The Comtec Blog
Follow the latest trends in international business, learn more about the managing your brand abroad and the technology available to help companies communicate globally via our blog.
Top tips on translating e-commerce websites
The business landscape has changed dramatically over recent years, and today we compete in a fast-paced and ever-growing global marketplace.
These days the vast majority of successful businesses understand the importance of using an e-commerce website to sell online to their customers; but surprisingly many are still missing out on a potentially huge share of the international market.
Research consistently shows that customers would rather buy from websites in their own language. When you consider that there are roughly 1.5 billion non-English speaking internet users, and that global e-commerce spending is expected to grow by around 13.5% a year over the next few years, can you afford for your e-commerce website not to communicate effectively within the global marketplace?
E-commerce website localisation is a process which helps businesses to break into overseas markets and maximise their profits. It involves adapting an e-commerce website for a specific group of people, taking into account local cultures, values and dialects. In this article we will discuss the process in more detail and give advice to help ensure the localisation of your e-commerce website is managed with success.
Our Top 10 E-Commerce Website Localisation Tips
1. Use Google tools to find out which markets are likely to buy your products
There are tools at your disposal: Google Analytics, Google Market Finder and even just the internet are valuable research tools. But remember that a product which is successful in one market might be completely inappropriate in another. Make sure you target the markets which are most likely to need, or want, your products.
2. Make use of organisations that offer advice to help you expand
There are a number of organisations designed to help businesses expand overseas. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) offers a wealth of information and advice, including country reports which will assist your research. Other useful services include the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) and the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS).
3. Look at the culture and competition in new markets
Once you have identified the key markets you plan to enter, further research is recommended. Who are your competitors and how they are marketing their products? It can be particularly useful to look at successful e-commerce websites already operating in your target market and try to identify key features which make them appeal to customers. Looking at which languages are spoken is also highly beneficial, as there can often be different languages used in a single country. There are also bound to be a number of cultural differences which could impact your promotional efforts. Working with a good provider of e-commerce website localisation will reduce the potential for negative effects, as they will have experience of both the language and the culture of your target markets.
4. Remember remember, remember – audience, audience, audience
Always have in mind who you are selling to. Some of your products might not be suitable in some markets; if this is the case don’t include them on your localised website. Localise product descriptions to suit the target market – a straightforward translation of the English description might not work in certain markets. This applies to images as well as text. A product photograph that might be perfectly acceptable in the UK may not be appropriate in another country. Also consider that different markets may use different standard measures and pack sizes. And, perhaps, most importantly, don’t forget that your overseas customers want to know the price of your products in their own currency!
5. Explain clearly how products will be delivered
If you plan on selling products overseas through your localised e-commerce website you need to have reliable delivery methods in place and make your shipping costs clear to customers from the start. You should also have a returns facility for customers. This should be clearly explained – in your customers’ own language – on your e-commerce website.
6. Re-think your domain name.com?
With a new foreign language website comes a new domain name. And increasingly, more and more search engines are taking domain location into account. This means, for example, that when a customer enters a search term in Japan, the search engine is more likely to return results with a .jp extension, rather than a .uk extension. The solution is to purchase the right domain extension for each market you intend to target and host each one locally. However, there are other options, including using a subdomain or setting up language specific subfolders within your top level domain; for example www.website.co.uk/de.
7. Is your new market and potential audience mobile shoppers?
In 2012, global mobile e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time – and in the same year mobile e-commerce (known as m-commerce) grew by 300%. Many major retailers have fully functional mobile sites which make up a significant proportion of their sales. But a standard website does not always function as it should on a mobile device, so it’s certainly worth making sure your localised e-commerce site is mobile friendly – or has a separate mobile-friendly site – to reach customers browsing on mobile devices.
8. Optimise online marketing strategies – Google is not for all countries
Most likely, your marketing strategy, with some adaptation, will be equally effective in your target market. Whilst, of course you should still localise your off-line marketing material, the main potential issues will arise online. SEO and social networks are two off the most powerful modern marketing tools, but different territories have different preferences. Some countries use different search engines, so finding the right information, including which social networking sites your potential customers use most, is vital.
9. Remember to provide consistent customer service in their language!
Having taken the initiative to translate your e-commerce website in order to encourage overseas customers to buy from you, don’t then make the mistake of falling short when it comes to the after-sales service. You are likely to receive enquiries from overseas customers, written in their own language, so make sure you have a system in place for translating these enquiries and responding appropriately in the customer’s language. This should also extend to localising automatic emails to clients with regards to orders, including order confirmations, shipping updates and any feedback requests. It is no use speaking your customers’ language before they buy your products, then expecting them to speak English for any follow-up enquiries!
