Global ecommerce sales grew by 16.8 percent last year, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This year, global ecommerce sales are expected to total $5.5 trillion worldwide and continue growing over the next few years, proving that ecommerce is becoming an increasingly lucrative option for businesses.
Localization: the key to maximize your ecommerce sales potential
One of the most important aspects of going global with your online store (besides shipping, payment options and the like) is localization. We all prefer to buy online when the site is in our preferred language - in fact, over 70% of buyers prefer to use websites in their native tongue. The French like to read French and the Japanese are generally not very fluent in German. You get the point.
Having localized product pages and related information, including reviews, further expands your potential sales opportunities, reaching a wider customer base without the investment of setting up physical branches and local teams on each market around the world.
Interestingly, global ecommerce is also increasingly attactive for smaller businesses. One of those then 'unusual' success stories was Stadium Goods, a boutique sports retailer based in New York, that saw its biggest sales spike on 11 November – China’s ‘Singles Day’.
So how do you go about localizing your ecommerce site?
A quality ecommerce translation gets very expensive when you have a thick product catalogue. Assuming a translation cost of EUR 0.20 per word and an average of 125 words per individual product, translating a single product into 25 languages would cost over EUR 600. Based on these assumptions, translating a 200,000 products catalogue (not an unusual number for most ecommerce sites) would cost 120 million euros. Of course, that's not realistic.
So what’s the alternative? Pass everything through a neural machine translation (NMT) engine? How would it impact your brand voice and sales?
It seems that neither alternative is the right strategy for localizing ecommerce product catalogues. We need something smarter.
A smart strategy for global ecommerce
We propose a novel strategy for localizing ecommerce. It's the middle ground between a fully machine-translated product catalogue and an optimal translation, edited by linguists.
In most cases, however, businesses usually start with machine translation that provides reasonable output at minimal cost, allowing them to establish a commercial presence.
What if we could identify the products that are the best candidates for optimal translation? What if we could quantify the expected additional margin when a product is optimally translated? We would then be able to focus our translation efforts on products that deliver the most business value.
The good news is: we can identify the best product candidates for optimal translation. We do that by estimating the additional margin generated by an optimally translated product: the potential translation value. The potential translation value of a product is the additional margin of that product after producing an optimal translation. We use readily available analytics data, product margin figures and translation costs to calculate this value.
Using the potential translation value, a local ecommerce manager has all the tools needed to optimize ecommerce conversion rates while managing the budget. This is a whole lot smarter than the all-or-nothing approaches.
Other factors may play a role in deciding whether a particular product page is worth translating. It may be that the product is just not popular in the specific geographical area, which could also explain the lower buy-to-detail rate. Or you may be about to launch a campaign for this product, and then the expected increase in page views (and brand exposure) may well justify an optimal translation.
If you've considered all the tips above and are now thinking of how you can apply this to your business, you're in the right place! Acolad offers tailored solutions for smarter ecommerce localization and we're constantly looking for ways to maximize our client translation budget.
Do you want to reach new markets with your ecommerce business?
Our ecommerce localization experts are here for you, contact us!