Why Localize my Products for International Buyers?

When getting started or planning for cross border trade the thought of localizing for different countries can be a daunting one. Let’s look at why you should do it and why it’s worth the effort. 

We’ll look at some of the data that various companies have pulled together covering this topic over the last few years shortly but to begin with let’s look at it from a potential customers point of view. 

We’ll assume our potential customer is based in Paris, France, a major European capital city renowned for its fashion, food and cafe culture. Let’s call them Charlotte, she’s 29, a professional architect with a busy Parisian social life and a reasonable amount of spare money, and as a fashion conscious lady she likes to use some of that money to buy clothes online . She speaks English like many people in Paris. 

Charlotte is going out somewhere new and up-market with her girlfriends and wants to find a new dress but she doesn’t have time to go out on a shopping trip this week.  So she goes online to look. What do you think she does? Do you think she goes to Google.com and starts searching for “red dresses”? No, she likely goes to either Google.fr, Amazon.fr or CDiscount.fr and searches for “robes rouges” or she looks at what her friends are sharing on Facebook or her favorite brand sites.

Although some marketplaces are actively trying to increase cross border trade to grow their own international sales, the reality is that most of the results Charlotte receives from her searches are going to be in French and local, according to the marketplace or Google’s search results.  

But it isn’t the nature of the search results that forces Charlotte to look at local French retailers. This isn’t something that needs fixing. This is what Charlotte wants! Although she speaks English her day to day life is lived in French and it’s lived with Euros as her currency. This is what she is most comfortable with and will likely only go outside of this comfort zone if forced to. 

Do you want Charlotte to feel like she’s been forced to visit your store? It may be great that you provide something that Charlotte can’t find anywhere else but I expect you don’t want her to feel a little uncomfortable on your site, having to leave it several times to check the exchange rate into Pounds, Dollars or Zlote, and wondering if she orders it will it arrive in time, not to mention how much the shipping will cost. 

This is called out in the data that I mentioned earlier: 

A HBR 2012 study sited that consumers spend 71% of their time on sites in their own language and 72% more likely to purchase in their own language.

An IMRG 2014 study found a 91% increase in conversion for sites that are localised to international buyers. 

A CambridgeFX 2017 study found 86% of UK, 63% of Canadian, 68% of Australian and 80% of German consumers will find products on a USD site and then leave to find them in their own currency. 

The same CambridgeFX study reported a clear majority of between 69% and 85% of buyers from various countries simply prefer the sites they purchase from to be in their own language. 

And all this while Google or Bing can automatically translate websites while you look at them. Consumers simply search for, find and prefer sites that are localized for them. 

About Mark Ellis

Mark is the VP for Growth and Partnerships at Webinterpret, a leading Cross Border Technology company. Before that Mark was leading the operations for eBay's European cross border program. He has over 20 years of eCommerce industry experience, guiding and delivering strategic change in retailers, working with companies such as Dyson, Regatta, Boots and Arcadia Group, leading multi-million dollar programs for industry giants like Dunnhumby and working with small businesses delivering innovative retail solutions.

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