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Setting up a multilingual store in 2020

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A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with Trellis Ecommerce and Zonos to talk about running an international ecommerce store in 2020 and what you need to consider if you’re thinking about growing your cross-border sales. 

It’s expected that 900 million people will purchase products online and internationally in 2020 – demonstrating the potential growth for those with an international ambition. 

Often brands think that by offering their website in English and providing international shipping that they’ve got things covered. But, we can’t ignore the numbers – Nimdzi Insights released a study that showed 9/10 people ignored a product if it isn’t localized. 

Eroding the language barrier between you and your potential customers just makes sense. Studies such as the one published by the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) show that on average every €1 spent on localizing your website yields €25 in return.

And recently Weglot customer Jimmy Fairly spoke to us about how within a month of integrating Weglot, international sales were 4x higher and 8 months later they were 6x higher – you can’t help but see the power of website localization!  

During my 30 minute chat with Trellis Ecommerce and Zonos we talked about all of this and a number of other important aspects that you can implement into your strategy that will help make selling internationally as seamless as possible. 

If you want to watch the full webinar and see exactly what we talked about then here it is 👇. Otherwise, I’ve summarized some of the main points in this article!

Your international ecommerce checklist 

Launching into new markets can be daunting, that’s why we put together two phases – what absolutely needs to be done at the beginning and then what you can improve on later.

Phase 1 

1. Multilingual website 

I mentioned it earlier, but a top priority will be making sure you new customers can actually understand the products and services you’re selling. Don’t forget that people will always search for your product in their native language. 

The process of translating your website can seem daunting and you might be right in thinking that when you consider the number of product pages an ecommerce store has. 

But…with Weglot we’ve made going multilingual a completely user-friendly process. With automated features, an easy installation process and post editing features – if all you want to do is launch a multilingual store instantly – Weglot can do that in just minutes. 

With Weglot, you’ll get an instant fast, first layer of automatic translation, displayed under language subdomains or subdirectories (depending on your website CMS) so you’ll never have to manage multiple websites. We’ll talk about the post editing features in phase 2.

2. The legal side 

Sorting out the language side of your website is a painless process. Then comes the legal and fiscal responsibility of selling internationally. 

You’ll need to ensure you understand the tax implications of selling in different countries – that includes for yourself and your customers. Be transparent with the costs your customer might incur in terms of import taxes and shipping costs. 

3. Multilingual SEO 

Selling internationally is the goal which means you’ll need to ensure your multilingual SEO is in place so you’ll be visible in the new markets you want to sell in. 

Weglot has been set up for multilingual SEO which means that not only is the translation side taken care of, but we’ve created a multilingual website solution that translates your metadata and adds hreflang tags to your source code to help you rank higher on search engine results pages – even if the user is browsing in their native language. 

Of course, you may then want to hire an SEO agency in the specific markets you’re selling in, to help ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords for your market. 

Phase 2 

1. Website localization 

Now that you’ve launched your multilingual website – it’s the time to fine-tune things a little further. Such as editing your automatic translations and replacing images on your website based on different markets. 

With Weglot you’re in charge of the quality of translations you display on your ecommerce website. Automated translation is a great place to start and can get you up and running in minutes. 

In phase 2, you can then manually edit these translations, add teammates to help manage translations or even order professional translators directly from the Weglot dashboard. Many of Weglot’s clients do just that and combine all the translation options available. The type of translation you display on your store is entirely a brand decision. 

Then of course, you can replace different images for different markets. For example some countries don’t celebrate Christmas – you can choose to display a different image for those countries, but continue to display holiday imagery for the countries that it’s appropriate for. 

Following on from that point – don’t neglect being more culturally aware for the different markets you’re selling in. Don’t assume all countries follow the same holidays. In the US Black Friday is a huge opportunity for ecommerce merchants, whereas in China it’s Singles Day – tailor offers to each market so all your customers have a more personalized experience. 

2. Currency conversion 

We buy online because it’s easy. Making it just as easy for your new customers as those within your home country is an integral part of selling internationally. 

Drawing on the point of personalization again – adding a currency conversion tool is one of the ways you can give the same customer experience to all of your potential customers. If a customer has to leave your website to check for themselves what the price is in their local currency – there’s no guarantee they’ll come back and make the final purchase. 

3. Payment options 

If a customer gets all the way to the payment page and finds the payment options they’re used to in their home country isn’t available – you might find yourself with a problem. 

Selling internationally means adding the payment options for the specific countries you’re doing business in. The Netherlands for example uses iDeal – an online payment method that enables them to pay online through their own bank, whereas countries like China can now make payments through WeChat. 

It might cost more to add specific payment options, but it will dramatically increase your chances of making sales. 

Launching your international store 

Overall what came out of the webinar was that getting out there and selling online with the basics in check is the first step. You can continue to improve the personalization and localization of your ecommerce store as you go! 

Step 1 – make your website multilingual. Try Weglot for free for 10-days. 

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