The WordPress plugin industry is booming (we would know—we’re right in the thick of it!). The multiplicity of plugins available for pretty much every website functionality you can think of means that there’s always a degree of healthy competition: every plugin developer has a reason to keep updating and improving their product.
Ecommerce is perhaps the exception to this general rule of plugin multiplicity: One particular plugin dominates the scene: WooCommerce is king.
The Six Steps to a successful multilingual WooCommerce store
There are many reasons why WooCommerce is the go-to ecommerce plugin for so many WordPress users (who are themselves numerous—over 34% of the entire Internet is WordPress-based), but its popularity mostly comes down to its comprehensiveness. You can start with a content-exclusive site—like a blog or a photo gallery—and turn it into a fully functional online store with no plugin other than WooCommerce. It’s a one-shot installation that allows you to:
- create product pages,
- process credit card payments (and other forms of payment, like PayPal),
- verify checkouts securely,
- calculate international taxes automatically,
- calculate shipping fees,
- and personalize your store design,
…among other things. But these are probably the six most important functionalities of WooCommerce for anyone breaking into the ecommerce game, no matter what you’re selling.
Ready to take your WooCommerce wares worldwide?
While WooCommerce takes care of almost everything you need to run a successful online business, there is, as in many aspects of life, always room for improvement—especially when it comes to expanding your reach.
Cross-border taxes and shipping rates are included in the WooCommerce package on the store-owner side, so you can rest assured that you’ll always know what your extra costs are when selling and sending your products. And, all things considered, WooCommerce’s large range of compatible themes is diverse and customisable enough that there’s a look and feel for everyone, and for every type of store: you’ll be able to tailor your user experience and interface to your particular brand identity.
However, there’s one key aspect of internationalization for which WooCommerce does not have a native solution, and that’s making your store multilingual.
Fortunately, translation plugins like Weglot are readily compatible with WooCommerce (and all of its specialized extensions and themes). Each of WooCommerce’s six vital ecommerce functionalities can be rendered more effective, efficient, and profitable by making your store multilingual.
1. Product Pages
It’s not altogether surprising that most consumers are less apt to buy a product if they can’t understand the product description. Making sure that your clients in all countries can read the basics of your product descriptions is the bare minimum: a product description is the true sales pitch: it lets your potential customers know why your product is better than any other, so it’s where your copywriting talents particularly need to shine.
Ensuring that your product descriptions are as attractive in your translated languages as in your original copy is key to keeping your international sales consistent with your domestic ones (and, ideally, increasing them). This can be a bit harder than it sounds, though, since copywriting is somewhat of an art.
As a merchant, you know your market better than anyone else—so it’s in your best interest to double-check the translations of all of your product descriptions.
Using a full-service multilingual plugin—like Weglot—to translate your WooCommerce product descriptions is the safest way to ensure that your sales pitch is as convincing in your customers’ native tongues as it is in your own. You can personally edit all of the translations to be certain that they are just as tasteful in your destination languages as in your own, or order the help of professional native-speaker translators—who even specialize in translations for your sector, if you so desire—directly from within your dashboard.
2. Payment processing
Selling on a new market, in a new country, means adapting to a new infrastructure. In pre-digital marketing, this meant learning how to physically diffuse communication materials—so, essentially, where to advertise—then get your product to buyers, and seal the transaction. The key word here is physically: in the digital age, the physical transaction isn’t always as obvious a part of the commercial process as it was before such exchanges could be completely carried out in the cloud.
As a digital merchant, you don’t have a physical counter and cash register; plus, your payments are coming from places where the monetary and commercial infrastructure might be different than what you’re used to.
This is where it becomes important to think about your payment processing capabilities. Even countries that use the same currency and follow very similar online transactional regulations, such as France and the Netherlands, aren’t necessarily structured around the same major payment methods: direct bank transfers, via a Dutch national system called iDeal, are the most popular way of making payments in the Netherlands, whereas France’s online economy relies almost exclusively on credit/debit card payments.
In countries outside of the EU, payment methods may vary even more: in China, for example, WeChat Pay and AliPay have overtaken classic credit cards in terms of market share for payment methods.
