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The importance of effective translation for ecommerce websites

The importance of effective translation for ecommerce websites
in Blog, 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. 

According to figures published August 2019 by Statista, global sales for online retailers are expected to reach as much as US$6.54trillion by 2023. This will account for 20% of retail sales worldwide, demonstrating the power of ecommerce in the modern connected world.  

The growth of ecommerce has also been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with total online spend in May 2020 reaching US$82.5 billion. This 77% year-on-year increase is said to have demonstrated figures that would have been predicted in 4-6 years’ time. As shops re-open, consumers will return to physical shopping, yet we can assume that the pandemic will have impacted the habits of customers around the world and an increasing tendency to turn to ecommerce will continue to accelerate the growth of the industry. 

Regionalisation of ecommerce

In becoming a global ecommerce brand, 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 the 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 alone, online sales for 2020 are set to top US$1.3trillion – a 22.3% increase year-on-year in money spent online, and almost double what was spent just three years ago. By 2024, this figure is expected to reach almost US$2trillion. 

The region is expected to have gained a staggering 194 million new online shoppers this year when compared to 2019, highlighting just how quickly the target audience in this region expands with each passing year. 

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, 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 welloptimised 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 timeconsuming for firms, but it’s those who do it right, as well as giving customers an extensive and wellresearched 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 develop themselves into successful brands in a relatively short amount 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 ever-growing customer bases that exist across the world; 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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