It has now been long established that e-commerce is a great alternative for both, complementing your sales via the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores as well as functioning as a standalone sales channel. The presence of robust e-commerce store increases the availability of products and services and enables access to a tool for improved customer service and personalization. Well does it all stop here? Seemingly not.
Taking the cue from the information here, e-commerce sales are expected to grow at an explosive rate. The major contributor to this explosive growth in e-commerce sales is the increase in both domestic and international sales. One of the biggest advantages of e-commerce store is its ability go beyond the geographical boundaries of your physical location.
However, with geographical boundaries becoming irrelevant, the dangers of an imminent disconnect between your e-commerce store and a user elsewhere also looms large. Then how and where can businesses attempt to strike a balance? – LOCALIZATION
What does E-commerce localization exactly mean? What constitutes it?
E-commerce localization essentially means having to translate the online profile of your brand and all its digital assets like blogs, product descriptions, images, promotions, etc. into the language and CONTEXT of its target customers.
Now, there is a reason why “CONTEXT” has been emphasized – it is to underline that localization is much more than just the language. The visitors process the information presented to them in their context that includes their location, cultural sensitivities, and practices. Hence, it is important to ensure you customize both your products and messaging to their context.
Broadly, e-commerce localization includes
- Displaying products relevant to their context,
- Adaptation of content (text, categories, images, graphics, video and more) in their language,
- Weights and measures in a scale they understand,
- Allowing users to pay using their preferred payment method, even in their local currency,
- Displaying appropriate exchange rate and tax information as applicable,
- E-commerce site search
- Revisiting your message and packaging
- Translate your customer reviews and comments
- In some cases even re-visiting a completely different business model,
- Search engine optimization efforts,
- Tweaking offers, promotions, coupons, etc. to cater to the local audience,
- Keeping track of local events and aligning your marketing activities to prevent losing out on potential sales opportunities,
- Tweaking the channels you use to target the audience and the communication, and more
Benefits of E-commerce localization
- Competitive Advantage – Localization can give you a significant competitive edge (and in some cases take the competitive edge away from your competitors). With localization, your brand stands to get a lot more visibility that could translate to more sales and revenue.
- Increase Sales – According to a report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites” published by Common Sense Advisory in 2014, there is a strong correlation between buying decisions and language online. Sometimes consumers are just more comfortable purchasing from websites in their local language.
- Improved ROI for your Marketing Efforts – With targeted promotions that take advantage of the local practices and traditions your e-commerce store is geared to realize a much better ROI.
Important steps you can take for E-commerce localization success
In an article here, Gagan Mehra, shares five keys to building a global e-commerce site.
- Define the level of localization – Localization can be a time and resource intensive exercise. Analyze your industry and competition, look at your budgets and then decide the level to which you would want to localize your e-commerce store.
- Define a process and make it mandatory – Once you determine the level of localization, it is important to establish a process and make it mandatory. Do not let anyone bypass the process for any reason (like we are in a rush because of the holiday season, etc.) because this can hurt your business in the long run.
- Hire a local to review – This is the most important part of localization. Language translation is a tricky business and can backfire if not done right. It is very important to have a local review your store to ensure that you are getting your messaging absolutely right. The classic example of localization gone wrong is where Pepsi’s slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” was translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. While this is an extreme example, possible but extreme, they can also help you address issues like placing the Euro symbol before the figures when the local convention is placing it after the figure.
- Localize customer service – Go beyond your e-commerce store localize your customer service. Customer service is a critical aspect of e-commerce and localizing your customer service can talk about your focus on the local market.
- Review and monitor periodically – Nothing is complete without this. Localization can be a difficult exercise and it is important to continually monitor your efforts, measure its impact, and make appropriate changes when required.
The ability to understand the needs, expectations and the context of the local customers is very important when you are eyeing international expansion. The success of your e-commerce business relies on the personalization of user experience across locations. For this, your e-commerce store must adapt to the visitor and communicate in a language they understand.
The right research can give you insights into local trends and conventions and A/B testing can help you identify what best works for your business. Remember, a similar market is a myth they do not exist. Keep your localization efforts, constantly monitor for changes or deviations through analytics and repeat the exercise.
It is not globalization, it is not localization, it is glocalization.