Thanks to the internet, businesses are expanding their global presence. Ecommerce reaches beyond borders, opening companies to customers outside their “home” nations. A US company might venture into Canada or Mexico while a German manufacturer sets sights on the European Union, and so forth across the seven continents. As such, the demand is surging for multilingual tools to help sellers connect with these new customers.
Studies have shown that roughly 65% of customers prefer to use e-commerce websites that “speak” their native language. This is true not just for the retail sector but also for B2B customers who buy from manufacturers and distributors. English, while widely spoken worldwide, is by no means a “universal language” for potential customers. Research also shows that 40% of global customers will not buy in a language other than their own.
Think about it. Aren’t you more comfortable making a purchase when you can read and understand all the information presented, from the landing page to the checkout screen? Marketers talk all the time about engaging customers through “personalized conversations”. When a company invests in doing business in the languages of its customers, it makes a statement that it wants to overcome cultural and language barriers and greet customers on their terms.
Trials and tribulations of translation
Content managers understand the challenges of managing product information for just one language. Each additional language added to an ecommerce platform multiplies the amount of work required to sustain it. A few of the primary roadblocks include:
- Volume — The ordeal of channeling products through a translation service, editing and quality checking, and then publishing
- Syntax — Rules of sentence structure
- Idioms and colloquialisms — Including slang, jargon, words that have different meanings in different countries, or varieties of the same language (such as French vs. Canadian French)
Think of the confusion created by a misplaced comma in the price of an item. Or the dismay of an American who orders a pair of pants from the UK only to receive undergarments, not trousers! And many slang expressions literally do “get lost in translation”, which can be troublesome when converting customer reviews.
Content translation must be done methodically and carefully. Few companies can afford to have a full staff of in-house polyglots to review every piece of product information that passes through. Marketers need a way to efficiently process, maintain and publish multilingual content to create an equally excellent customer experience across all its websites. A Product Information Management (PIM) system designed to support multiple languages is the most effective way to manage multilingual content.
Benefits of PIM
At its core, a good PIM offers:
- Ease of use for in-house staff and outside content sources, like manufacturers
- Ability to interface with back-end systems such as price files and inventory
- Ability to handle metadata and SEO tags
- Serve as a single source of truth for product content, images and other assets such as manuals
- Scalability to grow with the needs of the business
Layered approach — How multilingual PIM works
Generally, a PIM’s supported languages exist in parallel layers, starting with a base language. Using English as the base example, if an American company wanted to add a Spanish-language store to its ecommerce site, it would convert the English content to Spanish — most likely through an outside translation service or a MT (Neural Machine Translation service akin to Amazon Translate) in a Spanish layer. The new Spanish content would still require a human review to ensure that the translated material was factually correct and readable.
By standardizing common phrases (such as “Batteries not included”), the company builds a glossary of translated words and phrases that can be reused indefinitely without additional cost. Preset choice lists (for colors, sizes and other attribute values) can be translated and applied so that “blue” appears as “azur” in the Spanish context. The layers operate bi-directionally, so that a change in the Spanish layer will either translate to English or be flagged as an exception. The PIM also allows users to compare language layers for a given product to simplify editing and review. Once established, each layer can accept imported content. Keep in mind: the human reviewer factor remains necessary forever.
The initial content migration from one language to another represents a significant amount of time and money, but the payoff is an ecommerce site that invites and engages the new customer base, builds their trust and drives revenues. A PIM is the smart way to go international with your e-commerce.
Agility PIM Speaks Your Language
Agility PIM supports content localization and allows marketers to output multiple languages for web, print or any other channel. Powerful and easy to use, Agility PIM interfaces seamlessly with translation platforms. It allows side-by-side comparisons of the base and translated languages with highlighted copy and attribute changes for easy editing and review. Translators and in-house content developers can preview translations in channel-specific context prior to publishing to ensure that the customer-facing presentation is both accurate and localized.