Ecommerce Localization: The Ultimate Guide for 2022

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As an entrepreneur or small business owner with an online store, you might hear something like “Ecommerce Localization” and immediately pass out from what sounds like the most boring phrase in the world.

But ecommerce localization is one of the most exciting and expansive things you’ll come across. Imagine suddenly being able to reach new audiences around the world – customers in the places and countries that have always interested you. Now imagine them buying from your online store.

This article will serve as your guide to ecommerce localization. It will tell you what it involves, the benefits, and how to get started. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of good ecommerce localization, so we’re excited to spread the knowledge.

What Is Ecommerce Localization?

Simply put, ecommerce localization is making your online store suitable for a new culture, language, geographical region, or other specific group of people.

But this isn’t just using Google Translate on your website and social media. It’s about taking the time to understand a group’s culture and how that impacts how they shop online.

We’re all better communicators when we’re curious about others. And if you invest a little time, paired with ecommerce best practices, you can reach a potential huge audience in ways most of your competitors aren’t doing.

Sounds good, right?

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Ecommerce localization isn’t limited to a particular culture or country. For example, disabled people make up approximately 25% of the world population but few online businesses try to reach them. Red Stag provides color combinations to avoid in order to meet the needs of people with color blindness.

Red Stag's website provides combinations for color blind people.

Benefits of Ecommerce Localization

There are so many benefits to ecommerce localization. Here are just a few:

More Money

The more people you appeal to the more you make. A great example is how customers use the search engine in your online store – up to 70% of ecommerce sites don’t give useful results unless the customer uses exact wording. Knowing and providing the actual words your new audience would use will dramatically improve conversion.

Scalability

You determine the pace of your online store’s ecommerce localization. As your business grows, you can expand your brand identity to any size audience that you want when you want it, no matter where they are.

Better Customer Service

Imagine being able to better predict what your new audience will want, what they need, and the best way to let them know about it. A business that learns about its customers and their needs is the kind that creates loyalty and attracts customers to its store time and time again.

Collaborations

Being an entrepreneur or business owner is so much more than the bottom line! Exciting things happen when we collaborate, and ecommerce localization opens you up to a brand new world of businesses and creatives and customers who you wouldn’t normally have access to. Valentino collaborated with Chinese giant Alibaba, which led to a successful pop-up store and further collaborations. The Valentino brand is now one of the most beloved brands in China.

The Valentino collaboration with Alibaba brought beautiful products to China.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Dare we say you could also gain…friendships? Better understanding leads to better relationships. There are amazing people out there who you’ll vibe with.

How to Localize Your Ecommerce Store

Let’s get to the business side of things. There are some key steps and areas of an ecommerce store that can be localized, including:

Market Analysis

People are happier to buy from online businesses that are localized whether its color schemes, buying patterns, how language is used, cultural rules, or a host of other elements. It’s all information that when correctly applied can deeply strengthen and broaden your market presence.

Language

Language is really important in your ecommerce localization. 75% of online customers are more likely to buy again if customer service is in their native language. There’s not really much point in converting your goods and services to a new audience without the correct words to reach that new audience in the first place.

SEO Meta Data

This is another arena where it’s not just about translating terms. There is really specific info about how keywords should be used in their own context, because depending on the microlocation, word choice and order can change.

Payments and Prices

Price sensitivity is essential because you won’t sell anything that’s overpriced, and you will make smaller profits on things that are underpriced. And payment methods are important too!

Not everyone has a credit card, and some people need paper methods of payment even in an ecommerce store. Plus, different countries favor different payment methods – offering familiar payment options can help to build trust with your customers. This chart from Shopify shows the variety of payment habits in different countries.

Shopify provides payment habits to help you localize.

Shipping

The more you know about the reliability of local postal and delivery services, what types of pick up and drop-off locations are best, and how local events and weather impact shipping, the happier your customer will be.

Logistics

As an online store owner, you’re part of a supply chain. So are your potential customers. Is your target region logistically feasible from where you are? It’s not that you shouldn’t deliver to the research center in Antarctica, but should you be offering them next day delivery?

VAT

Tax is always a tricky one for any owner of an ecommerce business. Do your research on international tax laws and import and custom fees because you can inform your customers up front about costs and you’ll be protected from nasty legal and financial surprises.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: If ecommerce localization seems overwhelming, why not hire someone to help you? You’ll save time, get all kinds of specialized knowledge and credibility. One Sky is a great place to start with translators ready to go.

One Sky provides the translator you need to reach your audience

Cultural Aspects to Consider When Localizing Your Ecommerce Store

There are more than business and logistical considerations in ecommerce localization. There are key cultural aspects to think about that will vastly improve your results including:

Currencies

Want an easy way to increase your conversion by 40%? Provide prices in local currency or add a currency selector on your website. Customers prefer prices in their currency so that they know right away if it’s affordable. Ecommerce localization legend Zalando provides prices in home currencies.

zalando poland ecommerce localization
Zalando's Polish store shows prices in złoty, Poland's main currency.

Slang Terms and Jargon

Have you ever heard a tourist try to speak your language with old-fashioned, formal words? Or have you done that while traveling internationally? A lack of culturally-aware slang is a flashing sign that you’re a novice. Take the time to learn the slang and you’ll communicate better and show you care. Bonus: slang can be hilarious.

Dimensions

People in the USA might be used to miles, gallons, and inches. But just about everyone else (except Myanmar and Liberia) prefers metric. You want your buyers to understand exactly what they’re getting or you’ll be faced with expensive returns.

Time Zones

No one wants a customer calling their service line at 3:54am. So whether you plan on having a chatbot take down your international customers’ feedback or questions, or you open up a specific window of communication for them, be aware that international customers might have needs outside your usual 9-5.

Date Formats

If your special holiday sale ends on 1/3, that means January 3rd to you, right? But to most people around the world, it actually means 1st March. Make sure your dates automatically convert or make it foolproof by writing them out.

Popular Regional Brands

The competition might be low where you are, but what’s it like in the new regions you’re got your eye on? What do the most popular regional brands do? How do they reach their audience? How do they present their products, prices, and company?

Summary

Considering all the tools and information available for online businesses that are considering ecommerce localization, it seems to not do so would miss out on huge financial and social benefits.

It’s more than that, though. Ecommerce localization is a chance to not only increase your customer base, but to get an advantage over your competition, and to create new friendships and collaborations with amazing people you might have never met otherwise.

There aren’t many things that both broaden your horizons and your wallet, so why not give it a try?

FAQs

The time and effort scares away most competitors. But considering 40% of shoppers refuse to buy in other languages and 73% want product reviews in their own language (if nothing else) seems like a safe bet.
Start with market research to gain a solid understanding of your new target audience. Only then can you go about translating your website copy, pricing your products in a new currency, set your shipping strategies, and start planning a marketing strategy tailored to your new audience.
Oh there are so many. Like “mager” in Indonesian which means you feel so lazy you can’t get off the couch, even for your friends. Or the Farsi term “zhaghzhagh” which refers to your teeth chattering because you’re SO MAD. We’ve all been there.
Yes! Knowing how to choose the right products to sell to your customers is hugely important, but that also makes it daunting. The best advice we can give is to start with your customers – what problem can you solve for them with your products? And follow this up with in-depth competitor and market research. Our guide What to Sell Online walks you through how to find reliable product suppliers in more detail.

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