Amazon’s Mobile Localization & Foreign Translation Strategies

The tech giant's localization success in India

Foreign Translation Strategies

With over 1.25 billion residents, India has become the focus of numerous businesses worldwide. However, expansion in the area usually entails complex localization and foreign translation strategies due to the country’s immersive language and culture. India has 22 official languages with Hindi being the most widely used! If your content however is in English, translations may not be necessary for affluent Indians; they speak and read it fluently. But in order to ensure market penetration, brands must be prepared to go into and beyond foreign translation.

An example of a company that has been able to overcome localization risks in India is Amazon. Based on figures released by App Annie, an online analytics firm, Indians installed the Amazon mobile app more often than other competitors in the e-commerce space during the last three months of 2015. But Amazon still has a long way to go in India.

Here is how Amazon achieved this feat, and how you can boost your mobile localization efforts in competitive markets.

Capitalizing on India’s Robust Mobile Market

The company spends a lot of time listening to its customers. India’s smartphone market opens in a new window is currently filled with entry level and mid-tier devices. To cater to this, Amazon India reduced the size of its mobile app in the country by more than 60 percent. Furthermore, the business also deployed a new sign-up protocol for first-time mobile app users. The new protocol is light and streamlines payments made on handheld devices. Since a whopping 70 percent of Amazon traffic comes from smartphones, it makes sense that the brand is extremely focused on a quality mobile experience.

“Starting early 2014, the focus moved entirely towards mobile,” said Amazon India customer experience head Akshay Sahi. “We said we will serve all customers, but focus-wise, what we would build first is the mobile app. Our tech is hybrid, with a mix of native and HTML. What that means is if I change stuff in one place, there are underlying technology layers which will then push the changes to the app and the mobile site.”

Amazon’s localization plans also involved getting rid of features that were not useful for tech-savvy Indians. In addition to a new sign-up process, engineers removed barcode scanning and lengthy payment options. It introduced a cash-on-delivery method for payments, which is the most preferred payment option in the country. Uber, a leading on-demand transportation startup, also recognized the region’s heavy preference in using cash, and offers the payment method to increase its ability to compete with local ride-sharing companies in the area, such as Ola.

Foreign Translation Startegies and Website Design

Amazon’s strategy included a fully redesigned deals page that was specially created for the Asian region. The new deals section in the company’s Indian extension features collaborations with local artists and events. “Deals are disproportionately important in India compared with our other markets. But we realized that our (previous) deals pages aren’t going to work in India, so we took over the deals pages and redesigned it completely, including some of the underlying technologies,” explained Sahi.

In other markets around the world, the brand’s plan closely ties in with foreign translation strategies. At its core, the business provides translated versions of its online offerings in German, Japanese and Chinese. This has allowed the establishment to grow its database of users to over 244 million. Furthermore, around 44 percent of web shoppers go to Amazon for product searches instead of search engines, like Google or Bing.

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