How to Translate an E-commerce Website: Guide 2024


Table of Contents

Website translation is hard. It’s a complex process. It needs planning. It needs time. But it’s crucial. Especially for businesses.


For those who sell online. This guide is for you. It will help you reach far. To places unknown. To people who don’t speak your language.


Let’s start!


Why need E-commerce Website Translation services?


One word, growth.


Translation equals expansion. It’s going global. You can reach:


  • Unfamiliar territories
  • Different markets
  • Different people


There is some good stuff ahead. Here’s why you should play the translation game:


Reach Global Customers


It starts with customers. They are everywhere. They speak different languages. So, you need to reach them different way.


That’s why you need us. Desource Translation is a Professional Document Translation Services provider.


Global customers can be local. If your website speaks their language, you connect with them. Draw them to you. Open your arms. Embrace them.


Boost Website Traffic


A translated site works wonders. It lures visitors. It calls to them. In their own language. More languages mean more web traffic. It’s that simple. Do you want it? Of course, you do. Draw them in. Draw them all in. Wherever they are. Whatever language they speak. Gather them to your site.


Enhance User Experience


Better experience equals loyal customers. How? It’s translation again. It makes site navigation easy. It makes content understandable. Customers get the product. They understand the service. Product details make sense. Trust builds up. It compels them to buy. It drives sales. It’s easy. Translation equals better user experience.


Gain a Competitive Edge


What makes you special? Offering more languages. It’s your superpower. It separates you from others. It singles you out. In the crowd of e-commerce. It’s your mark. Stand tall. Stand proud. Stand global.


Translation is a key. It opens many doors. For your e-commerce site. It offers you a lot. Much more than challenges. There will be hurdles. But the finishing line is glorious. So here’s to winning the race. To growing. To standing out. And to embracing the world.


Challenges to Prepare For


There are problems. Every process has them.


Translation is no exception. It has its own hurdles. We’ll address them. Tackle them head-on. Let’s delve in.


Linguistic Nuances


Words are tricky. They have meaning. They have context. And they’re different everywhere. Humor? It’s not always funny. When you change languages. Pop culture references? They might get lost. They won’t make sense. Then there are idioms. They make sense in one language. The other language? Maybe not. We must translate carefully. Respect every nuance. Change language, not the feeling. Not the message.


Technical Compatibility


Translation is tricky. It’s not just words. It’s technical too. Text expansion issues may occur. Some words are longer in other languages. Long words mess up layouts. Another problem? Encoding issues. These can ruin texts. They can make them unreadable. So, quality is important. Quality checking is crucial. Check rigorously. Recheck. Make sure everything is fine.


Search Engine Optimization


SEO is key. Remember? It attracts traffic. But it’s not easy. Keywords are tough. Rankings are tough. They differ in languages. They differ in regions. Each needs its specific optimization. Multilingual SEO, it’s a thing. And it needs a lot of time. Lot of research. Lot of expertise. Never underplay SEO. Not for translations.


Cultural Sensitivity

We care about feelings. We don’t want to hurt. But symbols may offend. Images may offend. Content themes may offend. They may be fine at home. But not elsewhere. Somewhere else, they maybe are offensive. Localization is important. Know the culture. Respect the culture. Be sensitive. Be considerate.


Best Practices for Translation Success


Follow these key best practices when translating your e-commerce site:


Work With Native Linguists


People translate better than machines do. Prioritize people who natively speak the target language. They understand subtle cultural nuances best.


Adapt Design Sensitively


Carefully review visual content across cultures. Images and colors can be seen differently across regions. Show visitors you made an effort to understand their culture.


Mirror Website Structure


Keep menus, structure and layout the same across translated versions. Don’t let changes negatively impact user experience.


Phase Content Translation


Break up translation into chunks. First do product listings, categories, checkout flows, etc. Identify priority pages first.


Set realistic schedules and budgets. Translation takes time and money. Quality translation is worth the investment. It leads to more sales globally.


Understand regional differences


Spanish changes across Latin America. Budget for regional variations. Don’t use one “Spanish” translation everywhere.


Review translations carefully before publishing


Proofread thoroughly. Check spelling, grammar and style. Confirm no details were lost in translation.


Update translations when source content changes


Don’t let new details get lost. Use translation management tools to automatically alert on content changes.


Work with professional linguists and translators


Avoid Google Translate and DIY solutions. Machine translation often fails to capture meaning and nuance correctly.


Linguists translate text accurately


Specialized translators adapt terminology appropriately within different fields. Together they deliver high quality translations.

Provide context to help translators


Explain goals and details around content. Describe target customer demographics. Share glossaries of key brand terminology.


Set a clear localization strategy


Decide which languages and regions to prioritize now and in the future. Rank based on current sales and growth potential.


Don’t cut corners to save money


Translation quality impacts sales and conversion rates. Professional translation generates returns that outweigh the investment.


Test translations thoroughly before launch


Recruit native speakers from each target market. Have them use the translated site to confirm clarity.


Plan to iteratively improve translations over time


No translation will ever be perfect. Expect to refine quality continuously based on user feedback.


Celebrate small wins while pursuing larger goals


Even launching basic translations is a step forward. Let perfect be the enemy of good enough.


Localization never ends


Languages and cultures continually evolve. Maintain commitment to understanding customers wherever they are.


