Traditional retail and digital commerce are merging more and more. While physical brick-and-mortar stores are turning to ecommerce to expand their reach, established online stores are looking to build a local presence by opening physical branches.
With the increasing relevance of ecommerce as a business model, there are many products and services related that aim to simplify processes for online store managers and consumers in various ways. On offer are time-saving content solutions that enable you to build a website at lightning speed, simplify payment processes and put logistics in place.
While these are all critical elements to launching and running an ecommerce business, one factor that can't be overlooked is translation. Making sure you have the necessary technology and processes in place to communicate your products in your target markets is every bit as relevant for retail and ecommerce managers as any of the above.
Is in-house translation the answer for retail localization?
At the beginning of their expansion to the international market, many businesses initially translate their printed materials. Presentation materials and brochures are generally the first to be translated, and websites eventually need to be localized as well.
It's not unusual for a business to attempt to resolve its initial translation needs by translating materials in-house. This often happens with the assistance of multilingual employees and distributors in the countries where the products are marketed. This is a common practice, and up to a certain level and volume, it can work tolerably well.
However, more mature companies sometimes also attempt to translate their materials in-house, despite the difficulties and obstacles they encounter along the way. What are the disadvantages of trying to keep all this localization work in-house?
Disadvantages of handling your ecommerce translations in-house
- Lack of structure for organizing the content produced in the various languages. Files might be spread out at the different local offices and lack coordination.
- The employees who translate in-house may work in different file formats and generally do not utilize translation tools, which means achieving consistency in terms of style and terminology is problematic. When it is time for the texts to be updated later, the process generally has to start from scratch since the previous translations have not been stored in a translation memory.
- A global content partner engages reliable and professional translators who only translate to their native language — an important aspect that's generally difficult for a business to live up to that utilizes its own employees for its translation needs.
- Even if the company’s employees translate into their native language, they are generally not trained writers or translators with industry-specific expertise; rather, these employees generally work in a completely different area.
- Another issue is that it usually takes a layperson much longer to translate a text than it does for a professional translator. And as we all know, time is money. Even if companies feel like there is no extra expense involved when translations are performed in-house, this is not the case since the time spent by an employee on translations is not free of charge.
Why outsource ecommerce translation?
Language and content providers have the resources available to engage multiple translators, speed up the process, and reduce time-to-market for their clients. All of this can make a major difference in sales since a website can potentially be launched several months earlier, for example.
Many businesses are pleasantly surprised to learn how a translation provider uses translation tools to recycle any recurring segments in the material and to achieve consistency in the style and terminology of the translated material, even when the translations are performed at different points in time, by different translators and to and from different languages.
Each customer of a translation agency has one translation memory per language pair. This working method greatly facilitates terminology management, which is otherwise frequently cited as a problematic issue by companies that translate their texts in-house. As long as the customer is available to answer questions regarding unfamiliar company-specific terms and designations, a professional translator can cope with material from most companies, regardless of their operations.
Approved terms can be entered into a termbase containing as many languages as necessary, thus enabling professional terminology management and uniform and consistent translations.
As is the case in most businesses, the longer the cooperation, the greater the opportunities to provide truly great service — in this case, translations.
All companies today need to communicate their brand consistently, regardless of the channel or language used. Translation and localization are just the most important strategies we have at our disposal to achieve just that.
Surveys show that visitors to websites written in the local language tend to trust those sites more and stay on them longer, and are consequently more inclined to purchase items through them.
Make sure you convey your message consistently and professionally — in all of the languages, in all of your markets.