How to address the actual needs of global ecommerce: interview with M. Kostykowski
Today the technology for selling products internationally is available to businesses of all sizes. This availability, however, does not mean that it is a straightforward task to give e-sellers an affordable solution that will bring them millions of extra revenue.
In particular the localisation process is far from simple and the costs of tools and translation can be a real blocker for many sellers. Selling internationally does not mean that you simply translate your offers and wait for foreign customers to flock to your website. In fact, you need to take care of translation, ensuring low international shipping rates, currency and size conversion as well communication with foreign buyers and local marketing.
The full website localisation process could be a real pain for online sellers… if they wanted to do it on their own.
Not to mention the costs and the fact that new needs and more demands regularly arise on the buyer’s part. All this could efficiently distract online business owners from what they should really focus on: business management and growth.
The number of global online buyers willing to buy goods from abroad is growing. International online transactions are on the increase. Hence, more and more online sellers are deciding to offer their products on foreign markets. Vision, predictive powers and thinking ahead are key features of online sales pioneers.
Webinterpret well understands the importance of an online sales solution that is affordable and makes the complex localisation process simple and effortless. We want every online seller, not only big players, to have the chance to multiply their income by selling internationally. Even better, thanks to cross-platform listings and online stores, we want every seller to grow their global sales, including international AND domestic sales. We finally have the answer how to do so.
How to develop a product that addresses the current needs of international online sellers? We talked to Marek Kostykowski, the leader of the Product Department at Webinterpret.
Interview with Marek Kostykowski
We’re already 3 months into 2016. What is Webinterpret’s Product Vision for this year and has everything been going according to plan thus far?
Marek: So far, so good. Being a leading Cross-Border Trade solution, we’re constantly working on our product, improving its quality and functionality. Our current aspiration is to become the No.1 global selling platform. Even though it is challenging, we have always gone to great lengths to democratise and facilitate global sales.
Our package is all-inclusive. We want to allow any online business, irrespective of its size, to sell globally on any channel: marketplaces, online stores, social networks and comparison shopping engines. Webinterpret’s platform provides a comprehensive global package: from listing and shipping management, world class localisation to multilingual communication and marketing.
How would you like to facilitate processes for Webinterpret’s current and prospective clients?
Marek: The good news is that now there is a frictionless solution available to global e-tailers and we have demonstrated that we can provide them with one. The fact that we will help sellers with their global sales growth is a real step forward. Here, I’d like to emphasise that integration and convenience are at the core of our recent undertakings.
We want to handle cross-platform listings as efficiently as possible. This means that listings from any source, for example an online shop, can be replicated onto another platform, such as eBay or Amazon. This integration will save you from juggling between multiple sites, and there is an extra benefit. It can multiply your income, not only on foreign markets, but also on the domestic one.
What improvements are of utmost priority at present?
Marek: In the past our product was a 100% effortless solution. Sellers didn’t have to change their workflow whilst we were working in the background. In other words… sellers didn’t have to do anything except for proceeding with additional international orders.
Of course, we want to keep our solution as effortless and efficient as possible from our clients’ perspective. However, we want to tweak it a bit. Some sellers prefer more control over the internationalisation of their listings, prices and which products to list in which countries. So, we are giving them customisation options.
For example, if sellers have specialised shops, they may want to use unique, specific terminology. This is why translation can be customised according to our clients’ very specific needs. Additionally, we can now offer a repricer feature. Sellers can give the price range within which they want to compete with other shops. Depending on competitor prices, our system will choose the optimal price to maximise our client’s chances of making a sale.
Our goal is to make our customers successful on a global scale. So we want to provide them with all the technological solutions that will make them able to compete globally with any retailer.
In light of what we’ve discussed thus far, what are the main factors driving current changes at Webinterpret?
Marek: As I said earlier, firstly, we will adjust the effortlessness of our product. We will continue to provide our customers with a solution that is “set and forget”, but at the same time we will give sellers the possibility of customisation.
Secondly, we want to create a system that is easy. Hence, our Reputation Manager, the WISS Programme and the general All-In-One-Place rule. We know that many business owners would prefer to focus on strategy rather than on admin and operations so we want take a load off their chests as much as possible.
