Localization isn’t just for the home page of an e-commerce site; it’s also not just for language. Localization produces a level of understanding and familiarity for the site’s users that goes beyond words by taking a holistic approach.
Here’s a quick rundown of how and why certain components of an e-commerce firm are localized. While they differ in nature, they all have one thing in common: adjusting the material for a local market ensures that the localized versions have the same effect and meaning as the original version.
1. Descriptions of products
It’s more difficult to localize e-commerce product descriptions than it is to just translate text. Sizes must be converted into the local sizing system for garments, for example. It’s possible that the product name will need to be localized as well, especially if it represents the item’s intended usage. Even the product itself could be replaced with a more appropriate option for the local market. Similarly, from market to market, the products that receive priority listing and are featured in promotions may differ.
- Example: Nintendo
The US in the 1980s had a very conservative attitude to video games. Japan, in contrast, couldn’t get enough of the cartoon-like violence. As a result, Nintendo localized their American promotional content to appeal to families, removing all references to sexuality, bad language, and violence that was present in the Japanese campaigns
In e-commerce, strong, consistent branding is essential. But how can a brand elicit the same reaction from customers in different languages and cultures? It’s all about portraying the brand’s attitude, not a precise translation of branding content.
This, combined with timely, on-brand messaging, will make locals feel like the brand is a part of their town—and they are a member of the brand’s community.
- Example: Coca Cola
When the international beverage behemoth first entered the Chinese market, the iconic brand name was translated as ‘bite the wax tadpole.’ Instead of the precise translation, an alternate phrase was quickly found that expressed the brand’s attitude.
3. Customer Service
The initial line of customer support in e-commerce is usually FAQs, followed by a virtual assistant of some sort. AI-driven chatbots must also be customized to recognize and respond to numerous languages and cultures, just as all textual manuals must be localized for local markets. This can include things like the direction text is written in, local currency units, and measuring systems, as well as the population’s demands in each place.
- Example: Chatbots in the United States vs. Chatbots in Japan
In the United States, a chatbot might address a user by their first name. However, in Japan, where this would be considered impolite, the chatbot should address people by their last name, followed by the suffix -san.
A picture of a product, a diagram, a chart, or an infographic are all examples of images. A well-chosen image communicates to the customer a valued feature or benefit. The image must be localized regardless of how the message is delivered.
The following are examples of factors that may be detected in an image that require localization:
- References to non-globally popular sports, movies, or musicians
- Religious symbols, such as a Christmas tree, or religious apparel, such as a headscarf, are examples of religious symbols.
- Different attitudes on body modesty may be an issue for women.
- Animals that elicit various emotions in different places of the world
- Color and body language are visual metaphors with different meanings around the world.
- Alt-text used to describe images for the visually impaired or when the image cannot load, whether it appears prominently or in the background, for example on a newspaper
- Embedded links, as well as the material they lead to, must be appropriate for the user’s location.
- Road signs, flags, and other markers of national identity
- Local customs, such as driving on the wrong side of the road
The local McDonald’s website in each nation is tailored to the country’s preferred color scheme, graphic style, and cuisine:
Local cultural preferences must also be considered when creating videos. In one culture, a pleasant scene may be repulsive in another. While localizing video may appear to be a demanding task, the rewards are well worth the effort.
6. User-interface messaging
User-interface (UI) messaging that is well-crafted, such as menu selections, error messages, navigation tools, and button wording, speeds up sales and increases conversion rates and customer retention. When this part of website text is effectively adapted for international markets, the message’s context is addressed, resulting in a fully localized user experience.
- Example: Buy Now
Adapting the well-known e-commerce tagline ‘Buy Now’ for overseas markets is more difficult than it appears. For local markets, different character counts will necessitate either a button redesign or rephrasing.
7. Search Engine Optimization
Using the same precision-targeted SEO strategies that you use in your home market to expand your e-commerce business abroad is a must. Not only must search phrases be translated, but they must also be localized.
This involves being aware that a search term may be phrased differently in different places, and that word choice may differ between countries speaking the same language, as in the case of couch vs. sofa. Depending on the climate and economic variables, search priorities may also change.
- For instance, consider local fashion.
In Norway, a fashion site would prioritize terms like “coats,” “boots,” and “waterproofs,” whereas in Spain, it might prioritize “sunglasses,” “sandals,” and “beachwear.”
8. Apps for mobile devices
App localization is a strategic imperative for any e-commerce organization, with more than three billion smartphone users worldwide. However, in other areas, the seemingly innocuous use of graphic symbols and emoticons can generate a controversy.
The ‘rock on!’ hand gesture, which is popular in the United States, is mocked in Italy, Spain, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.
A localized blog can go a long way toward creating a brand in the eyes of a shopper. It accomplishes this by adding locally relevant material that connects with residents of the area, as well as newsworthy items from the area, using locally targeted SEO.
It should ideally be produced specifically for that market, with input from a member of the local community.
- Example: Local events
If a country is having a major event, such as the Olympics, posting blogs about the upcoming activities and tying it all in with items and promotions accessible on the company’s website will help the blog to be more relevant, re-posted, and read than usual.
10. Social media
To be multinational, a company must do more than merely localize its website. It’s also vital to have a presence in local social media groups to communicate with potential customers in certain markets throughout the world. In addition to producing custom content, social media localization entails altering photographs, videos, captions, and hashtags to increase the popularity of the posts.
- Example: Starbucks
Coffee lovers around the world prefer various drinks, have varied cultural backgrounds, and use different hashtags on social media, according to the worldwide coffee firm. As a result, in each country, they built specialized Instagram profiles.
The marketing content that consumers consume is in their hands. They can choose from a variety of media and, while doing so, block advertisements and skip commercials.
When you add in the necessity to promote in multiple languages and cultures at the same time, modern marketing appears to be an overwhelming challenge.
Localized content looks to be developed locally to all intents and purposes, which will be reflected in the strategy’s ROI, if marketing material intended towards worldwide markets has a laser-like focus on each market’s demands, lifestyle, and behaviors.
- Example: Airbnb
Rather than bringing its Western marketing to China, Airbnb rebuilt itself as a Chinese firm in order to be recognized as such by its customers, even renaming itself Aibiying. As a result, the business was never eclipsed by its domestic rivals.
12. Corporate Documentation
The types of corporate documents available to staff and customers are determined by the size and nature of an e-commerce company, as well as the marketplaces in which it operates.
Training materials, instruction manuals, terms and conditions, and a variety of HR-related documents are examples of corporate paperwork.
Providing this information in people’s native languages and tailoring it to each cultural and geographical context instills company values in the organization and its customers.
- Example: Business Communication in Germany vs. Italy
Germans take a highly direct and businesslike approach to professional communications. In contrast, the Italian attitude is more relaxed, with the lines between professional and personal interactions blurring.
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