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We sell children's clothing online and want to get more international customers. Should we localize our website for other countries or not worry about it?
The question of whether or not to localize your online presence is best answered by knowing your international market, your short and long-term goals and the strength of your brand.
If you have a strong, globally recognized brand, then chances are you can do business online in the short term in spite of not having localized content, and you may already be seeing international online sales via your English website. Luxury clothing brands, for example, are readily sought after in-market because of their globally recognized brand value – and international consumers may be more forgiving about the lack of a localized experience in the earlier stages of local product launch. By focusing your international sales efforts on markets across the world that have a strong understanding of English, you may be able to achieve some international growth in the short term.
However, the greater the competitive landscape in-country, and the more sophisticated the economy, the more it matters to local consumers that they have access to localized content, particularly when you have an eCommerce site and are trying to drive online purchase behavior. The CSA’s study in 2006, refreshed in 2014, called “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy,” found that 60% of international consumers, regardless of English language ability, rarely or never buy from English-only sites. And interestingly, countries with a higher understanding of English, but with more mature economic and competitive environments, can be even more demanding of an authentic localized experience.
For example, if you’re targeting western Europe, you may find that providing a high-quality localized online experience will make the difference between success and failure.
If your ultimate goal is to grow your international customer base, then localizing your content will be necessary. Not rushing to localize everything, however, is also advisable. Translating your website gets you an online presence, but it’s the baseline and doesn’t in itself drive user engagement and sales. Working with a localization partner that can help you determine the market opportunity and plan your localization strategy will help ensure that you get results out of your localization investment.