, and using the wrong translation on the labels of the products could lead to legal repercussions and a blacklisting of your product. In some cases, it being impounded at the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare.
In fact, the sale of products containing unspecified additives can lead to a fine of 100 million Yen. Translations of ingredients labelling is a specialist exercise, so you need the right linguists who understand the regulations and can apply them. Through close collaboration with our clients, we created an efficient system for testing our linguist candidates before the project started. We also drafted accurate reference materials for the selected linguists to use, and refined our processes to further improve our reference materials as we complete the different batches of the project based on client feedback.
The result is products, correctly labelled, flowing into THG’s Japanese customers, and the Japanese import authorities having the confidence that, thanks to Language Connect’s translations, the standard is both compliant and effective.
Product Transit into Country: Customs
You may have good fulfillment arrangements to get your product to the discerning customer in a new locale, but how much delay are you experiencing to get the product in country? Customers are becoming more and more discerning on fulfillment time, and if your products fail to meet the exacting compliance standards of the locale you are importing into, you can suffer significant delays.
Language Connect have translated a large volume of product import labels from English to Chinese The project involved our standard translation process (trans+proof+QA) overlaid with compliance considerations in order to satisfy Chinese customs regulations. Changes and edits were often required and our linguists were fully committed and worked conscientiously. The result is a reduction in fulfilment time into China ranging from 2-4 days, meaning, along with a local 3PL logistics facility in Singapore, we can now fulfil into China within 2 days – previously unheard of for UK based retail businesses.
It is this attention to detail, similar to the Brailsford Approach in working closely with Language Connect that has enabled The Hut Group to reach a 70% international sales mix – beating the competition one small adjustment at a time. Language Connect are further specialising into the end-to-end consumer retail space, leveraging our unique experience of working alongside some of the biggest online brands winning in the digital space.