How to localize your eCommerce listings in a way that sells

eCommerce localization is a complicated process that entails much more than just finding the right word in a dictionary. It may demand a much broader understanding of the culture, along with a strong knowledge of the niche the eCommerce operates in. This requires proficiency in brands, categories, conversion tables and a host of other aspects.

Let’s look at the things you need to take into account when localizing your eCommerce listings to increase your sales.

Why localize in the first place?

Localization is absolutely imperative if you’re considering expanding your eCommerce overseas. With the rise of more global eCommerce sites, the issue of international language awareness is gradually becoming more pertinent. Unfortunately, you can’t simply rely on an English copy of your site anymore and expect a sizable market share. It matters greatly to know how the customer speaks in these remote locations.

According to a report published by eMarketer, the international eCommerce industry will see a 20.7% growth in the current year. It is projected that the market will reach $3.535 trillion. The same report indicates that by 2021, eCommerce should reach the $5 trillion mark. This type of retail is experiencing significant growth, and it’s expected that this trend will be sustained for the years to come.

More importantly, the now-famous “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” study, published by CSA Research, has made it clear how disengaged non-English speakers are with marketplaces that do not in feature their native languages. Here are some essential takeaways from the study:

  • Approximately 70% of consumers browse sites in their native languages.
  • Well over 70% of consumers indicate they choose to buy products advertised in their native language, almost 100% of the time.
  • Over half of the respondents care more about the language the product is advertised in than about the price of the product.

That is why it is a good idea to find an expert in your area for your foreign language matters. Localization is a fairly lengthy process and demands considerable effort, investment and meticulous care. Proper localization is an industry standard in the global business ecosystem.

Localization over translation

To illustrate the difference between translation and localization, if you translate “low cost” to Italian, you’ll end up with “a basso costo.” Let’s say you have a travel blog, and you’re trying to advertise or sell inexpensive flights to an Italian audience.

Optimizing your content by including a few iterations of “voli (flights) a basso costo,” you’ll end up losing a considerable amount of traffic and engagement from your target audience. The reason? While the above syntagm is grammatically correct, Italians don’t Google low-cost flights by searching for “voli a basso costo,” but rather “voli low cost.”

The same can be said about the listings on your website. Sometimes, we’re just dissuaded from purchasing products that are worded unnaturally.

Tip 1: Think like a buyer, not a dictionary

As we mentioned previously, there is an essential difference between localization and translation — the canons they follow. Translation is a process that is somewhat preoccupied with satisfying linguistic standards, whereas localization is more focused on the speakers, their culture, and their habits. When localizing names and descriptions for your eCommerce listings, think about what the buyer would find appealing.

If you’re localizing a product description that has a set of unusual features, focus on the things that you’d like you your buyers to notice. Yet, at the same time, don’t forget that it’s imperative to make your product’s value clear.

Tip 2: Take SEO into account

While many countries around the globe share languages, they still refer to them differently. For instance, while Germans and Austrians speak the same language, the way they look for the same products differs considerably.

When localizing product names, keep your eye on keyword density in both countries, it may reveal the ways the citizens of different nations refer to the same product.

Studies published in the Harvard Business Review, for example, clearly indicate that localized content is superior to generic material because it feels much more personal and appropriate. It can connect to the customer or reader at a much deeper level.

This is something search engines value a lot. To some extent, this is a search engine’s goal — provide the user with high-quality content or products that they’ll meaningfully engage with. If your product names are appealing to your potential customers, the search engine will typically rank higher in search results. As a result, this will lead to greater exposure and visibility.

Tip 3: Take measurement systems into account

Different countries measure things differently. Neighboring countries that speak the same language can often use different measurement units. The US and Canada are a notable example.

When it comes to clothing, localization demands extra care. For example, if your eCommerce focuses on clothing or shoes, besides localizing the interfaces and the copy, you’ll also have to localize a broad spectrum of various measurements, which can often be a daunting, but essential task. What’s considered Size 12 in the United States, may end up being a Size 11 in Mexico, and Size 46 Europe.

Tip 4: Localized messaging and advertising

Your banners and pop-ups that advertise your products should also take cultural norms, pop culture references and idioms into account.

Besides banners, there are also chatbots — a technology that has become very popular with eCommerce platforms and other businesses.

Chatbot interaction can also be localized to a great extent, which will have a considerable impact on the customer experience, and arguably, their engagement with the platform.

By providing a chatbot with the right tone and vocabulary, you’ll be able to humanize it and ensure that your target audience will find it pleasing. A chatbot can take advantage of the lexical peculiarities of a region or country: Texas vs. New York, or Paris vs. Quebec. Similarly, it can tap into the lexical characteristics of a particular age group in a particular part of the world.

Tip 5: Keep an eye on sales and returns

The period after you’ve added the localized version of the listings to the site, there’ll still be a period of calibration and testing. To assess the quality of your localization, keep an eye on the number of sales, and returns immediately after those changes are introduced to the site. Chances are that poorly-localized products can mislead customers and cause them to return their orders — keep an eye on those.

Darryl Adeyemi, localization specialist at Is Accurate and Pick The Writer, says to “Allow your customers to signal that there was a discrepancy between the listing and the actual product that has been delivered. Let them know that you’re working on making your service better for them. Enable them to make improvements and leave feedback when possible.”

Kristin Savage
Kristin Savage is pursuing a degree in creative writing and is gaining experience in the publishing industry with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors.


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