Smart Strategies for Overcoming eCommerce Localization Challenges

Guest post 29.3.2022. Reading Time: 6 minutes

With Statista’s forecast that global retail sales will reach a record $26.69 trillion by the end of 2022, the eCommerce industry will yet enjoy year-on-year growth yet again. If nothing else, the global pandemic encouraged consumers to spend more online, ideally positioning eCommerce companies to reap the rewards, especially international retailers with worldwide customers. 

eCommerce companies enjoy great global exposure since they have the ability to target an audience of geographically, culturally, and linguistically diverse consumers. But in order to capitalize on the opportunity, you’ll need to overcome some of the most common eCommerce localization challenges. 

You already know that eCommerce translation alone is not enough to authentically get your message across to new target markets because a localized eCommerce experience offers the best ROI. But truly understanding the languages and cultures of your customers and then adapting your interface according to their preferences can be easier said than done. 

smart strategies for overcoming ecoomerce localization challenges

Defining eCommerce Localization

Localizing is very similar to translation, but it doesn’t simply translate the written content into the target language. It also tackles cultural nuances customers might have. Online commerce localization, therefore, is the process of translating your eCommerce website and adapting the translated content and design features so it caters to the expectations of the target audience you’re engaging with. 

According to the Ultimate Guide to Localization, the need to speak to your customers in their native language is a must for global expansion, as globalization certainly hasn’t eliminated cultural diversity. For this reason, localizing your eCommerce site is the best way to provide your new global audiences with an authentic online shopping experience that caters to their language and cultural expectations. 

Localization Obstacles an Ecommerce Website Might Face

How will you tackle the need for continuous translation? And what happens when you need to promote your multilingual eCommerce site to a new target demographic? The dynamics of eCommerce make it tricky to create effective multilingual UI for your audience. However, with some creative solutions, thoughtful planning, and the help of experienced linguists, you can overcome eCommerce localizing challenges

With that said, let’s delve into some of the most common roadblocks eCommerce sites face when it comes to localizing their platform and the smart strategies they can deploy to avoid these pitfalls. 

Choice of Content Management System (CMS)

The type of tools you use to develop your content plays a critical role in the success of your localizing efforts. There are plenty of good CMS options available, but there are differences among them that can impact the support of the international market. 

The CMS you use needs to be localization-friendly and offer a way to export translatable content in a file format that translation tools can use. Your tool also needs to be able to merge the translated exported data back into the right places in the localized content. 

Smart Solution

If you already have a website that you want to use to expand into other markets, you’ll need a multilingual plugin or a solution compatible with your current CMS. 

If, on the other hand, you’re designing your site from scratch, you need to look at the various CMS that are available out there and compare them in terms of price, features, number of users, and reviews before making your final choice. 

Localizing the Website Design

During the design stage, it’s common to work with a single language when first setting up an eCommerce store. Naturally, this leads to complications and technical design issues when it’s time to translate the original content into different languages. 

You need to ensure that text size and character spacing still work when it’s translated to another language, and then there’s the issue with readability for languages that are read left-to-right. 

Smart Solution

You should also consider using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to keep your site content separate for design. CSS gives you the flexibility to alter website elements without scrapping everything. 

It’s also best to start your translations during the design phase with the help of two-way design integrations. You can create design mockups with integrations from Sketch or Adobe XD and populate them with a few different languages to see what the design will look like with translations in place. 

The best option, however, is to seek professional help. Partner up with an eCommerce translation service provider that caters to all your translation, website design, and customer experience needs.

Periodically Updating Translations with a Translation Management System

eCommerce platforms have to keep their product pages updated to introduce new features or price increases as and when needed. So, for all new content you add, you’ll need to follow the translation and localization process, review the translation, and then update everything in your Content Management System (CMS) platform. 

You might also want to consider implementing a Translation Management System (TMS) to help automate certain aspects of the translation process and cut down the amount of work that must be done manually by professional translators. 

Smart Solution

If you stick to using simple, neural language without too many country-specific and cultural references during the write-up phase of your content, it’ll be much easier to translate for your localized eCommerce site. 

Again, it’s important to work with native language experts that have experience in content creation in order to offer your users a localized experienced. Localization professionals will adapt your content for a new audience while retaining your brand’s core message and identity. 

Creating Marketing Messages with Multilingual Content

Marketing content has to be more than basic translated text. This type of content must be uniquely designed to engage your target locale. So, this is where you might have to vary from the focus phrases you used in your source language and pay more attention to the type of messages that will truly connect with your audiences. 

Smart Solution

This is where transcreation comes in. Transcreation, as the name implies, combines translation and creation and deploys targeted marketing insights to translated content. Since you need to develop content geared towards the interests and buyer stages as well as locales, you need transcreation to add a little extra cultural potency to the mix and build trust in your audience. 

Localization obstacles an ecommerce website might face

Preserving Brand Identity When Adapting to a New Market

Your brand identity is just as much about emotional reaction as it is about the images and colors you use. Just like you need to adapt your marketing materials when targeting a new market, you’ll also need to adapt your brand, all the way preserving its core identity, while still resonating with the new market. 

One classic, yet very modernized way to spread the word fast, ensure instant brand recognition, and target as many customers as possible is by creating and distributing flyers, brochures, or even QR codes for your business. Even the biggest names do it! Find the best online printing services and spread your logo and code all over the target country. This never fails for known manufacturers: the familiarity of the brand’s logo, mixed with the enigma behind the QR code, gives results almost instantly.

As an innovative bachelor’s degree in visual design is teaching us, strong brand identity should show us how things both great and small are bound together by invisible threads. When you think about some of the biggest international brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, it’s easy to see how they’ve maintained distinct international brands with local iterations. Their approach to localizing makes their product seem unique to the target market but still ties back to the core identity of the brand. 

Smart Solution

It can be tricky to adapt the tone of voice for a new market. And the same can be said for visuals. But as with most things related to eCommerce website translation, it’s much easier to do when you start localizing during the design stage of your platform.

You need valuable input from native professionals concerning recommendations for design elements like color and font choices that resonate with the new locale. And once again, this is why working with professional service providers is the best way to overcome or avoid a pitfall like this. 

Lost Keywords During the Translation Process of Your eCommerce Platform

You already use precision-targeted SEO strategies and techniques in your home market. Growing your eCommerce store globally requires the same effort. You’ll need to localize your search terms because some terms might be phrased differently in different regions. Word choices also differ between countries that speak the same language, for example, couch vs. sofa. 

Smart Solution

Translation doesn’t take varying search behavior into account. Local search phrases should start out with developing the best principles in search engine optimization, but this requires a native understanding of what drives local buyers. In-country localizers can assist you with perfecting your SEO strategy for your localized eCommerce site by analyzing customer trends and local search terms that you should rank for.

Wrapping Up

There are various hurdles you’ll have to navigate when it comes to localizing eCommerce websites, and it’s often easier said than done. It’s essential to identify these challenges in time and develop strategies to solve them before you begin your eCommerce translation journey. 

eCommerce translation and localization is a multi-tiered and continuous process, but when it comes to attracting international customers, you need more than just the strategies you used in your local market. 

With effective linguistic tools and a professional language service provider included in the streamlined workflow, you can rest assured that your multilingual eCommerce platform will be as efficient as possible and cater to the native language and culture of your new target markets. 


Milos Milosevic
Milos Milosevic is an experienced digital marketing and communication strategist, based in Bergamo, Italy. He is skilled in search engine optimization, content development, promotion, translation, and localization. He is proficient in English, Italian, and the Western Balkans languages. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.