Size conversion in global ecommerce: how to get it right and grow your sales

Do you offer ecommerce products with sizes or dimensions in their specs? Do you sell, or are you considering selling, on international online markets?

If your product attributes contain sizes or dimensions, don’t leave listing translation to standard translation tools. Wrong translations can cost your ecommerce store lost orders and returned products.

Standard translation with wrong size and dimension conversion can be detrimental to your online store. Here’s what to do instead.

To sell more internationally, convert sizes

Imagine this situation.

You’re an online shopper from the UK. You want to buy shoes, size 9. The shoes you’re after are very expensive in the UK.

You’ve decided to do some browsing on international ecommerce sites. You’ve discovered that prices are much better in in the U.S.A. and a few European countries. Perfect.

The only problem… You want size 9, but you see 42 or 43 on the European sites. In a similar way, sizes seem to be somewhat different in the U.S.A.

You’re confused by the sizes. You’re not sure if you’ll choose the right one.

Luckily, some sellers have taken your predicament into consideration. They’ve added and clearly marked sizes familiar to UK buyers. Their prices are good, too.

Problem solved: you’ll purchase the shoes from one of those considerate online sellers.

If this problem looks like no problem from your, the online seller’s, perspective…

… put yourself in your buyers’ shoes.

global ecommerce size conversion shoes

The busy buyer will go to those online sellers who show some empathy and respect for the buyer’s time. Those are the sellers who convert sizes for their international customers.

You may think… The online buyer can always look sizes up online. They can always ask. Or they will simply know the difference between sizes in the UK, U.S.A. and Germany.

Unfortunately that’s not the reality in most cases. If you happen to be familiar with international sizing yourself and know conversion charts by heart, you’re probably an exception to the rule.

If you were also prepared to take the extra time to look up sizes, that’s pretty unusual, too. Unless you’re really motivated to buy from a particular seller.

Often the reality is…

The busy buyer will go to those online sellers who show some empathy and respect for the buyer’s time.

Those are the sellers who convert sizes for their international customers. Such online merchants can expect more orders placed at their checkout.

If online shoppers see unfamiliar sizes, in turn, they’re likely to keep browsing. Buyers are in a good position: the market is competitive with many sellers to choose from.

You don’t want to be one of those merchants that are overlooked at the start. However, with today’s competition, any additional purchase barrier on your side can cost you thousands of lost orders.

Making the buyer look up sizes or use currency converters puts them one step away from the ‘buy now’ button.

International ecommerce & sizes and dimensions

Conversion charts translate units of one system of measurement into corresponding units of another, e.g. sizes and dimensions.

Sizes are pretty common in ecommerce listings. For example, Webinterpret checked how many eBay items contain sizes: it’s around 22% of items in the Clothes category per month.

global ecommerce size conversion conversion chart

Conversion charts: example

If you sell products with sizes, standard automated translation can mess up your ecommerce listings/store. It won’t simply pick up sizes from the context. As a result, standard translation tools won’t convert them for foreign online buyers.

Consider the following example. If you’re a British merchant selling shoes in France, size variations UK 7, UK 8, UK 9, UK 10 won’t be translated by Google into FR 41, FR 42, etc.

If French buyers see unfamiliar sizes, they’ll probably abandon the shopping cart.

The bottom line…

Your international return rates may significantly go up and seller ratings down.

The worst case scenario? Returned items cost you money and can even ruin your business.

Sizes in (international) ecommerce

Sizes are common for products from a number of ecommerce categories. Fashion (shoes, accessories or clothing) is probably the most obvious one. However, sizes are part of the specs for many other items, such as figurines and car parts.

For international online sellers it can get tricky. The main reason: different countries, but also manufacturers and individual sellers, can use various metric systems.

To enable foreign online buyers to choose the correct sizes, international conversion charts come to the rescue. Such charts indicate relations between sizes.

international ecommerce conversion charts

Once more for emphasis…

Wrong sizes equal higher return rates, lower seller ratings and less revenue. Unfortunately standard translation tools are unlikely to provide the ability to translate sizes.

This is what an ecommerce-optimized tool should provide. Take Webinterpret’s solution as an example. It translates sizes for marketplace merchants. Additionally, it offers customized size conversion for eBay sellers, which Google doesn’t support.

Webinterpret has over 700 default manufacturers’ charts and around 12,000 custom sellers’ charts. Size translation is configurable by individual merchants.

