3 Key Principles for Localizing Ecommerce at Scale for International Growth


Delivering a solid e-commerce customer experience can be challenging when you need to consistently and quickly localize large volumes of time-sensitive content across multiple languages ​​and markets.

Principles for overcoming these challenges and helping companies successfully expand their global reach were explored in depth at the Localizing at Scale for International Growth forum, hosted by Slator in partnership with Lingo24.

The diverse audience was a balance of e-commerce (31%), marketing (26%) and localization (43%) roles of attendees in the US (39%), Europe (33%), UK and Canada (21%).

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The nearly even split between B2B companies (56%) and B2C brands (44%) reflects cross-industry interest in how localization can win customers. Research has shown that online customers prefer to shop in their native language and that English speakers make up around 16% of the world’s five billion internet users.

In a quick poll, most forum attendees agreed that their biggest localization challenge was managing scale. John Yunker, author of The 2021 Web Globalization Report Card, pointed out that “the average number of languages ​​is now 33” for the top 150 websites and that, “even if you’re just starting out, you need to start planning for scale. “.

Yunker recommends starting with a locale-centric approach (rather than language), which allows businesses to scale faster as they expand their geographic and cultural reach. This is especially true for e-commerce “because you have to focus on the specific currency and market.”

The overall design is less designer

Simplifying the overall design promotes teamwork. Companies that use global templates and share tools, code, and templates with local teams can harmonize the user experience while saving time and effort when localizing new content across multiple websites.

Matt Madderra, Director of Web Services at Mouser Electronics, shared that the B2B distributor of electronic components uses responsive design to serve customers in 21 languages ​​across 63 country-specific websites.

A centralized template allows the team to create multiple mockups in multiple languages ​​that accommodate local preferences, such as larger font size for character-based languages ​​and responsive one-page views bandwidth and browsing habits in China.

“By having a single code base, we are able to add a more dynamic and localized approach to how we present content on our site while maintaining a global look and feel,” Madderra added.

Integrate machine translation into the workflow

A simplified and scalable overall design paves the way for automation, especially for machine translation (MT). While different use cases will require different levels of translation quality, post-editing can improve quality if needed; and adding a disclaimer may temper user expectations for some non-critical content.

Mouser’s website, for example, contains 40 million pages, including about 50,000 long articles that engineers read daily. “You have to use MT to do that,” Lingo24 CTO David Meikle said of high-volume translation. “There’s no other way to navigate that content ladder without it.”

According to the second forum poll, most participants already use or plan to use machine translation. Based on user demand, localization teams can prioritize content for professional translation into specific languages.

Madderra said working with Lingo24 has helped Mouser build a large translation memory, which has improved machine translation to the point that internal human reviewers for some languages, like German, no longer edit translations.

“You can try to do everything in-house and get a lot of bumps and bruises,” Madderra said. “But having someone like Lingo24, who wants to be a partner and help you grow, is actually one of the reasons we’re able to increase the number of languages ​​we have.”

Contact Lingo24 to learn more about end-to-end localization services powered by AI and automation.

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