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How Your Shopify Ecommerce Site Can Thrive In A Global Marketplace

A person using a laptop to manage their Shopify ecommerce site.

eCommerce gives local businesses the opportunity to sell to global customers, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a sale. Launching overseas isn’t exactly easy, even in an untapped market, so you’ll need to consider how you’ll remove localization barriers on your website.

What is Localization in eCommerce?

eCommerce localization is when brands take their existing content and personalize it for different markets. Localizing eCommerce makes your website more accessible to buyers who may not speak your local language, use your currency, or recognize your web domain.

What are the Benefits of Localization in eCommerce?

While localizing your eCommerce site takes a lot of work, the benefits are worth it:

  • Increased Market Share

With a translated website, you can access more people who speak that language. This gives you a competitive advantage in local markets.

  • International Search Presence

Unless non-English speakers are looking for an English site, they’ll default to a language they’re more familiar with. By translating your website, you’ll capitalize on foreign language search queries and, thus, boost your local SEO.

  • Fewer Cart Abandonments

If you have a regionalized inventory, your customers won’t abandon their carts as often due to high shipping fees or currency confusion.

  • Easier Personalization

Digital personalization can increase customer satisfaction and conversion rates because shoppers are more engaged with your site. Plus, your customers will feel like your website caters to an international or global audience.

  • Faster Growth

Companies with a deep localization framework canoe faster than average because they can market to foreign audiences more effectively. 

A typical eCommerce localization strategy will include location-specific domains, currencies, payment methods, product pricing, languages, imagery, and customer support. Your US-based website should look completely different when someone with a German IP visits your site.

Remember that you’ll only receive the benefits of Localization if done well. Use professional translators and cultural specialists when designing a website with localization features.

6 Tips on How to Localize an eCommerce Website

To thrive in a global marketplace, start localizing your eCommerce website, but be mindful not to stretch yourself too thin. 

Have one demographic in mind when utilizing the following tips.

1. Understand Customs

Before shipping items, get a handle on customs in different countries. You may want to start with just a handful of locations you’ll sell to and expand from there as you learn more. Each location has its own rules, regulations, and fees. A minor paperwork mistake can cost you time and money.

While researching, I came across Tomedes, a translation company that shared some insights on the process for compliance. Some of the usual translation needs that their eCommerce clients have requested from them are customs forms, bills of lading, and shipping labels. These documents may need to be translated into the language of your target country. Most often, public and private institutions require the documents to be translated by certified translators and notarized by government officials. Other documents you should consider translating are the following: audit and financial documents, certificates, declarations of exports and imports, contracts, refund policies, etc.

The process is similar in most places. An agent inspects the package and documentation. They usually verify that everything matches. Then, if the item’s value exceeds its minimum, they add duties and tariffs. If the customer has already paid for the delivery, customs will release it. If they owe money, they collect payment first.

2. Do Market Research for Expansion

Disregarding market research is one of the biggest eCommerce mistakes you could ever make, as Localization isn’t just about translating your content. You need to pay attention to cultural nuances, international trends, and customer feedback if you want to succeed on a global scale.

3. Display the Localized Site

Don’t expect your visitors to locate the localized version of your site by themselves because they’ll have a hard time doing that if they aren’t fluent in English. Instead, create a trigger pop-up when a user with a foreign IP address or location visits your site for the first time.

4. Be Transparent With Item Fees

No one wants to pay unexpected shipping fees or duty, import, and export taxes. However, some sites expect foreign customers to charge extra once the shipment is delivered. Always disclose any additional costs upfront to protect your brand’s reputation.

5. Localize All of Your Inventory 

If you’re localizing your eCommerce site, but shipping costs are too high for your customers, consider opening multiple fulfillment centers across the globe. Or, you could work with a third-party logistics company with international warehouses if you can’t purchase your own.

6. Test, Test, and Test Again

There is nothing more embarrassing than a poorly translated website. Not only does it make you look lazy, but it also sends the impression that you’re only interested in making a quick buck. That’s why you must test your website multiple times before going live.

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