Retail Marketers: Gearing Up for the Holiday Season

Judd MarcelloBy Judd Marcello, Vice President Marketing, Smartling 

The last thing most people want to think about in these waning days of summer is the holiday shopping season, but the holidays are top of mind for retail marketers right now. While many folks are happily sipping a frosty drink at the beach or pool (or sitting in cubicles daydreaming about doing so), you are probably putting the finishing touches on your holiday marketing strategies. And, it should come as no surprise that one of the top things on your holiday wish list is to appeal to prospective, multilingual customers around the globe – to boost online sales!

According to a June report by consulting firm Accenture and AliResearch, the cross-border e-commerce market is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020. The report also states that the popularity of cross-border online shopping will increase to $994 billion, with China leading the way.

These predictions make the business case for why you should devise and implement marketing strategies that resonate with multilingual shoppers – consumers who will increasingly look to make online purchases if they can’t find the product or goods that they seek in their local markets.

However, time is of the essence – Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here before you know it. The most effective approach to attracting and retaining global e-commerce customers is to translate and localize websites and mobile applications.

Translation and localization enables companies to engage their target audiences with high-quality multilingual content that fully reflects the way customers and prospective customers live, act and communicate. In fact, a 2014 survey showed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if the information is presented in their own language.

Are you ready to boost e-commerce sales overseas this holiday season? Here are some tips to help you get you get started.

Step One:  Where do you want to reach & what do you want to translate?

 Job number one is to decide which markets and languages you want to target for translation and localization. In what country or region is your best growth opportunity? Would you like to increase sales among shoppers who speak Spanish, French or Italian? Or, are you looking to capture the attention of those who speak Mandarin Chinese, Farsi or Swahili?

Whatever your growth objectives, contrary to what you might think, you should first concentrate translation and localization of your content in countries where you already have an existing customer base. This allows for a phased approach, essentially giving you a built-in focus group that will help you test and ensure that your multilingual content is high quality and properly localized.

Once you’ve identified your target languages, it’s time to select the content you’d like to translate and localize. Think carefully about the products and goods multilingual shoppers may be most drawn to based on their lifestyles, cultures and what they may not already have access to in their local markets.

Step Two: Make shoppers feel at home

To ensure truly successful launches of your translated sites, going beyond translating text from one language to another is critical. One way to ensure this is through localization and transcreation. Localizing your online store will make sure your translated text is sensitive to cultural nuances, while implementing transcreation will add another layer (by way of creating entirely new content) for the right cultural fit. Remember, when you are slowly building your brand out internationally, the last thing you want to do is to confuse, or even offend, potential new shoppers.

Step Three: Go Tactical

Finally, localized product reviews from customers within the geographical region you’re targeting can be very successful. To get the process moving, you might want to incentivize the first round of reviews with a special promotion. Taking advantage of social media can also help you reach new international shoppers. Just be sure to create a separate Facebook page for each of your target locations.

If you want to engage multicultural customers around the world this holiday season, provide them with native-language websites, mobile applications and other digital content that truly “speaks” to them.

About the Author: Judd Marcello is the vice president of marketing at Smartling, a New York-based translation management platform company.