Grow your business with eCommerce localization

Yauhen Zaremba
October 21, 2022
9 min read

Thinking about expanding your eCommerce store and entering the international arena? More and more online storefronts are going global these days, and that means eCommerce localization is now a vital element of your business strategy.

In order to find success in new markets, businesses need to make their products, services, and sites accessible to global audiences. But how? Here is how to get started on your eCommerce localization journey.

What is eCommerce Localization?

Ecommerce localization is the process of adapting a business’ online presence for another market – i.e., trading in another country. It applies to all kinds of online businesses, from fashion to enterprise microservices.

Localization involves adjusting business-related content like product pages, social media posts, images, videos, and other resources so that they are accessible to customers in the market you are trying to reach.

Localization is sometimes confused with translation, but translation is only one component in the process. Instead, we can think of localization as the comprehensive transformation of a business’s online presence for a new market.

As well as translating content into the local language, localization involves adjusting a whole host of features to suit local consumer interests, behaviors, and culture. Without these adjustments, a product or service that saw success in its home country is likely to fall flat when marketed overseas.

Everything from units of measurement to local holidays, regulations, and tastes must be taken into account as part of the eCommerce localization process.

What are the Benefits of eCommerce Localization?

It might sound like a lot of work, but eCommerce localization promises the potential for business growth and expansion in international markets.

Let’s take a look at some more localization benefits.

1: Business Growth

Since localization is designed to help online stores tap into new markets, it naturally follows that the process facilitates growth. Localization is a great way to scale up operations and quickly achieve a global presence.

2: Personalized Shopping Experiences

Localization is all about curating content, products, and services to meet the needs and behaviors of a particular market.

By adapting your store for a new market, you’ll also create more personalized shopping experiences that reduce barriers to sales and help to boost overall conversions.

3: Rank Highly and Build an International Search Presence

Did you know that localization will help you rank more highly on SERPs (search engine results pages)? If your content ranked highly at home, moving forward with international SEO will provide you with even more website visits and, thus, potential customers.

4: Fast Order Fulfillment

By localizing your eCommerce store, you’ll be able to fulfill customer orders more efficiently. Simply transferring your at-home inventory strategy to a new market won’t always be enough – regionalizing your inventory strategy is a must.

With a regionalized inventory management system in place, products can be quickly dispatched to your overseas customers from local warehouses for faster deliveries.

Components of an eCommerce Localization Strategy

As we’ve just discussed, eCommerce localization is about much more than just translating your web pages and commercial proposal into a different language. Businesses need to ‘translate’ more than the words on the page and adapt everything from local currency to imagery for the new market.

Let’s take a look at the seven core components of a robust localization strategy.

1: The Domain

If you’ve got a standard “.com” domain already, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it will work just fine everywhere. Whilst it’s true that the ‘.com’ domain is suitable for global commerce, it’s worth conducting some further research on domain receptivity.

In some countries, shoppers will respond better to a local domain. Why? Because a local domain can appear more trustworthy and familiar. A great way to address this issue is to add subfolders, subdomains, or country codes to your eCommerce site domain name.

2: The Currency

We’ve all been there. We’re online shopping, find the perfect item, and then realize the product is listed in a foreign currency. Chances are that puts you off making the purchase, right?

If you can’t find the product available in your local currency, you’re likely to abandon that sale. Many customers feel unsure about purchasing in foreign currencies due to worries surrounding conversion rates and potential credit card fees.

An integral part of the localization process is to convert storefront prices to the local currency (based on the most accurate foreign exchange rates). This prevents cart abandonment by allowing customers to safely make payments in their own currency.

3: Payment Options

As well as allowing customers to pay in their local currency, it’s also important to offer customers their preferred payment options. Digital payment preferences can vary across regions and countries, so keep this in mind when localizing your eCommerce site.

For instance, customers in one region might prefer PayPal and Apple Pay, whereas customers in another region may prefer direct bank transfers.

One example of this is the Netherlands, where the most popular online payment method is a platform called iDEAL which facilitates bank account-based payments for online transactions.

4: The Price Point

Whilst we’re still on the topic of money, let’s talk price points. When you start selling abroad, you’ll almost certainly need to adjust your original prices. You can then incorporate this information into your DCF modeling guide.

In order to protect your profit margins, it’s important to factor in the additional costs like shipping and duties that come with international eCommerce.

But it’s not just about factoring in costs. When marketing overseas, it can also help to create region-specific offers and discounts that will drive engagement and conversions based on the buying habits in that region.

5: The Language

As we discussed at the start, when we think of localization, the first thing that comes to mind is translation. After all, nobody is going to make a purchase from a website in a language they don’t understand, right?

In order to understand your product and place trust in your brand, customers need to be able to connect with your business in their own language. And that means translating your online storefront for foreign markets.

Make sure that all of your content, CTAs, product pages, and marketing materials are professionally translated. High-quality translations that incorporate local idioms, sentence structure, and grammar are signs of a business’s legitimacy and professionalism.

6: The Imagery

You might not think so, but imagery, as well as language, can be perceived differently in different places. Whilst a picture can speak a thousand words, you should still be wary of how the visual shorthand you use will be interpreted in different contexts.

Take the color red. In the United States, red has largely negative connotations. A harsh red line indicates deficits or plummeting stock prices, a red sign on the door conveys danger. In China, however, red has strong positive connotations, indicating joy, luck, and prosperity.

So when managing your localization strategy, images and other visual elements might need to be tailored by region for optimum engagement – you might even consider conducting some user experience tests, too.

7: The Support

The final localization element to consider is customer support. This includes everything from calls to live chats to reviews. It’s important that customer support is accessible to consumers in all of your commercial zones.

When launching your brand overseas, you might need to consider the following:

How to Localize your eCommerce Website?

You’re almost ready to go. Before you start localizing your eCommerce store for the international market, consider these essential final checks.

Conduct a Market Analysis and Identify your Customers

Before anything else, take a step back and conduct a market analysis. There are plenty of useful website analytics tools like Google Analytics that will help you track customer buying habits around the world. Do some market research to identify your target consumers and understand their needs.

Account for Cultural Elements

Once you’ve identified your target demographic, you have an opportunity to get to know them really well. Become familiar with cultural elements like idioms, humor, popular brands, and units of measurement before launching your products and services in the new region.

Adjust your SEO

Familiarize yourself with local SEO by conducting keyword research for a particular country or region.

What are customers searching for, and what search terms are they using most often? Find local search terms and incorporate them into your localized content.

Keep Branding Consistent

Whilst it’s important to alter your content for the local market, make sure to keep your branding consistent in the process.

eCommerce localization/brand consistency - Transifex

Your brand identity should still be very clear. Elements like your brand logo, colors, and fonts should be kept the same to reduce potential confusion or mistrust.

Adjust Shipping Options

Make sure that shipping costs and VAT are displayed clearly for your customers and provide overseas clients with an accurate delivery time estimation. Transparency is key.

In order to provide timely overseas fulfillment, you might also need to consider updating your logistics and fulfillment strategy and/ or opening new storage facilities or fulfillment centers to meet demand.

Localize and Grow!

One of the best ways to scale up your eCommerce store is to take your business overseas, with eCommerce localization being part of the process.

Thanks to the rise of internet commerce, there are fewer barriers than ever to taking your business global, but it’s still crucial to adapt to local markets.

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Yauhen Zaremba
Yauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc, all-in-one document management tool for almost all types of documents. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year. 
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