We know that many business owners would prefer to focus on strategy rather than on admin and operations so we want take a load off their chests as much as possible.
Finally, we’re always working on the overall improvement of our product and services. We listen to customer feedback and take it from there. We’re very serious about how our clients evaluate us, collecting their opinion via detailed surveys as well as analysing the NPS (Net Promoter Score) results. All departments are involved in improving the product and customer experience so it’s a highly integrated and cooperative process.
This all sounds very promising. But how about the challenges?
Marek: One of our major focus points is translation quality. Striving for the most efficient and accurate listing translation, we’re constantly improving our solution. What is challenging is the general perception of computer-assisted translation. After all, don’t people like to mock and spread some telling examples generated by machine translation? Yet, by no means is this a good comparison.
For instance, in the past we would use humans to convert sizes from one country to another. We had a lot of critical errors due to human errors despite the fact we are hiring professional translators that are well trained. When we taught the machine to convert sizes based on brands, we did not have errors anymore.
Today we can also see that in most competitions, such as chess games, computers are winning against humans. So saying humans can do a better job than machines means rejecting progress. We believe that mixing human expertise with continuously teaching the machine how to accurately localise product listings is the key to delivering consistent quality.
Saying humans can do a better job than machines means rejecting progress. We believe that mixing human expertise with continuously teaching the machine how to accurately localise product listings is the key to delivering consistent quality.
How about consistency and accuracy? It sounds a bit counter-intuitive that machines can be more accurate than humans.
Marek: Machines can produce more repetitive and consistent content. If, let’s say, machines are properly programmed with specialised vocabulary in a given product category, they will always work in an accurate and consistent way.
Compare it with human translation: the same phrases are likely to be translated in a different way by different human beings or can be inaccurately reproduced. Additionally, one person can specialise in car parts, but may be confused about fashion terms. This will not be a problem for a machine since a good automated system will be programmed with what a human being can be potentially confused about.
Still, whilst we offer automation, we recognise the importance of the human element, even in the case of computer assisted translation. For this reason, we have opened a new office in Barcelona where our R&D Department with world-class linguists and machine translation experts ensure the best quality of translated items. Also, our Quality Assurance Team is responsible for continuous quality checks and constant improvement of our machines and translation resources.
The processes and improvements you’ve mentioned today must involve a lot of work and engagement. Who’s behind the development of Webinterpret’s Cross Border Solution?
Marek: Our Product Department that consists of 90 people with utmost talent. These are product owners, developers, designers, testers and our Quality Assurance Team. Our work ties in with actions of other departments in the company.
Altogether, there is a mix of people of various professional and cultural backgrounds who create a very unique work atmosphere. Our environment is fast-paced, requires a lot of flexibility and is buzzing with ideas.
Finally, what would you say about the opinions that Webinterpret struggles to keep the product working properly? There have been a few challenges you’ve had to face…
Marek: We’re an eCommerce startup company working in a very fast-changing market. It is necessary to provide new solutions and new answers in response to new needs and new challenges. So constant learning is a must, not only for individual companies but the eCommerce industry as a whole.
It’s true that we’ve had a few challenges, but we have learnt a lot since we launched our product and now it is more mature, structured and consistent. In the beginning we focused on providing a solution that would work fast and bring results immediately, using somewhat limited resources.
Now, on top of a solution that brings immediate results, we can offer our customers a better interface and a better-quality, integrated product. Hence, I’d like to dispel some myths that can be found online, because the majority of our customers have managed to increase their sales effortlessly and the company’s fast growth provides evidence to this.
It is necessary to provide new solutions and new answers in response to new needs and new challenges. So constant learning is a must, not only for individual companies but the eCommerce industry as a whole.
We trust that the key is to move in the right direction. What is our direction? A one-stop shop for your global online sales. Our product integrating multiple platforms is a huge achievement in this regard. And the best thing is… this is only the beginning on our path to make global commerce accessible to all businesses
On a final note, I’d like to say that Webinterpret has a surprise for its clients, but unfortunately, we can’t give it away at the moment. If you’re curious, though, stay tuned and we will soon reveal what we have in store!
Further Reading & Sources