- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 12/02/2020
- eCommerce, localisation, localization
The Importance of Language in eCommerce
If you were to put a Brit, an American, and an Australian in the same room together, it would probably take just 10 minutes before one of them used a word the others didn’t know.
“Slagging off, what does that mean?”
“A windshield? Oh, you mean a windscreen!”
“I love watching a good doco’.”
Now, imagine trying to sell something to these different groups. While the overall message might be the same, you’re going to have to change up some of the verbiage and phrases to connect with your audience.
And that’s in the same language.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the importance of language in eCommerce and its ever-growing role in the booming business.
Let’s go back to the above example of our Aussie, Brit, and American. They are all talking over Facebook about the upcoming Champion’s League matches and through their hype and excitement, they all decide they need new soccer shoes to go out and dominate their next game.
They all come to the same eCommerce site that sells gear. The American looks for “soccer cleats” and finds a pair he likes. The Brit and Aussie look for “football boots” but don’t find any and instead head to another website.
Language localization plays a crucial role in eCommerce. Not only are you going to have to change the name of some products, but your advertising and marketing campaigns as well.
While in America you may say, “Dominate the field with X cleats!” you would say, “Dominate the pitch with X boots!” in the U.K.
In order to connect and build trust with consumers around the globe, you’re going to want to make sure you’re speaking their language.
That involves more than just vocabulary, but also terms, colloquial phrases, various phrasal verbs, and even puns. By localizing your language, you’re more likely to form a lasting relationship with all sorts of different customers.
In order to connect with people from all over the globe, you need to have someone from that part of the world work with you.
Native speakers are vital to any eCommerce business that’s wanting to go global. You can’t rely on Google Translate to help solve any issues. While Google Translate may be able to get the basic message across, it’s going to be filled with errors and other issues.
Take this article about Spain and Hungary in water polo, which when put through Google Translate reads like this:
“Spain remained again at the gates of continental gold, a firm that resists it. And it was in the most painful way possible, as in Barcelona two years ago. After putting Hungary on the ropes he fell back on penalties after Alvaro Granados failed the last penalty.”
While reading that, you might be able to understand what’s going on, but at the same time, you’re a bit confused about what’s actually happening.
You could try and make your whole website in English, 20% of the world speaks it, but that’s not an ideal strategy for breaking out into other markets.
The importance of language extends past just product descriptions and marketing campaigns as it will affect content across all platforms.
Content is how you’re going to relate to people and get them to visit your site. During the eCommerce website building process, you probably laid out a content strategy and plan.
While you might have a good idea of what you want your English content to look like, you may be lost when it comes to other countries. There are seasonal trends to examine, cultural events, and even random things that may become popular in one country but have no effect in another.
So with various language and country trends, they’re going to have a big impact on the content you publish and how you bring people to your site.
In the U.K., you might have a Guy Fawkes Day event where in the U.S. you may have a big Independence Day blowout.
Language is also going to affect keyword research and site optimization across the various versions of your website. It can’t just be a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter approach.