Localized Language: Time Per Visit and Sales
It's not surprising is it? I find it easier to shop on English-language websites than on French of German or Japanese sites, so it makes sense that French, German and Japanese folks feel similarly. In Europe, 42% of people report that they never use languages other than their own to search or buy products or services. Only 38% "occasionally" do.*
The trend is consistent among non-English speaking countries around the globe†:
- Most non-English speakers do not or rarely buy from English language websites
- People vastly prefer buying intangibles (like insurance, travel, or entertainment) from websites in their own language
- For high price items, 68.8% of whole sample indicated websites being in their own language as important. Looking only at the part of the sample with no-or-low English proficiency, 78.7% indicated language as being important.
- Of the whole sample, 52.4% of the respondents only purchase in their own language
More local-language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of purchase.DePalma Hegde and Stewart (2014)
Localized Payment: Fewer Abandoned Carts
Simply translating a website into the local language isn't enough: people want to be able to use their own currency and payment systems as well†. Localization isn't about hiring a translation service or using one of Google Translate's plugins, it's about enabling your users to learn about your products in their language, view prices in their currency and use the payment systems they're accustomed to.
You know how you're super annoyed every time Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code pops up? That's probably how some of your prospective customers feel when you only take payment methods they don't have and can't get. For example, in Kenya, M-Pesa is incredibly popular because people more commonly have mobile money accounts rather than bank accounts; in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, the Verve card is the standard, outnumbering Visa and MasterCard credit cards‡. Supporting foreign payment systems is challenging, but can broaden your potential customer base.
A Localization Success Story
Wix is a web development platform that purports to make it easy to create HTML5 websites using their templates. In 2014, they undertook a major project to expand their localization efforts. More than half of their 52-million users are located in non-English speaking countries, which they say led them to tailor their offering to "the specific needs of each market". In additional to translating their design templates and customer services resources, Wix lets people pay with their local payment methods, and focuses on localized marketing and distribution.
A Globe Newswire article about Wix's localization strategy stated that the new strategy yielded "significant growth in premium subscription in Russia and Brazil", where their collections grew more than 26% sequentially. The BRIC nations have rapidly-growing and increasingly technology-focused economies, and are key international markets for any company to expand into.
So What's Next?
With the 'developing' world developing ever more rapidly, internet access and use growing throughout the world§, you have prospective customers in radically different timezones, speaking different languages, and wanting to pay with different currencies. It behooves the globally-minded business owner to expand their reach into these new markets.
Over the last ten years, the 'Best Global Websites of 2014' have doubled the number of languages they support. They're not doing it because translation is a super fun way to spend the weekend. Localizing your website increases your appeal to users who speak other languages, letting people pay in their currency, with their payment methods shows that you're committed to supporting your users regardless of where they're located, and can increase your viability in those economies.
We can’t help you localize your website, but we do have suggestions about how to test your localization, once you’ve done it. WonderProxy was designed for that explicit purpose! Check out our localization testing guide to read more about your options!
Supporting Material (and further reading!):
* Common Sense Advisory: “Can’t read, won’t buy: Why language matters on global websites”, by Donald A. DePalma, Benjamin B. Sargent, and Renato S. Beninatto (2006).
An extensive survey of consumers from Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain and Turkey who have made purchases online asked their participants questions about their habits in relation to English websites, attempting to identify how non-native English speakers interact with English language websites, and what impact localization has on their purchasing decisions.
* Common Sense Advisory: “Can’t read, won’t buy: How translation affects the web customer experience and e-commerce growth”, by Donald A. DePalma, Vijayalazmi Hegde, and Robert G. Stewart (2014)
Updates DePalma et al.'s 2006 survey, expanding to cover ten non-English speaking countries. Their results were consistent with the 2006 study.
† European Commission: “User language preferences online”, survey conducted by The Gallup Organization (2011)
Survey commissioned by the executive branch of the European Union. Section 3 focuses on 'Use of a language, other than respondents’ own, for different Internet activities'.
§ The World Bank: Internet users (per 100 people)
Shows the number of internet users per 100 people for countries around the world. The trend is decidedly upward.
‡ How We Made It In Africa: Understanding Local Payment Methods is the Key to African eCommerce Success
Blog post discussing importance of local payment methods for eCommerce in Africa