Newbies in the international ecommerce industry may not fully appreciate the importance of localization. In fact, the term may be misunderstood and confused with translation. Most business that are involved in selling goods to an international market understand that they have little chance of actually connecting with much of the potential market unless their goods are advertised clearly in the languages preferred by their potential customers. What they may not appreciate fully is that translation must go beyond straightforward or literal conversion of marketing information from one language to another. It must be localized.
Many businesses planning their introduction to selling goods internationally are well aware that they have to budget for translation. The question is whether they have done sufficient cost benefit analysis of just what the commercial advantages of using a professional localization team to do their localization for business tasks for them. Admittedly, this is not easy to do with a new business, but evidence available from already well established e-commerce businesses is that the cost of professional localization for business is well worth it in the long run. Here’s why!
Why localization is worth spending money on
Localization is all about adapting a marketing message to a particular community or group of potential customers. It’s all about making the things you sell visible to people who use a distinct dialect or have a culture that is distinctly different from your own.
You know from general knowledge that not everyone at “home”, wherever that is thinks the same, speaks with the same accent or prefers the same things. It’s not just the social grouping, localization may include adapting marketing content so that it becomes attractive to particular age groups or genders as well as those who use certain idiomatic or colloquial language.
It may be better to think about this topic by speculating what could happen if:
- translation is not done at all;
- translation is done badly;
- there is no localization.
If no translation is done, then your products are unlikely to be seen on the internet by anyone outside of a country where your own language is spoken or understood. In fact, it could be worse than that because so many countries these days are multicultural or multilingual as a direct result of immigration trends. Research convincingly shows that most people browse products they are interested in on websites that are in their preferred language.
If translation is done badly, it means that your sales pitch will appear amateurish at best and untrustworthy at worst. Your investment in promoting your products overseas will be wasted by not spending enough n professional translation services.
If no localization is done then you risk alienating potential customers. You could offend them, confuse them or just plain not amuse them. The result is the same as above: the investment you make will be wasted.
The lesson is to take localization seriously and use a professional translator with localization skills in the language or languages you choose to use.