During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world saw a dramatic shift to e-commerce. Need accelerated online interactions as consumers turned to the Internet for shopping after a in-store shopping became difficult and potentially dangerous.
Thus, the flourishing of online stores represents a challenge for brands, especially for those that operate in several countries and seek to win over customers internationally. What is the importance of translation and localization in this e-commerce boom?
New horizons open as e-commerce grows
During 2021, e-commerce sales were at US$ 870 billion in the United States, an increase of 14.2% compared to 2020 and an increase of 50.5% compared to 2019. This accounted for 13.2% of all retail sales in 2021 in the United States, according to the US Department of Commerce Retail Indicator Division’s Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales 4th Quarter 2021 report.
E-commerce retail sales in the United States in the 1st quarter of 2022 accounted for US$ 250 billion, an increase of 2.4% over the 4th quarter of 2021. Source: The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce
In turn, according to eMarketer, the categories that saw the fastest growth over the past two years were furniture, building materials and electronics, which together increased more than 200% from 2019. Food and beverage e-commerce grew 170%, accounting for 9.6% of all grocery sales in 2021.
For both, companies that restrict their online stores to U.S. based consumers, where for example a large percentage of the population is of Hispanic origin, and those that market internationally, having sites with multilingual e-commerce capabilities is critical.
The benefits of a multilingual online store
–Obtain a greater reach and improve SEO: a website in more than one language reaches more potential customers, while helping improve the company visibility in search engines.
–Achieve greater engagement: if a brand offers a site including multilingual translations, people associate it with a customer-centric concept, and this maximizes loyalty and engagement in the long run.
–Maximize international sales: the chances of selling more increase when visitors can easily understand all the features and details of an online store’s products.
–Boost international brand recognition: increasing international traffic also improves brand awareness.
–Drive business differentiation: especially in markets with a lot of competition, having multilingual websites is an opportunity to be unique through a customized customer centric approach with localized translated content.
In 2021, e-commerce retail sales amounted to about USS 4.9 trillion worldwide. This figure is expected to grow by 50% over the next four years, reaching about USS 7.4 trillion by 2025. Source: Statista
Of course, when translating and localizing an online store, the most important thing is to work with language service professionals. This is the only way to avoid misinterpretations and errors, especially those related to cultural, racial and gender issues.
In this manner, machine translations, for example, often resort to literalism, and this results in poor quality, since they are unable to identify the nuances of the messages and fail to readapt them according to the target customers. This becomes even more relevant when there are wrong interpretations of product descriptions, which generates logistics costs in the form of returns as well as loss of customers due to poor quality service.
Comprehensive translation services, which follow exhaustive processes, manage to address the challenges and complexities behind the localization of e-commerce sites. As this is not a linear task, hiring experts becomes a top priority.