How to localize your ecommerce listings in a way that sells: interview with M. Vax

What does it take to sell on international online markets and attract thousands of orders? Well, if you offer great products and deals, good translations of your listings should do the job, right?

But this is not how it works…

Sure, your offers must be translated properly, but there is much more to consider, such as currency and size conversion, communication with foreign buyers and local marketing & SEO.

Thus, you need a solid localization strategy as opposed to submitting briefs to translation agencies.

You can try to sort out all aspects of localization on your own, but the question remains….

Is this worth your time, money and the overall hassle? Are you sure that the end result will be of good quality?

In fact, you could spend this time on business growth. This is where automation comes to the rescue as a time and money saver. Good ecommerce solutions also mean good quality of localization.

  • What is successful ecommerce translation and localization?
  • How to ensure your product is easy to find on international markets?
  • Which keywords will sell your product?

To answer these and other questions, we talked to Michael Vax, Chief Product Officer and international ecommerce expert at Webinterpret.

m vax global ecommerce expert

Michael Vax, Chief Product Officer at Webinterpret

Interview with Michael Vax

Modern automatic translation tools make it easier for online sellers to offer products on international markets. But do such tools actually help sell their products?

Michael: Yes, modern translation tools are helpful for ecommerce sellers wanting to grow their sales abroad. However, there’s a misconception that a standard automated translation will do the job.

Above all, I don’t like to use the word translation as it only focuses on the language component. For ecommerce purposes, localization is a broader term that describes all aspects of preparing your online store for growing international sales.

Ecommerce localization is more complex than finding the best matching words in a dictionary. It’s also about creating customized rules, dictionaries, conversion tables and customized translations for specific categories and brands.

It involves converting prices into the buyer’s currency, displaying and validating the buyer’s address and it accounts for different ways to calculate taxes.

Let me give you a simple example. If you sell clothes, you need to translate product attributes, but also you must localize sizes. Size 8 in the UK may be 4 in the USA and 36 in Germany.


So localization is country and culture specific?

Michael: Yes, localization can be even merchant specific. Merchants, especially larger ones, have their own ways of describing and marketing their products. They may sell their own brands, have specific brand names and color descriptions or use a special slang and writing style. Various sellers, brands and models can have various conversion tables.

Localization is also platform/channel-specific, depending on whether it’s eBay, Amazon, Magento or other ecommerce platforms. Each channel has its own text formating and eligibility rules and proper category and filter mapping must be ensured.

To add to this, you must customize your SEO strategies. Austrians and Germans may speak the same language, but use different keywords in search engines, browsing for the same product. This will affect the discoverability of your items online in those countries.

Ecommerce localization is more complex than finding the best matching words in a dictionary.


How would you define successful ecommerce localization?

Michael: Above all, the goal of successful ecommerce localization is not breathtakingly correct listing translation. Ecommerce metrics of localization success are the same as for your domestic store: they’re about growing sales!

To sell more, you should make it easy for international buyers to discover your product, They should feel comfortable with the checkout process and happy with their purchase. Thus, to measure localization success, look at product discoverability, conversion and buyer satisfaction.

Successful localization will make your products easy to find on foreign markets. It will help to sell your products. It will make the buyer satisfied with the order. This goes beyond the activities carried out by a translation agency.

At Webinterpret we translate and localize your product offer so it’s found by the relevant buyer who decides to order from you. If this happens, we can assume localization has been successful.

A further check could be potential returns. If buyers return your product, the description may not correspond with the generated buyer expectation or the translation may be flawed. The key is to investigate, improve and ensure buyer satisfaction.

m vax expert interview ecommerce


How can you ensure that products are easy to find on international markets?

Michael: Think like a potential buyer, not like a dictionary. The best translation may not be what people actually search for. For example, the translation of a mobile phone from English into German is das Handy, but the keywords Germans enter to buy a mobile may be smartphone, Android, iPhone and so on.

At Webinterpret we came up with an automated solution that translates product offers, utilizing the search terms that buyers actually use. Moreover, when we localize offers on international markets, we take into account our customers’ results. These include the searchability of products, conversion rates and the number of returns.

I’d also like to mention filters. eBay and Amazon use special filters to help buyers find what they’re searching for, e.g. filtering by size, style, color, brand and so on. This way search results will show only the items with values selected by the buyer. So to improve listing visibility, let’s say on eBay, translation should take place according to eBay filters.

Ecommerce metrics of localization success are the same as for your domestic store: they’re about growing sales!


Do you have examples of keywords with the potential to bring more sales?

Michael: Let’s consider the translation of repair kit into German. There are a few correct options that German buyers can use when searching for this product: reparaturset, reparatur set, reparatur kit or reparatursatz.

Our task is to check which keywords are searched for most often in given categories, which keywords generate most sales. So this is what happened in the repair kit case.

According to our results, the most successful listings included reparatursatz. Moreover, we know that this option is usually entered when buyers browse for a repair kit in the Auto / Motorrad category.

Each category has its specifics and you need hundreds of category-specific dictionaries and millions of category-specific terms. If you think about these numbers, you can easily understand why an automated ecommerce solution is optimal for most online sellers.

I’d like also like to stress the importance of keywords in titles. These should be words commonly used on ecommerce platforms and domain-specific vocabulary.

You must also account for potentially different lengths of translated titles. What if the English title is 80 characters long, but its German translation amounts to 120 characters? Which word to drop to ensure conversion? This is what we analyze to help you grow your sales.

We constantly analyze which keywords make sales and localize our sellers’ listings accordingly. The rule is simple: translate and localize in a way that sells.

ecommerce expert michael vax


What is the impact of international ecommerce?

Michael: In the past, the future of countries and societies was often determined by their location on the map and territorial advantage. Today the future is not about geography and national borders anymore.

It’s about Connectography. Connectivity encompasses digital connections, supply chains, virtual communities, communications, Internet cables, highways, railways, airports, pipelines and electricity grids. Connectivity is the key to a nation’s prosperity.

Ecommerce is great for connecting businesses and people. The ability of e-merchants to extend their business to international markets determines the future growth of national economies.

Thus, all online sellers, large and small, must look beyond national borders to expand their business and remove frictions for their international customers.

To be successful across the border, merchants need to localize product content and storefront. Fortunately, thanks to advances in machine learning and translation, ecommerce localization solutions have become affordable for merchants of all sizes.

For instance, by applying its proprietary Ecommerce Localization Engine, Webinterpret is able to automatically create localized ecommerce sites for thousands of merchants and offer it as a free service.

On a final note, I believe that the letter ‘e’ will drop from the word ecommerce. Ecommerce is not a separate business any more: it is part of Commerce.

Ecommerce is great for connecting businesses and people. The ability of e-merchants to extend their business to international markets determines the future growth of national economies.

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