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3 mistakes to avoid when translating an e-commerce website

Published on May 21st, 2020

With the latest online tools, you can have an e-commerce website up and running in a matter of hours, rather than weeks or months. You can even create a website and upload the content yourself, without writing a single line of code, by using any of the latest publishing platforms.

Speed and convenience aren’t always a good thing for hitting your long-term targets, though. For multilingual e-commerce brands, there’s no substitute for expertise when it comes to creating and translating your website – and this article covers three of the most common mistakes we see online retailers make.

#1: Relying on automatic translation

Today, there are plenty of CMS platforms that make it easy to set up and manage a website without the usual development workload. A lot of these platforms like Sitecore and WordPress also provide translation features that allow you to automatically convert your content into other languages.

You’ll see a lot of WordPress themes advertise this feature, promising to create a multilingual online store with a single click.

That’s a tempting proposition, but it’s going to cause all kinds of problems. Above all, this kind of automatic translation will not deliver the level of quality you need to engage foreign-speaking audiences and compel them to buy your products – the accuracy simply isn’t there.

Likewise, you don’t want to directly translate every piece of content; you want to address the unique needs of each audience and this is why you need website translation services from a professional team of language pros to translate your content with accuracy and adapt your content where necessary.

Automatic translation is a useful tool, but you have to know its strengths and limitations, otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble.

#2: Getting the technical aspects wrong

Another problem with relying on the kind of automatic translation that comes with CMS themes is that they ignore the technical requirements of creating a multilingual website. At the code level, you’re not translating the content on a single page into multiple languages. The process is more like creating multiple versions of your website – one for each language – and then linking them together at the domain or subdomain level.

Essentially you’re managing multiple websites and there are a lot of reasons why you need to take this approach.

First of all, this is the structure search engines like Google need to correctly crawl and rank all of your pages. Getting the technical SEO aspects of running a multilingual website wrong will kill your chances of being discovered by international audiences.

It’s also the most robust structure for delivering content in the right language to users and allowing them to switch between language versions when it’s not possible to pre-emptively select the right language for them.

Another important aspect with the translation of e-commerce websites is having an architecture that allows you to create unique pages and content for each language version of your site and edit them independently. For example, let’s say there are certain markets you can’t deliver too due to the current coronavirus outbreak and you want to add a notice to certain versions of your site or add locally-relevant notices to each version.

This doesn’t work with a single site/page approach.

#3: The build it and they will come approach

A common mistake multilingual e-commerce brands make in the early days is putting all of their investment into building their website and not leaving enough resources for the marketing stages. The problem is, you can’t just build a multilingual website and expect overseas users to find it and suddenly start buying from you.

You need a multilingual SEO strategy, social media presence, paid advertising strategy, email marketing process, customer service system, video marketing campaigns – basically every aspect of your marketing strategy needs translating and localising for each market.

If you’re a multilingual e-commerce brand, you’ve probably made one or more of these mistakes in the past. Don’t worry, you’re part of the majority of companies that come to us looking for help with translating their website. While the idea of creating a multilingual website seems simple enough at first, it’s a far more complex process than you can fully appreciate until you’ve actually done it.

It’s only natural that mistakes are made along the way. The good news is, you can learn from the mistakes of other brands without repeating them yourselves by working with e-commerce translation specialists. To find out more about avoiding the common mistakes and getting e-commerce translation right the first time, please do not hesitate to contact us or reach out to us on social media.

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Posted on: May 21st, 2020