10. Check your website works locally
Testing your website works as intended in your target markets is an excellent idea. The best way to ensure this is by working with an in-house native speaker or a contact in your local target market. Conducting a thorough trial of your localised e-commerce website, including a test product purchase, with the help of a native speaker allows you to iron out any issues or inconsistencies before releasing it to the public. One important point to note when planning your new website is that most languages will take up more space than English. Being aware of this allows you address this issue at the outset. It might also be worth running a search for your website using the search engines in your target market – it may surprise you to learn that not everyone relies on Google, so consider your position on other search engines, specifically the ones popular within your target countries.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider with e-commerce website localisation. A successful localisation project can really pay dividends. Check out our short guide on helping you set up your foreign language website. This guide provides helpful advice both for the companies looking to make more of their website to build business abroad and those considering exporting for the first time.
If you have any questions about setting up an e-commerce website in different languages, please contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 1926 3335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How UK companies can access £billions from global e-commerce markets
Stats show that online shoppers are on the increase every day, and they’re spending more and more too. In Europe alone there are 240 million shoppers each spending in the region of £840 every year. Your company can access these shoppers, and their wallets, with ease and speed.
In 20 years the e-commerce phenomenon has soared. Amazon and eBay launched in 1995 and changed the way people shopped. E-commerce is now an unstoppable powerhouse that’s predicted to increase by 13.5% over the next 3 years. (Cisco Systems Research).
Europe is the leading e-commerce market in the world, and it’s on your doorstep
For UK companies, there’s no better place to start looking at expanding than into Europe. And with an e-commerce market value of around £206billion, it’s not one to be over-looked.
You need to do your research to find which market is right for your brand, but shoppers in these European leading countries are considered to have the most active shoppers spending around £840 each per year:
What e-commerce markets should you be watching?
The top 10 list shows a number of nations who are beginning to gain a larger share of the global market. And they could gain with speed as well.
Take China’s e-commerce market, in just 5 years it rapidly grew from £630million to £26billion with e-commerce accounting for almost 90% of its business-to-consumer market.
Top 10 countries for e-commerce potential, based on infrastructure, regulatory issues and retail-specific variables. (AT Kearney’s 2012 E-Commerce Index)
1. China – by 2014 will be worth around £147 billion
2. Brazil – set to increase by 26% or more annually (Cisco Systems)
3. Russia – set to increase by 26% or more annually (Cisco Systems)
6. United Arab Emirates
The United States, UK and Japan are expected to command more than 53% of e-commerce sales by 2015.
Look out for underdog – they may surprise you
Countries with relatively low internet penetration like Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and India are still worth watching with interest as they have huge potential for growth.
However there are also opportunities in countries where the internet is more established, such as Japan. With 70% of users shopping online in the market, there’s potential for significant growth with greater expenditure per person.
How can businesses take advantage of e-commerce markets?
In order to take a market share of these substantial e-commerce sales, your business needs to be able to communicate effectively with potential customers, and in their native languages. (internal link to blogs)
Did you know: It takes 12 languages to reach 80% of the total online population
Website translation is now more important than ever for reaching out to consumers. While it’s been estimated that a company’s website would have to be available in 12 languages in order to reach 80% of the total online population, by 2020 this figure is expected to have risen to 20 languages.
This does not, of course, mean that you should immediately start translating your company website into 20 languages! The choice of language(s) into which to translate your website will be based on solid market research and a clear understanding of where the opportunities lie.
Check out our short guide on helping you set up your foreign language website. This guide provides helpful advice both for the companies looking to make more of their website to build business abroad and those considering exporting for the first time.
If you have any questions about setting up a website in different languages, please contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 1926 3335 681 or email email@example.com.
Calling all businesses – get ready for the Mobile Wallet revolution
This could be the future of payments for your clients. In fact, in many places it’s already arrived.
KFC has just become the latest big company to support mobile wallet payments in its UK stores, joining the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks. The latter is also introducing the technology in its 7,000 American outlets. Carrefour, the second largest retailer in the world by sales figures, has already implemented mobile payment systems in its French stores.
What is a mobile wallet?
It’s a method of paying for goods using a smartphone. Payments can be made remotely, via text message or by tapping the phone against an in-store terminal.
And while the idea is relatively new in some markets, in others it has already made a big impact. Perhaps most surprisingly, mobile wallets have really taken off in developing countries; mainly due to a lack of desktop access to the internet and online banking.
Kenyan women now worry less about being mugged for money
Since 2007, Kenya has experienced something of a mobile wallet revolution. Despite many not having a bank account, 50% of the adult population uses a mobile wallet. Users pay cash at a shop, have it loaded onto their phone and can then send money via a text message to pay for bills, items in shops or to send money to other mobile wallet users. Not only is the system simple but it has helped remove mugging worries for many people who no longer have to carry cash around.