Integrating a new payment method can entail supplementary costs for you, the seller—you may have to pay a base installation or monthly maintenance fee, if not a cut of the final payment, to each payment processing company you choose to work with. Study the markets you plan to sell on and try to offer as many of the most widely-used methods on each one, in order to keep your costs as low as possible and your payment process as seamless as possible for all of your customers.
3. Secure checkout
This goes hand-in-hand with offering a variety of payment methods. You evidently want to make sure that all of the payment methods you accept are secure, and won’t compromise either your or your customers’ data to potential hackers.
WooCommerce currently has two ready-to-install applications for fraud prevention: NS8 Protect, a subscription service that you can integrate directly into your store via the WooCommerce extensions store; and WooCommerce’s own Anti-Fraud software, with a basic package starting at $79 USD for a year.
Again, promising a secure checkout to your customers is key to maintaining their trust and encouraging them to convert. But what does the customer’s language have to do with this?
You’ll want to make sure that your checkout page includes a clear section of information about the security of your checkout, and that this section is readable to all customers. Since Weglot translates all aspects of a WooCommerce site—including the entire checkout page—putting this info on your checkout page is a safe bet for you to keep your customers feeling safe.
4. Taxes, taxes, taxes
Another important checkout page element: tax calculation.
It’s true that selling internationally can reel in a lot of revenue and ROI, but it comes with a few catches, including international taxes. The main problem here is generally the accumulation of taxes from different sources—from national or regional sales taxes (as in the U.S.), to national import/export taxes, to VAT, you may find yourself with several layers of taxes to juggle.
WooCommerce has a built-in infrastructure for calculating taxes when selling in other countries, plus a pretty good number of extensions that can help you streamline this process.
Whether you choose to implement the basic WooCommerce tax-calculation solution, or opt for an efficiency-boosting extension (like TaxJar or Avalara), the best way you can double-check the clarity of your tax calculation on the customer side is to visit your own checkout page and ensure that tax info is readily visible.
As long as it’s on the checkout page, you can be sure your tax info will be translated for your international customers with Weglot. And that’s a good thing for your conversion rate—60% of potential buyers abandon their carts at checkout because of “hidden” extra costs, including taxes. You’ll want to make sure that your buyer is informed every step of the way, in their own language—so that they’ve got these costs factored in to their purchase decision before being taken by surprise at the final step to payment.
5. Shipping fees
Alongside taxes, shipping fees tacked on at the end of a checkout process—without forewarning—are one of the biggest deterrents in buyer conversion.
You might think about setting up a shipping calculator on your product pages so that your customers can figure out what exactly they’ll be paying depending on their location. There are also, like for tax calculation, quite a few shipping-calculation extensions you can choose from within the WooCommerce extension repertoire.
So in terms of international shipping, where does going multilingual make your & your customers’ lives easier? No matter whether your shipping costs will show up on your product pagesand/or on your checkout page, you’ll benefit by making sure your buyers understand what exactly they are. You’d be likely to lose potential buyers if they can’t understand what exactly they’re paying 5 extra dollars, pounds, euros, or yen for—so having these pages in translation for international buyers is key.
6. Store design
Since WooCommerce is more than just a plugin—it’s somewhat of its own WordPress universe—it naturally has an entire range of specially-adapted themes that allow you to set up a store without having to design from scratch.
You can take your site design in any direction with WooCommerce, depending on the style of the theme you choose. And the good news for international WooCom-merchants is that your text can be translated, in full, no matter what your theme is.
The truth of the matter is, of course, that some themes look better in translation than others: their visual structure may be more flexible to accommodate changing text lengths, or they may be optimized for RTL and LTR language switching. Weglot keeps a regularly-updated list of partner themes that we know and trust for multilingual sites; it’s a good place to start if multilingual capability is a priority for you (and at this point, hopefully you’re in agreement with us that it should be—especially when it comes to increasing your conversion rate).
Why go multilingual on WooCommerce?
At this point, hopefully the answer is pretty clear: you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by making your international WooCommerce operation multilingual.
Translating your users’ purchase experience from point A to point Z will ensure that they…
- Understand exactly what they’re buying, and identify with the copy describing your product(s),
- Are reassured about the safety of their payment data,
- Don’t get hit with extra taxes or shipping costs at checkout, without a legible warning,
- And thoroughly enjoy browsing on your site, easily navigating through a well-designed and linguistically-adapted interface.