eCommerce Localization Strategies: 5 Consumer Touchpoints to Localize

Consumers are rejecting expansion plans that make localization an afterthought. What is your current localization strategy?
eCommerce Localization Strategy Blog Post Image

The dramatic growth in e-commerce has compelled businesses to reassess their localization strategies. Power now lies in the hands of consumers, who expect personalized customer journeys that cater to their unique needs and preferences across various platforms.

“You may think of your products as self-explanatory, however, it may not be so for a person whose primary language is not the same as yours.”

Out of the world’s approximately 7.8 billion inhabitants, 1.35 billion speak English. In the United States alone, over 20% of residents communicate in a language other than English at home. Brands that restrict their marketing efforts to a single language, whether in domestic or international markets, may overlook a substantial opportunity to engage with prospective customers.

Introducing your product or service to global markets has its challenges. Besides legal and logistical barriers, cultural and communication difficulties can pose significant obstacles. Localization can help you steer clear of cultural misunderstandings because of poor translations that could harm your brand. By considering cultural subtleties and language preferences from the outset, you shorten the time required for potential customers to resonate with your product or service, thereby accelerating your business’s market penetration.

What is localization?

Localization, often abbreviated as l10n, is the practice of modifying a product or service to cater to the cultural, linguistic, legal, and other needs of a specific market.

“Localization is the lesser-known sister of customer experience.”

Risks of Not localizing

The perils of not implementing a localization strategy are significant. Companies that fail to localize risk missing out on opportunities to broaden their customer base, create new revenue channels, and may encounter legal and compliance issues. Accenture’s research indicates that this is a worldwide issue for numerous businesses, with 95% of executives stating that their customers’ localization expectations are evolving faster than they can adapt shopping experiences. According to Twilio, 62% of consumers will not become repeat customers if the experience is not personalized.

Localize Consumer Touchpoints

1. Website Localization

A website is a crucial consumer interaction point that serves as the cornerstone of your localization strategy. Consumers are more inclined to purchase from a website that communicates in their native language. 65% of consumers favor information in their language, even if the quality is subpar. Additionally, e-commerce websites that offer personalized experiences witness 10% to 15% higher conversion rates and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction rates.

However, launching a multilingual website isn’t merely about duplicating your original content word-for-word in a different language. It requires considering cultural variances, legal stipulations, buying behaviors, and payment methods, among other factors in a process as intricate as website localization.

2. Packaging Localization

A CSA Research report reveals that when customers are choosing between similar products, 66% of consumers opt for the item that provides information in their native language. Consequently, neglecting this aspect can have disastrous consequences for plans to expand into new markets. Packaging requirements vary by location, meaning that some products will require different text and language options depending on the country where they are sold. For instance, when businesses expand from the US to Canada, their websites and packaging must accommodate English and French translations.

Products marketed in the EU need a “CE mark” to show compliance with safety, health, and environmental regulations, regardless of manufacturing location. Technical documentation, including CE mark requirements, must be available in all official languages of the selling country. Automated translations may not suffice due to legal implications.

3. Product and User Manual Localization

Localizing such documents facilitates a more intuitive understanding of the product, as users can interact with the product in their native language and cultural context. This leads to an improved user experience and enhances user experience.

Subtle nuances lost in translation can lead to significant issues. For instance, a poorly translated manual may lead to user confusion, misuse of the product, or even safety risks. Moreover, it can also lead to customer dissatisfaction and damage the brand’s reputation in the target market.

4. Marketing Content and Communications Localization

Marketing language is particularly prone to misunderstandings due to the use of creative language elements (such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, cultural references, slang, etc.) that may not translate directly into the target language.

In such instances, a proficient translator is essential to maintain the language’s intent as much as possible, even if it means forgoing a literal translation in favor of a more culturally suitable alternative.

The goal is to offer personalized content and language nuances that make customers feel valued and motivated to do business with you. This approach fosters customer loyalty and shows that you are an integral part of their community.

5. Customer Support Localization

Providing multilingual help desk support in a consumer’s native language extends beyond financial incentives like discounts or loyalty programs. It is estimated that businesses lose up to $62 billion annually due to poor customer experiences. According to a CSA Research report, 75% of respondents said they were more likely to repurchase from a brand if the customer support was provided in their native language.

Effective communication is crucial when your customers are seeking assistance. Misunderstandings due to language barriers can worsen the customer’s issue, and the inability to communicate with ease is an added stressor. Excellent customer service converts 86% of first-time customers into long-term brand advocates.

Localize Global Brands

Localizing e-commerce customer experiences in multiple languages is essential for businesses that want to reach a global audience. It enables customers from different linguistic backgrounds to navigate the online store, understand product descriptions, and complete transactions effortlessly. This in turn, improves the user experience and fosters trust, increases the customer base, and gives businesses a competitive edge in markets where the primary language is not English.