Build internal translation skills and capacity


Grow in-house linguist teams long-term. Combine with external translation vendors for now.


Treat translators as partners, not vendors


Build relationships between internal stakeholders and translation pros. Collaboration drives better outcomes.


Maintain brand voice and tone consistently


Don’t let translations stray too far from source meaning and style. Localize without losing brand identity. Missed details undermine credibility and professionalism. Every error chips away at customer trust. Eliminate mistakes through rigorous quality checks.


Languages change over time


Slang terms and phrases come and go. Update outdated translations to stay culturally relevant. Don’t let sites get stale.


Customer needs dictate translation priorities


Don’t jump on every new language trend right away. Let customer usage and revenue guide decisions.


Give contextual guidance, not orders


Explain why certain terms and phrases matter to the brand. Enable linguists to make informed choices.


Avoid false fluency assumptions


Even fluent speakers may lack needed vocabulary in specialized domains. Verify subject matter expertise.


Great translations feel completely natural


Native speakers engage easily with localized content without realizing it came from another language.


Build a collaborative community between linguists, product owners and other key stakeholders. Together decide on an approach before writing translation briefs.


Celebrate translations done well


Thank linguists who faithfully capture source meaning. Find opportunities to recognize efforts, big and small.


These practices ensure translation helps, not hurts, the customer journey. Customers like sites in their own language. Match customer location to language. Use location services or user choice to determine language.


Step-By-Step Guide to Website Translation




Follow this phased playbook to methodically translate your e-commerce site:


1. Set Concrete Goals


Outline what success looks like upfront: which languages to support, traffic and sales targets, timelines, etc. This drives decisions.


2. Take Content Inventory


Document all text, images, videos and other site elements for translation. Organize by priority based on goals.


3. Translate Prioritized Pages


Kick off with high-value pages like product categories and descriptions. Get core content powering business live first.


4. Set Up Redirects


Use 302 redirects to forward visitors from old URLs to translated pages, ensuring no broken links.


5. Integrate Payment Systems


Check for region-specific requirements around payment options, currencies, taxes, and compliance early.


6. Test Translated Site


Thoroughly quality check translated pages for correct meaning, formatting, links, and cultural factors.


7. Launch and Iterate


Go live at scale after testing. Continuously localize new content and refine translated elements.


Check each box to steadily work towards a multilingual site driving international revenue.


Cost-Effective Translation Tips


Small businesses can reap translation benefits on a budget with two smart approaches:


1. Prioritize Vital Pages


Translate mission-critical rather than peripheral pages first. Focusing on 10-15 priority sections can drive huge impact.


2. Mix Human and Machine Translation


Use affordable machine translation for secondary content, and invest in professional linguists for key pages influencing user experience.


Savvy selective translation keeps costs manageable without compromising quality where it matters most.


Success stories of websites that used translation well


  1. Amazon: Amazon started selling only books locally. They later grew into the largest global online store. Amazon translated their website and apps into many languages. This gave customers convenient shopping in their own tongue. It helped Amazon expand worldwide. It increased their buyers and sales globally.


  1. IKEA: IKEA is a furniture and home store. They sell affordable and simple designs. IKEA translated their website carefully for each new country. They adapted content to match local culture norms. This helped IKEA better understand overseas buyers. It helped IKEA build brand loyalty globally.


  1. Nike: Nike makes popular athletic shoes and apparel. They launched foreign language websites early on. This removed a top barrier for overseas buyers. More foreign customers could now browse in their native language. Nike saw increased foreign sales soon after. Their global reach expanded faster thanks to translation.


Lessons learned from translation challenges


  1. Steigenberger Hotels: This company runs luxury hotels globally. They aimed to automate translation to lower costs. But machine translation quality was very bad. So they switched to human expert translators. This gave better accuracy to convey their brand. It taught the value of quality over quantity. And human touch instead of machine-only.


  1. Aerzener Company: This firm makes industrial equipment. They required translation into 20 languages. This complex project had high coordination needs. All site content updates also needed quick translation reviews. They learned to budget more upfront. And to implement strong workflows from the start. This enabled long-term content and translation management.


Frequently Asked Translation Questions


Here are answers to some common e-commerce translation FAQs:

What are the main website elements to translate?

Focus on product listings, category pages, blogs, FAQs, checkout flows, menus, tags, metadata, alerts and error messages.

Can I use translation tools instead of professionals?

Machine translation works for simple static text but still makes mistakes. Have linguists review machine output instead of wholly relying on it.

How do I avoid losing rankings when translating sites?

Follow best practices for multilingual SEO including using separate URLs, tagging translated pages, and optimizing keywords locally.

What’s the right number of languages to support?

Evaluate your target countries and traffic sources. Begin with languages like Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic that maximize reach.

How do I adapt my content across cultures?

Respect local customs and traits. For instance, some Asian cultures prefer more indirect and positive language than blunt Western phrasing.

What payments and currency options should I offer?

Provide both global and local purchase options. Allow customers to pay in their currency rather than forcing dollar conversion.


Final Thoughts


Translating your online store unlocks immense new potential. Use this comprehensive guide to grow your e-commerce empire globally. Follow the step-by-step process for maximum impact across key languages and regions.

Go beyond borders to maximize customer value through an localized experience speaking to foreign visitors in their own tongues. The opportunity awaits – now get out there are grab it!

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