For an e-commerce company or for that matter any company, the biggest question is always whether to go beyond their own home-market or not. At one hand, opportunity to expand for gaining more revenue and market-share is too good to miss out, but on the other hand, they would be getting out of their own comfort zone catering to the audience whose taste and needs would totally be different. But, as they say “The bigger the risk, the greater the reward”, usually companies want to go global and thus target larger audience.
The problem arises when in comparison to a normal company which sells product(s), e-commerce companies can only interact with their possible customers through their website. If the interface and site’s language doesn’t interests him or her, then they can simply close it. That’s the point of Localization, which ensures that one’s website is being portrayed as linguistically and culturally appropriate for the target market. Though, it’s pretty straightforward, many companies don’t want to invest in it because it takes a lot of time and effort.
But, the fact of the matter remains the same that communication best happens when the products are sold in the regional language. It increases website’s credibility in the mind of the customers and customer tends to trust it more easily. This process of translating or converting a product into various languages and causing it to sort of migrate itself to be conducive for comprehension to a specific region or country is known as language localization. And, one must understand that this process encompasses more than just language translation and in fact has more ramifications. With translation to a regional language, you achieve a cultural shift for the website.
Amazon is world’s largest e-commerce websites selling from books to electronics and much more. But, for global audience, the website is localized according to the local preferences.
Rakuten is Japan’s biggest e-commerce website and for going global, they customized the website according to the local market.
There are many more such success stories of the companies who took the plunge to localize themselves for the target market.
Tips for localizing the website
• Before doing anything, try understanding the target audience. It will help in taking the right decisions about localization.
• Instead of doing everything at once, take step by step approach. Even a Microsite can give fair idea about user’s behavior and preferences.
• Apart from language, try localizing the design as well according to local preferences taking into account of cultural meaning of colors, symbols, etc.
One must take the cultural customization of the website very seriously. Lack of it can lead to cultural blunders, translation blunders, users finding the website unfamiliar and strange, high bounce rates (users coming on to the website, and immediately going back), reluctance to make a purchase, less number of repeat visits, bad word of mouth, and many other attitudinal and behavioral actions from the customers, that can undermine the globalization effort.
There’s a famous quote- “When in Rome, live as the Romans do.” With localization, the website can negate every barrier possible that stands in the way of customer’s point of purchase decision to order from it or not.