Retail has driven globalization from the beginning. Now it’s high time for localization – because cultural context matters for your business.
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Online shopping has finally made it everywhere: In 2020 it’s become a given, just like paying a visit to the store in town – and people can do it in their pajamas. Which makes it even more personal ... and that means a challenge.
E-commerce has made it a reality: brands easily grow globally nowadays; but there's no "one fits all" approach to meet all customers' expectations and needs, wherever they live and what language they may speak. If your shopping experience is a uniform one across all channels, geographies and cultures, you'll be missing out on the chance to reach more international consumers.
Don't mistake uniformity for consistency (which is a must): language translation, localization and smart global content management remove barriers and enable you to engage more customers in new markets. Retail's e-commerce evolution has been accelerated in record speed in 2020 – based on equally impressive cornerstones:
E-Commerce's major milestones
Technically speaking, e-commerce became possible in 1991, when the internet was opened to commercial use. However, in its first usage, the term e-commerce referred to the process of executing basic electronic transactions via technologies such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
When public use of the World Wide Web became popular, e-commerce evolved to include the broader act of buying and selling consumer goods and services electronically. And just like that, the online shopping phenomenon was born:
- 1994 granted more public access, as online security protocols were developed (e.g., HTTP), and the first widely-used web browser, Netscape Navigator, launched.
- Just one year later, in 1995, eBay was founded, and even Amazon made its first sale.
- By 1996, over 40 million people had internet access at home, and online sales surpassed $1 billion for the year.
- In 1998, PayPal was founded, changing the way people make payments online.
- By the year 2000 – just four short years after surpassing the $1 billion mark – revenue from U.S. online shopping alone surpassed $25 billion.
- In the second quarter of 2020, the US Census Bureau of the DOC (Department of Commerce) observed that 16,1% of all retail sales in the US were e-commerce sales.
- Statista estimates that in 2023, retail e-commerce sales globally will amount to over 6.5 trillion US$, compared to a little over 3.5 trillion US$ in 2019.
These numbers visualize the increasing importance of digital experiences, and how the growth of e-commerce (which is becoming m-commerce more and more) opens up new market segments like never before.
Clearly, one of the most important trends for retailers looking to stay ahead of the curve is personalization – for physical and digital experiences. And what’s more personal than speaking your customer’s language ...
Retail, e-commerce, translation and localization – hand in hand
With current state of the art in professional localization services, language is getting easier to navigate in the retail space. And it has become critical in terms of customers’ experiences. What matters more than ever before: since 2014, global online retail sales have more than tripled – and continue to grow.
The more people worldwide shop online, the more important it becomes to personalize information – especially for new audiences, often not as familiar with navigating the globe virtually. But in the end, it's true for almost all of us: To feel familiar and confident, customers want to search for, to learn about and buy products and services not only in their native languages, but with products, services and messaging fitting their cultural norms.
Conclusion: When devising your physical and digital retail growth strategy, remember that retail, translation and localization have a symbiotic relationship – and that the future of shopping, in any form, will be multilingual and intercultural.
Here are the four tips to get you started on your way to global success:
1. Seamlessly integrate your physical and digital experiences
From in-store to online, it's crucial that your brand remains consistent across markets and channels. Cater to cultural differences, and use a professional translation and localization vendor to ensure accurate, appropriate translations, localizing adequately your messaging.
2. Localize your product descriptions
What’s worse than missing product descriptions? Poorly translated ones! When consumers see oddities or even errors in product descriptions that appear in their native language, they easily start to question the trustworthiness of the product, service or brand. Professional, in-country linguists are vital.
3. Customize your marketing campaigns
Ensuring consistent brand messaging across global markets is crucial – your campaigns should be implemented in the local language, respecting cultural differences. Ask for a transcreation rather than just a marketing translation.
4. Perform website and mobile-app localization
Digitalization increasingly expands new customer possibilities, so we can’t over-emphasize the importance of website localization to reach your multilingual and intercultural (potential) customer base. And with m-commerce on the rise, mobile app localization is just as important as a localized website.
Above tips can help you to efficiently and intelligently manage global content and gain a competitive advantage in today’s fast-moving, digital economy. Localization helps to remove barriers, making it easier to enter new markets, to increase customer engagement and satisfaction, to strengthen global presence – and ultimately to increase revenue from all your channels.
If you need a comprehensive roadmap to a brighter future for your retail business, read our 12 top tips for your retail restart.
About the author
Eva Mäkler is Content Marketing Manager at Amplexor, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in Cross-Media Journalism, Eva joined Amplexor in 2020. She's a qualified Social Media-, Online- and Online Marketing Editor and Digital Media Producer, additionally certified in Inbound- and Content Marketing.