Furthermore, sellers can declare if they want to translate. Particular brands may have their own conversion charts. In such cases sellers can even provide their own translations.

global ecommerce webinterpret size conversion charts

Webinterpret’s solution as an example translates sizes for marketplace merchants. It also offers customized size conversion for eBay sellers, which Google doesn’t support.

To identify which chart to apply, we check the item’s context: a component name (to detect if size conversion is applicable), brand name, category, sites and seller ID.

Size conversion & product searchability in ecommerce

To reiterate: it may not be obvious for European online sellers what UK sizes refer to. In such cases size conversion is mandatory for ensuring clarity. It’s also essential for improving buyer experience.

But there’s more than that.

Size conversion also affects the searchability aspect of marketplace listings.

Consider a situation when the buyer is searching for a particular type and size of shoes, e.g. Clarks size 8. In the search bar they can directly type ‘Clarks shoes UK 8’. The first search results likely to be displayed will be the listings with Clark shoes available in this particular size, i.e. ‘UK 8’.

However, the buyer searching on eBay FR will probably use the French size, e.g. “Chaussures Clarks 38′ (chaussures = shoes). Not surprisingly, all items not converted to the French size 38 will land at the bottom of the page results.

According to Noemie Colin, Globalization Product Owner at Webinterpret:

Size conversion is an important aspect of the localization process for any ecommerce store. It’s to meet the buyer’s expectations, but also to increase the visibility and searchability of products.

global ecommerce size conversion sweater

It may not be obvious for European online sellers what US or UK sizes refer to. In such cases size conversion is mandatory for ensuring clarity. It’s also essential for improving buyer experience.

Further, Noemie has a piece of advice for sellers creating their own conversion charts via the Webinterpret interface:

I recommend removing the country prefix, e.g. UK, FR. This will improve item visibility in eBay search results.

Some sellers may want to convert sizes, adding country prefixes, e.g. converting “UK 8” into “FR 38”. The version with the prefix, however, will be less searchable than “38” only. “38” will be less restrictive for search filters used on eBay.

Dimensions in (international) ecommerce

Dimensions are any numbers followed by units, e.g. kilograms, inches, centimeters, etc. Google doesn’t support dimension conversion at all.

global ecommerce dimension conversion clock

If buyers don’t recognize the metric, they may not bother to look it up and may abandon the shopping cart.

It goes without saying…

It’s very important from the buyer experience perspective.

If buyers don’t recognize the metric, they may not bother to look it up. Instead they will choose a listing containing familiar information.

We convert around 7% of eBay items containing dimensions per month. We’ve identified different patterns, for example Ø 350 x 25.4 mm, 500kg, 0.5m 1m 2m 3m 5m 7.5m 10m.

In some eBay categories there are restrictions, depending on the conversion and type of product. For example, we can convert inches into centimeters, but in the case of TVs or computer screens, inches will be kept for all sites (English-speaking and European).

global ecommerce dimension conversion

Sizes are not the end of the story. Beware dimensions!

Hassle-free ecommerce translation & localization

Wrong sizes and inappropriate dimensions in your product specs are not what you want. This is not necessarily something that Google Translate and similar tools take into consideration.

But mere translation is not enough to help you sell more on global online markets. What you need is fully-fledged ecommerce localization that, among other things, includes converting sizes and dimensions for marketplace sellers.

Webinterpret’s AI-based solution will help you optimize your localization processes and costs. It will ensure the best return on investment for your online business.

We offer a full localization package for online store owners and marketplace sellers. We take care of all translation, price and size conversion, legals and even international shipping.

Our proprietary Ecommerce Localization Engine enables us to automatically create localized ecommerce sites for thousands of merchants and offer it as a free service.

In short…

We take care of your international sales and you can focus on the development of your business.

Find out more about:

global ecommerce size conversion optimal solution

To maximize your international online sales, you need ecommerce-optimized translation.

In a nutshell

You may have a good product offer that will rock the interest of buyers from abroad. However, a few tiny oversights can break your sales.

One such oversight is a failure to translate sizes and/or dimensions. This may result in the buyer’s confusion, abandoned shopping carts, lost orders and returned products.

Is this potential loss of time and money something your ecommerce business can afford?

To ensure the correct translation of sizes and dimensions in your product specs, ecommerce technology will help you get it right. It’s simple to implement and can have a profound impact on your revenue.

Ecommerce translation & localization: free download

To find out how to translate and localize in a way that sells, download our FREE ebook!

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