Best Practices for Multilingual Ecommerce Sites

In today’s world any if not all E-commerce websites that wish to have a broader reach need to make sure that their website is multilingual. Being multilingual for businesses is no longer a luxury it’s a necessity. However, for websites selling merchandise online, it’s more than just basic translation from the source language that’s required. It’s necessary to ensure that the content, right down to the ‘call to action’ is all in line with local cultural norms, and with near-native precision. Below we outline a couple of best practices which should be considered if anything a primer to building a successful multilingual e-commerce website.

Addressing customers on your website

While in America addressing John Doe, as John or Mr. John may be okay, in other cultures it’s considered rude. In Europe, people liked to be addressed by their sir name, or family name or perhaps their title. For instance, Mr. Doe or Dr. Doe will be more appropriate. So, for starters, all message templates will have to be personalized accordingly.

The right address and phone number formats

In France, Street or St is written as Rue and precedes the street name. In Germany, the postal code is put before the name of the city. Plus, in each part of Europe, Africa, and Australia the way phone numbers are formatted differ. So, you’ll want to ensure that your checkout forms are customized for customers from each region.

Flow of the written script

People who read and write English are used to seeing the logo of the company is mostly the upper left-hand side of the website because it is written from left to right. Though languages like Hebrew, Arabic, and Hindi, for instance, are not. As a matter of fact seven modern languages may not display correctly if you use traditional formatting. To accommodate these languages a multilingual website will need to rearrange the images, descriptions, instructions, directional arrows, and miscellaneous icons so that customers can comprehend everything. Plus, some cultures use both LTR as well as RTL scrips, i.e., bidirectional languages.

Making room for regional languages

While countries like the United States have one official language, Switzerland has four! Though even within the United States there are Hispanic Americans which account for around 20% of the population. So, you’ll want to make sure that your e-commerce website makes room for more than just the official language. Plus use a language switcher on a page in the header or footer or as an overlay for those visiting the website for the first time.

Get your website culturally assessed

Perhaps this should be the first step, but we’ve left it for the bottom of the list since it depends on the nature of your website. A cultural pre-translation assessment can scan your website to ensure that the content can easily be translated without causing technical issues. Plus, if they are potential issues those can be ironed out pre-translation. It also helps to identify things like images which may found to be offensive to people from other cultures. All of this helps get your website prepped for the actual translation.