Anja Jeftovic
Jul 10, 2019 | 6 min read

Localization, Internationalization, and Globalization

Localization is a process of translating content, changing currency, pricing, and providing customer service to meet the linguistic, cultural, and legal requirements of a specific market. 

Internationalization, also known as i18n, is the process of setting up your website, design and content layout and preparing it for localization.

For example, you should prepare your E-commerce website design – layout and color scheme, as well as images to suit each new market individually. Each country is different, and following the tradition and culture of each can help you better position your business. As a result, you will earn the trust of your customers and drive more sales.
And finally, globalization encompasses them all – it’s the process of taking your business to the global market with the help of localization and internationalization.

What Localization Means in Business

To best understand localization let’s start with an example.

Let’s say you have an E-commerce website written in English. If you were to use a direct translation of your content into French, using Google Translate or similar service, your customers might end up lost in translation (pun intended).

The context of the sentences might be lost, the date would be formatted incorrectly, prices and currency would not be applicable for that market.  

When you localize your content, you are adapting it to fit the local market. This means your content, your software, and your customer support – all need to be translated and adapted for a specific market. 

The main goal is to make it easier for customers from that area to interact with your brand.

Benefits of Business Localization

With localization you will remove cultural differences and gaps between markets, so you can successfully expand your E-commerce business and sell your products across borders. 

If you are thinking about going global and localizing your website for specific markets, but you are still not 100% sure, here are the four main benefits of localization for your business.

#1 – Open New Opportunities

There are hundreds of available markets out there, why limit yourself to only one?

By internationalizing your site and making it ready for localization, you open your business to new markets and a flow of new sales opportunities. You may even find out that your product or service is especially popular in another market.

#2 – Increase Revenue

Expanding into new markets is essential if you want to grow your business – not just in reach but also in revenue. For proof, take a look at the S&P 500. According to their Foreign Sales Report for 2017, foreign sales account for 43.6% of their total revenue. 

#3 – Build Closer Customer Relationships

Another great benefit of localization is that it allows you to form better relationships with your customers. Providing multilingual customer support for your customers will allow you to communicate in a more authentic manner and be more sensitive to other cultures. 81% of consumers said that they want businesses to get to know them and understand them better. This is much easier to do when you’re speaking their language. You can either hire multilingual reps in-house or you could decide to outsource your customer success.

#4 – Provide Better Experience than Competition

If your competition only operates in one market, you can gain a big advantage by reaching out to other markets. For example, if you and your competitors are both based in the US, but they are only operating in English, you can potentially reach thousands of potential customers if you localize your business for Spanish or Chinese. 

An important part of localization is having prices presented in the local currency. 67% of online shoppers abandon a cart if local payment options aren’t available and 82% of consumers are more likely to buy if promotional materials are in their own language. 

7 steps for a successful localization strategy

E-commerce localization requires the right strategy. You need to cover all your bases to ensure you’re providing a quality experience, no matter the market. So before you get started, you should develop a plan. 

A successful localization strategy will address the seven key components. They are:

  • Internationalization

Internationalization lays the groundwork for your localization efforts. You need to design your website and products in such a way that they are optimized for use with different languages and markets.

  • Content translation

You need to translate any content that you have into the language of the market you are targeting – website copy, blog articles, shopping cart buttons, etc. Make sure you get a native speaker or someone who knows the language really well, so the context and intention are not lost in translation.

  • Currency and pricing

According to one survey of 30,000 online shoppers from all over the world, 92% of them said they preferred to shop on websites that display their local currencies. You need to have a system in place that will not only translate the format of different currencies (From $ to €), but that converts the actual numbers as well

  • Payment methods

Research what payment methods are popular in the target market. For instance, while PayPal or Mastercard might work in the US, European shoppers may prefer to use iDeal or PayOne. You also need to make sure your mobile payment UX works for each new market, as many consumers prefer to do shopping on their phones

  • Shipping

Offer automated calculation of shipping times and fees, based on your customer’s location. Offer different options, so your customers can choose what suits their needs (fast shipping with additional fees or regular shipping without fees)

  • Taxes and regulations

You need to follow the laws and regulations of the country you’re selling in. For example, you will need to properly add Sales Tax if you’re operating in the United States, and the Value Added Tax (VAT) if you want to sell in the EU. 

  • Customer support options

Offering customer support in the language of your customers is a major advantage for the business. Choose the tools that can help you optimize your customer service. For, example with Helpcrunch you can easily send automated greeting messages in for customers in different countries. You just set up criteria like “Browser language” and your automated message will appear in that language.

Following these steps will help you better understand what the important aspects of localization are so you can prepare for the expansion of your business. 

Let’s justify these with an example.

Coca Cola launched the “Share a Coke” campaign back in 2013. With this campaign, Coca Cola added messages like “Share a Coke with Jack” or “Share a Coke with Jill” to each of their bottles. This encouraged people to use Coca Cola as a way to connect with others. However, they went beyond doing this in just English speaking markets. 

To spread this campaign globally, Coca Cola had to localize their slogans. For instance, in China it’s bad manners to address a person by their first name, so Coca Cola changed their messages to be more along the lines of “Share a Coke with a friend”. 

Had they not localized, they would have had a harder time getting a foothold in the Chinese market – much like KFC did when they directly translated their slogan from “Finger-licking good” to “Eat your fingers off”. 

Importance of Business Localization

When going global, it’s important that you present yourself as if you’re coming from each unique market. By implementing business localization, you will improve your customer relationships, provide them with a better experience, and ultimately generate more revenue. To cut costs and jumpstart your E-commerce business localization you can hire outsourced customer success reps from LTVplus. Hiring outsourced agents will help you with providing the best customer experience and support for your customers. You are meeting their needs on their own terms, earning their trust and creating brand advocates who are loyal to your brand and products.

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