Successful Global eCommerce: Art or Science?

Challenges facing online retailers when selling overseas

Global eCommerce

Many pioneering companies have successfully implemented eCommerce solutions to either augment their existing sales channels, or as their sole sales channel. These companies are leaders in reaping the commercial benefits of the Web. As highly efficient revenues flow through their eCommerce channels, they look at expanding their global eCommerce capabilities — particularly where traditional sales channels costs are prohibitive.

One may say, “But the World Wide Web is global, since everyone on the Internet has access to it.” True, but Internet access and sales are two different things. Research shows that international customers are three times more likely to buy a product if it is available communicates to them in their own language. Furthermore, an eCommerce Web site has to provide international users with the same quick access to information as domestic users, or you will quickly lose their attention.

Companies that have successfully implemented an eCommerce solution in the U.S. and are now looking at penetrating international markets have to deal with many issues before they truly have a global eCommerce solution. The four that they often overlook are: Locale, Process, Performance and Service.

Locale and Language Barriers

English is the language web surfers most widely use over the Internet. But to truly penetrate an international market, one has to communicate in the customer’s language. You can convert web pages to different languages via a process known as web localization. Localization is the linguistic adaptation of a product for specific geographic markets. In addition to the linguistic and cultural challenges that this conversion presents, localizers have to deal with many technical challenges.

As new Web technologies emerge, more options are becoming available to content developers and webmasters. Different file formats, databases, graphics, forms, and software scripts such as CGI and Java are all intermixed into creating current Web pages. Furthermore, to reduce rework, many companies are using dynamic HTML, as opposed to static HTML. They draw information from databases and display it on demand. They build pages on the fly on users’ browsers and automatically customize them to best meet their needs.

Companies involved in localization have to recognize the need to adapt and continuously expand their localization processes. This is to efficiently deal with the requirements of today’s advanced Web technologies. The process has to be organic to allow for changing file formats without sacrificing flexibility to translators or translations already implemented. By no means should the process hinder the ability of professional native translators to adapt the text and pages to meet local requirements. For the process to be effective, it should separate the art from the science. This enables the appropriate resources to deal with each aspect of the process.

Synchronized Global eCommerce Sites

Global e-commerce

Even with the technical and language expertise, how can one guarantee that localized Web sites track the English server on a continuous basis? Webmasters and content developers regularly update thousands of files and data. To be able to synchronize the localized sites to the English one requires a very detail oriented process.

Welcome to the world of enterprise wide eCommerce framework tools opens in a new window. Companies are clamoring to provide software solutions to serve files and manage translation segments. They are customized database and RCS environments that track translatable segments, create connectors with translation environments and rebuild the localized files.

When you are dealing with thousands of files that can be changing on a daily basis, it becomes almost impossible to track and maintain localized web sites without the use of enabling framework solutions. These solutions can either be acquired or internally implemented. But they have to be there.

Mirrored Sites for Global Fast Access and Local Service

Once you localize a site and keep it in sync with the source, serve it to its international users. U.S.-based servers may be too remote, slow or overcrowded for international surfers. The ideal solution is to mirror the site on international servers available locally to their users.

One way to do this is to create servers in all the countries the global eCommerce solution is provided for. However, this process can be costly in hardware and maintenance expenditures. Another way is to outsource this requirement to third parties that are servicing companies in this area. Cloud-based hosting companies are providing a solution to their customers by having servers worldwide available to mirror their sites. For a fee, they host, manage and maintain the sites as necessary.

Delicate Balance

Closing business is very important, but satisfying customers is the key to repeat business. Your global eCommerce solution may need to provide a pre and post sale service for returns, refunds and questions. Make sure you think through this aspect.

Companies often win business by paying extra attention to the needs of their customers. Once an eCommerce site is successful in conveying that attention, it is proven to drastically cut down sales expenses. Those who pay extra attention to details and invest up front win in the long run and save.

With this concept in mind, do not forget to customize information to cater to the international user’s way of life. Customized forms, currencies, tax, date and time structures, contact information, payment methods, text entry, pertinent information, and a host of culturally sensitive details all need to be implemented appropriately for the different countries. This needs to be done even when the language does not change. The human touch in the sales process needs to be present at all times, regardless of the channel in use. Again, it is the right balance of art and science that will make you successful.

Translation Company USA

If you are looking for local translation services or a U.S. translation company, identify one that can be a long term partner for you. It should also be able to address the many localization challenges that you will encounter.

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