Haiti is one of the leaders of Mobile Wallet systems
Even though Haiti is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it has one of the most successful mobile wallet systems in the world – despite mobile phone penetration of just 35-40%.
In its first year, the mobile wallet attracted 10% of the adult population – a figure that, on average, takes most markets four years to achieve. In fact the 800,000 users made almost 10 million transactions in that one year alone.
Global growth of the Mobile Wallet
This budding concept is expected to have a similar effect in other countries, with the global mobile wallet market predicted to reach USD 1,602.4 billion by 2018, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 30.7% from 2012 to 2018 (Transparency Market Research).
Potential benefits of Mobile Wallet systems for businesses:
• Automatically collecting purchase data
• Monitoring individual customer purchasing habits
• Building customer profiles
• Developing targeted promotions
• Assessing the success of promotional strategies
• Providing customers with convenience
• Remaining at the forefront of payment technologies
If you’re keen for your company to stay ahead of its competitors it might be time to look into mobile wallet technology. Because even if you customers aren’t yet using mobile wallets, the chances are they soon will be.
Comtec is here to help companies talk global business by providing a range of language and translation services. For further information please contact a member of our customer services team on +44 (0) 1926 3335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 languages on the verge of extinction
Every week another language disappears for good. If nothing is done about it, around half of the almost 7,000 languages spoken today will be extinct by the end of the century.
As each language dies, so does a huge part of our world’s history. Not just words and sentences, but songs, stories and jokes; never to be spoken or heard again.
10 languages about to be lost forever:
1. Korana (South Africa)
A shining example of a language on the verge of extinction, last year Korana was listed as having just one speaker.
2. Tehuelche (Argentina)
With just three native speakers, the language of Tehuelche is considered critically endangered.
3. Achumawi (USA)
With fewer than 10 native elderly speakers, this language will soon be extinct. A programme was set up the 1980s to try to maintain the language, but this is no longer in operation.
4. Zaramo (Tanzania)
Only a few elderly speakers still communicate using Zaramo.
5. Kardofanian (Kenya)
This severely endangered language is still spoken by around 50 people.
6. Gardiol (Italy)
With only around 300 native speakers of grandparent-age, this language is severely endangered.
7. Poitevin (France)
Only a few elderly speakers use Poitevin and numbers are decreasing rapidly, with even the most competent speakers likely to be heavily influenced by French.
8. Irantxe (Brazil)
One of many severely endangered languages in Brazil, Irantxe is thought to have fewer than 90 native speakers remaining.
9. Michif (Canada)
The endangered language of Michif has fewer than 200 native speakers, nearly all of whom are over 70 years old.
10. Cornish (UK)
Believe it or not, Cornish has been extinct several times but has been relearnt and now has around 600 speakers, showing that it is possible for a language to be revived.
Why do languages die?
As the world becomes more globalised and people move on from traditional ways of life, the dominant languages win over smaller ones. An environment that respects multilingualism can allow smaller languages to survive, and enable a wealth of cultural information and ancestral knowledge to continue to be passed on to future generations.
If you have any questions regarding translation services, or would like assistance from Comtec’s language and cultural experts, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email email@example.com
The import-ance of tea
How tea has helped shape the business of global trade
Did you know that tea was discovered by accident? And that this accidental discovery has played a key role in the development of international business links?
Legend has it that in 2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor, Shan Nong, was visiting a distant region and drinking his usual cup of boiled water when a few tea leaves landed in his cup. He found the drink to be so energising that he immediately ordered for tea bushes to be planted in the gardens of the palace where he lived.
Faster sail boats, technical advances - all thanks of tea
Tea arrived in Europe in the early 17th century via Dutch and Portuguese sailors. It was sold at auctions in Britain and Holland, but could only be afforded by the wealthy. Even so, tea was a key factor in establishing early international trade connections between the east and west. It even led to a number of technological developments such as faster sail boats – designed to speed up the deliveries of tea from China to Europe.
The most important trade item for Britain
As import volumes increased and British companies were established for the sole purpose of importing tea, it eventually became cheaper and could finally be enjoyed by the masses. In fact, tea drinking became so popular that it soon became Britain’s most important trade item from China.
These days the company Unilever leads global sales of tea – with retail values around four times that of its nearest competitor. Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe are the main drivers of the company’s growth, jointly making up 66% of its worldwide growth in 2011-12 (Euromonitor International).
There are currently no signs of tea losing its popularity, with around 165 million cups of tea consumed every day in Britain alone.
Some inTEAresting facts:
• Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter of tea (FAO Statistical Yearbook)
• The Russian Federation is the biggest importer of tea (FAO Statistical Yearbook)
• China produces the world’s largest variety of fine quality teas (Global Tea Brokers)
• The Republic of Ireland is the nation which drinks the most tea per capita, followed by Britain (United Kingdom Tea Council)