in e-commerce, Localization Tips

Localization in eCommerceeCommerce is an emerging global industry that is demonstrating unprecedented growth. eMarketer estimates global e-commerce spending to reach a whopping US$1 trillion by the end of 2016 and double by the year 2020. In a world engrossed in the new “connected age,” it is all too apparent that the rapid rise of e-commerce is one of the more incredible phenomena of our times. Without the hindrance of geographical barriers and borders, the e-commerce market offers businesses and consumers a streamlined ability to easily exchange a wealth of goods and services across the globe. However, there are many obstacles unique to e-commerce. For example, the language barrier presents one of the toughest walls to scale in the attempt to build a global brand. Thus, it should come as no surprise that this influx of international exchange necessitates extensive knowledge of localization in eCommerce.

Businesses are faced with the challenge of remaining true to their brand, while still managing to effectively localize their online presence. Retail websites, for example, require much more than a basic translation if they are to be successful internationally. To remain competitive, these sites must continually innovate, offer great customer service, and provide quality products. However, any large website with a global following must also localize its content. Proper translation requires attention to detail, such as translating the following: menus, buttons, promotions, alerts, and converting prices, sizes, etc. Proper localization is also crucial in targeting specific audiences as cultural standards naturally guide consumers’ purchasing behaviors.

Below is an example of a poorly localized retail website:


While this website is intended for a Japanese audience, it does not bear any similarity to many other Japanese sites. This homepage appears targeted for a Western audience as most of the text is in English, and it uses a simplistic background with a Caucasian model. This demonstrates a poorly executed approach to effective e-commerce localization. Failure to adapt to the local culture inevitably causes potential customers to lose trust in the brand and to shop elsewhere.

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In contrast, the following website,, is obviously more localized and targeted to a Japanese audience:


As consumers shift to online shopping, there will be a greater demand for a more personally tailored digital experience, and this will drive an increasing demand for human translators. These translators will become invaluable in the process of online localization, as fine-tuning a translation to appear familiar and colloquial is essential to reaching global audiences. Imagery, textual content, and user experience must all be taken into account when branching into global e-commerce markets and only humans skilled in localization and marketing can be effective. Furthermore, a localized website is much more inviting and familiar to the intended consumer base, and thus, will drive more local traffic. Therefore, good quality translation and localization are essential for any business attempting to enter and thrive in the growing industry of e-commerce.

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