Corinne is the Social Media and Content Lead at BLEND. She is dedicated to keeping global business professionals up to date on all things localization, translation, language and culture.
Download our free PDF for The Professional Shopify Store Localization Guide, our complete guide to localizing your Shopify store for audiences anywhere.
Our guide covers everything you’ll need to know, including:
Simplify localizing your Shopify store for any market with our upcoming app for codeless, hassle-free translation. Sign up to speak to our team and be the first to see it in action!
The beauty of modern eCommerce? In short, the world is your oyster. eCommerce has allowed business owners to transcend borders like never before, opening up their stores to shoppers around the globe. But succeeding in multiple markets isn’t as straightforward as just opening an online store. Optimizing your store for international audiences is a process, and we’re here to show you just how to do it.
Once a retailer has an online presence, it should, in theory, be able to reach a global audience. But there are still plenty of hurdles, starting with language barriers and cultural differences. Localization is the process of removing those barriers to reach local markets.
Now more than ever, consumers want to feel important and understood when they buy online. Consumers will ignore marketing messages that don’t seem to address their specific needs and preferences.
Localization addresses this issue, enabling businesses to market to local audiences in ways that resonate with them. This means adapting your Shopify store to target new demographics. The localization process happens on several different levels:
For eCommerce, you’ll want to provide your audience with the option to view your site in their native language. This can be done using a combination of both human and machine translation. Using AI in translation can significantly speed up the website localization process and reduce the cost.
It’s important for your site to be visually appealing in any language. For example when a language is read from top to bottom (certain Asian languages) or from right to left (for example, Arabic) instead of left to right, it will affect your store’s design. Images and colors should also be adjusted to match local landscapes and preferences.
How people search for items depends on how they use them, or even what they call them, and that can change between markets. Using local keywords is essential to be discovered by new customers on search engines.
Ensure that your store’s content, product naming, and brand terms contain no offensive words or phrases, and adjust important content to hold local relevance for the target market. This part of the process might also include recommendations for local promotions according to regional holidays and festivals.
Consider providing multiple currency options for your audience to choose from, including their local currency to get more sales. When it comes to payment options, it is important to take into account that not all payment systems operate everywhere, and even if they do, popularity varies. To easily localize your Shopify site’s payment experience from checkout to delivery, check out Global-e, Shopify’s exclusive cross-border eCommerce third party provider.
Different countries have different legal requirements for eCommerce, including terms on what you can sell, how payments are processed, and what you can do with customer data.
The most basic step of eCommerce localization is offering your website in the local language. A survey found that 72% of customers spend most or all of their time browsing websites in their own language and are more likely to buy a product that has information in that language. Data also suggests that revenue can be up to 30% higher. Overall, when a website is comfortable to visit, it will attract more traffic: localization drives sales.
72% of consumers prefer to browse websites in their native language and are more likely to buy a product that has info in that language.
+30% Increase in revenue when consumers browse an eCommerce site in their own language.
Once you’ve achieved your original business goals at home, you probably want to keep growing, but you don’t want to lose the brand reputation that made you a success in the first place. Localization lets you reach consumers across the globe while preserving the atmosphere of a local company.
When you scale your business, you won’t just be up against other global vendors. You’ll also be competing with local businesses. Unless you have something special to offer, you may struggle to achieve sales targets. By blending in to stand out, your business will have an edge, as it has both a global presence together with a local, familiar feel.
Each geographic region has its specific holidays and special occasions. For example, Eid al-Adha is a great time for promotions in the UAE for example, as it is common to exchange gifts and wear new clothing on this holiday. The Chinese New Year is a common time for consumers in China and other Asian countries to buy gifts and spend money on renovating their homes. This means that marketing needs to be targeted according to the local calendar. By running a promotion at the right time, you can drive more sales and grow your brand.
This hilarious clip from the BBC will probably feel familiar enough to make you cringe. It illustrates an important point about eCommerce: there are an average of 15 fields in a checkout flow, leading to high levels of customer frustration and an average abandonment rate of almost 70%. When you localize your site, you should offer a seamless localized checkout – from language to currency and payment methods, making the whole process stress-free. Not only will your customer see the purchase through, but they will be much more likely to return to the site and recommend it to friends.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has grown in importance over the last decade as the amount of information available online has grown. By knowing exactly what your customers are looking for, you can ensure that you appear high in the search results. But what works in one place might not work in another. Slang words, local phrases, local brands, and cultural trends all form part of SEO success, so optimizing for the local market is essential. Data shows that 40% of consumers source their online purchase using a search engine – more than any other method.
Now that you understand the importance of localization, you can move on to implementation. At BLEND, we use our 4x4P strategy to break down the stages of the customer experience. Using these categories ensures that the localization process covers every step of the customer journey:
Any materials that the customer sees before they visit the website. This includes marketing, ads, and search engine results.
The user experience of the website, including item selection. This includes the website itself, product descriptions, pricing localization, and graphics or videos.
The user experience of the purchasing process, from the beginning of checkout to delivery. This includes payment method and currency, KYC requirements, and shipping systems.
Any materials used for follow-up and retargeting. This includes social media and customer reviews, remarketing, and targeted emails.
These four categories include all the elements of your site and customer communications that will need to be localized. For each element, you’ll have to localize language, graphics, cultural references, and technical details, as we discussed earlier in the “Localization explained” section.
If you’re working with a limited budget, consider prioritizing the parts of the customer journey where you see the most churning. If you find that you’re getting traffic from potential customers in Germany, for example, but see that German users aren’t getting past the first page they visit, then you will likely prioritize localizing the pre-purchase and purchase steps. Later on, you can localize the pre-visit and post-purchase steps for a full-proof funnel that attracts and retains international consumers.