Why you need to consider localisation before you launch your online store
Designing an online store is a fascinating adventure. Business model, great pictures, convincing products, user-friendly navigation, unique selling proposition – all these steps are equally important to make your online business profitable. But there’s one more item that is often ignored, although it can help to take your store to the international level.
Why is localisation so crucial and why do you need to think about it before you even launch your store?
Below you can find three top reasons.
1. To reach customers from around the world your online store has to be world-ready.
Online stores rarely operate in one country only. Sooner or later online businesses want to appeal to international users as well. That’s when they decide to provide their content in other languages or at least in English.
But before you take this path, don’t forget that English is never enough to attract international users.
After all, “international users” doesn’t mean “English users” or “English-speaking users”. It’s a group of your potential customers with different cultural background who speak many different languages.
Depending on your online store offer and growth strategy, your group of international users will consist of different nationalities and languages.
So, before your online store launches remember to determine the countries and regions you want to target. Even if your website will be localised and adapted to other languages at a later time, for example a few months after the launch.
The reason behind this strategy is simple.
You need to be sure you have the right infrastructure, tools and website design that will support your growth.
And you need to be sure you won’t get tricked into paying a monthly subscription for automated website translation apps offered by your online store platform.
2. To expand your online store internationally your products have to be attractive for the international audience.
Not all products will sell equally well on all your target markets. Customers on every market may have different preferences, wishes and expectations. Clothes that sell well in Spain may be totally unpopular in the Netherlands, and household items trending in the USA may fail to succeed on the Polish market.
That’s why, once you define your future target audience, try to find out what products would appeal to them.
You can do it by conducting a market research, analysing local trends, trending news, popular posts on social media etc. If you run an online clothing store, chances are, your users in every country will prefer specific colours, designs or forms. If you sell electronic equipment, different brands and models might be less or more popular depending on the region.
And that’s why you’ll need to slightly adapt your offer to make sure you can please your customers on the foreign markets. If you know what type of clothes, brands or models are popular in a specific country, you can add more products to your website to increase your sale potential.
You can prepare this tailored offer before you launch your store or expand your product list at a later time. In any case, make sure your store includes products that will sell in your target regions.
3. Before you launch your online store you’ll need to have a bigger perspective in mind.
Your online store may grow rapidly and help you reach your business goals earlier than planned or you may struggle to attract regular customers in the first few months.
In any case, before you launch your online business you have to be ready for all kinds of scenarios. Success and failure are equally probable, and so is the chance that your website will start growing beyond the borders.
Thinking about localisation and the very beginning will help you quickly set off in the right direction when your business is prepared for the next step.
If you plan for more language versions and right tools or processes, you’ll be able to avoid time-consuming and costly re-design of your website at a later phase.
What if your user interface works great for your home market, but to add more language versions you’ll need to completely change the website layout? Or change a platform you use to host your online store?
Have a bigger perspective in mind when launching your store and remember that online businesses can quickly cross the borders of their home markets.
Will you be ready to act quickly to satisfy the needs of your global customers? Will your website be ready to support more traffic and more languages?
Think about the right localisation strategy at an early stage to ensure smooth growth for your online store.
Dorota Pawlak is the owner and managing director of Polish Localisation. She enjoys helping business enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages and technology.
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