Localization Guidelines for e-Commerce Websites: Part One – Getting Started
E-Commerce is not an unfamiliar term anymore, and the rise of the Internet has made us change the way we think and act about shopping. We’ve got used to having everything at the tips of our fingers and it seems like online shopping is all we’ve ever dreamed about. It’s popular, cheap, affordable and accessible – could we ask for more?
Your website is a channel through which you want to attract customers from all around the world. This also presumes you want it to be multilingual, but you have to take the golden rule into consideration. People won’t buy what they cannot read, which makes website localization the obvious step. However, there are some localization guidelines specific to e-business websites, which we explained below.
Analyze Online Traffic and Research the Market
If you own an e-Business, you’ve already done the research on your target markets, but it’s always useful to remind you how important this first step is. Your website analytics can provide invaluable information – from where the interest for your content comes from to demographics and desires of your (potential) clients.
Besides that, researching the foreign market can help you define the niche for your products and business. This should include an investigation of their GDP per capita, number of speakers of certain language, number of internet users and other information that could be relevant to your business.
Now that you’ve done research on your desired markets, it’s time to dive into the practicalities.
Of course, the first logical step would be to localize price tags. That means displaying prices in the local currency, at competitive rates, with the proper symbols and decimal marks as they are used in the target market.
There is also the possibility of displaying them in two or more currencies, which can be very useful and successful, particularly on territories where both local and foreign currency are used.
Address Formats and Addressing Customers
Although every address in the world usually contains the same information, different countries use different formats of addresses and postal codes. Make sure to check the right format for addresses in the target territory.
The same goes with addressing your customers. Maybe it sounds right to you, but the same form of personal addressing may be acceptable in one culture and offensive in another. If you want satisfied customers, it’s important to pay special attention to those kinds of details.
Laws, Regulations and Logistics
Trade regulation laws and legal requirements differ from one country to another, which is why every legal requirement, from the calculation of taxes to information that needs be provided to the customer has to be studied carefully.
The most important thing for your customers, aside from the price and the quality of your product is its shipping cost. Even though it can seriously affect the prices of your products or services, you have to think of the solution for delivering the final product in the cheapest, fastest and the safest possible way.
Successful e-commerce business cannot be built overnight but it starts with a thorough research and examination of the foreign markets and your targeted audiences.
Stay tuned for Part Two in which we will cover the technical, cultural and marketing aspects of e-commerce localization.