Translate your e-commerce website: 4 tips to pay less for the same quality

Some of your clients are based abroad, so you’ve decided to make the big step: you’re going to translate your e-commerce website into some major languages. The effect? Not only are your regulars going to love seeing their native language, but this will attract new customers as well.

I know, the undecided ones are probably thinking, “She works for a translation company. She has to say that!” Hold on just a sec, I’ve got this article to back me up.

The key figures are:

  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language
  • Nine out of 10 Internet users said that, when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language.
  • Nearly one in five Europeans (19%) said they never browse in a language other than their own.
  • 42% said they never purchase products and services in other languages.

Internationalising (say what?) your e-commerce website is more of an investment than pointless spending, so it’s a good idea. 

Now on to the exciting steps, from a simple idea to the fulfilment of sales-expanding purpose:

– possible foreign web hosting

– choosing subdomain names

– depending on the very structure of your website you will have different requirements – do you have your own team of developers or is it just you and your wordpress? It’s cool either way, but this means things like payment pages will have to be configured by you and a wordpress plugin, as opposed to just saying what you wish to the developers and have them do all the work

recruiting a native – who else will answer queries in German or Spanish?

The part where you don’t have to worry about stuff is where we come in- more on that later.

This is what you clicked for: how do you stick to your budget?

1. Check the content you want to translate

Having your site 100% translated isn’t necessary. Yes, it’s tempting, but not necessary. The results wouldn’t even be spectacular. You probably have some great content, then some good content, then some filler content. Why would you translate the filler content? Translate the great content first. As an example, great can be a popular product, or a category of products. Or which are the products that are more expensive, but would cost just as much to translate as another less expensive product? Something to think about!

2. Optimise that content


This happens mostly by editing things out: checking the Terms of Use/Sale and modifying the terms regarding delivery, so they apply to overseas and not just locally. For products, it means giving up on some distinct, personalised descriptions and making them more standard (which is not bad for SEO, in fact).

As for the type of file to translate: text for CRM emails, product descriptions and the like are the easiest to integrate into translated content, unlike Flash content for instance.

3. Be flexible

Your translation agency will propose different strategies which optimise the translation process. For a catalog containing hundreds or thousands of references, we would need to import them into a CAT tool which identifies reoccurring words or phrases. This means added consistency across the translations, as well as lower rates for translating identical content. If you wish to use translation management tools you have selected yourself, this would be easy to arrange with a translation company which would step in by offering you providers for the languages you need, and rates can be negotiated. However, if the tool you use is not specifically built for translations, or if it does not have the features a true CAT tool does, this means more work for the translator and higher costs.

On the other hand, it would be counterproductive to export emails where the header and footer are always the same, and you only have a few lines to translate. Besides the repetitions and a potentially complex format to deal with, you would also need to spend time reformatting it internally (or accept added costs for hiring an external provider), where, instead, your agency can propose an “all-in-one” package.

4. Choose your translations provider wisely

Letting your secretary translate because she spent a year in Germany just doesn’t cut it. Many people have almost no writing/editorial skills in their own language, or the patience to understand the source text well enough to localise and translate, so I wouldn’t let just anyone translate my website (or make my coffee, but that’s another story).

The key to success is choosing a good translations provider who will take into account your interests, and who also wants to offer you the best quality at the right price. If you happen to receive a quote for the whole of your website, no questions asked, run away!

At Trad Online, we take the time to analyse your request with you. For instance, we were able to help an online clothes retailer refine the content they sent for translation, by alerting them to the fact that, among other things, they were sending us their entire back-office file management and old marketing campaigns. After that the volume they sent us was 30% lower. Result!

A good provider will have good tools as well as good translators on hand – don’t underestimate the backlash a botched translation can unleash on your business. If you choose quality, you won’t have to reinvest in correcting translations.

So these are our tips. If you have any questions, you know where to find us!