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Yuliia Honcharova
Senior SEO Manager at Gepard
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eCommerce eCommerce Strategy eCommerce trends

eCommerce Localization Strategy 2022: Stay Local, Going Global

10 min read
October 18, 2021

eCommerce localization strategy is one of the best ways to manage the global market. If a company does work effectively on a local level, it will be much easier to compete on an international level. Especially online. 

In this article, we’ll explain what localization strategy in eCommerce is and why it’s important, review localization requirements and give you advice on how to create an effective content localization strategy for your business, according to 2022 eCommerce trends. 

What Is eCommerce Localization Strategy

eCommerce localization strategy consists of creating the utmost user-friendly experience for consumers from different countries and developing unique brand perceptions for each target audience due to language and cultural adaptation of websites and promotion campaigns.

 A transnational strategy is a plan for businesses that want to carry out their activities overseas, which means examining business operations, assets, and product management in each country where the manufacturer/brand operates. In simple words, businesses should create excellent buying environments and offer localized products for specific groups of customers, one for each group. 

For example, product localization and brand management for American, African, and Japanese markets should be entirely different: from website designs to product presentations and even goods. In Japan, there are more than 200 flavors of Kit-Kat chocolate, but in the USA customers are able to buy only 20 of them. 

What Should eCommerce Localization Strategy Incorporate?

Tips For Smart Brand Localization

There are four important steps to create smart brand localization for international markets.

1. Deep target market analysis

Local market research must be conducted before product localization processes start. You have to fully understand special aspects of the chosen region, its unique market features, laws and taxes, target audience preferences, and cultural sensitivities. 

In the beginning, it’s worth looking through Google Trends, studying marketing and advertising reviews from famous brands. Professional deep market analysis takes time and money, but it’s crucial. 

Some of the largest websites with business statistics and market analyses are:

You may use them for eCommerce localization to analyze a market by yourself or hand over creating an international strategy for your business to professionals in each specific region you want to operate.

2. Language specifics as part of the content localization strategy

Even if consumers speak the same language, brand managers need to perform deep semantic analysis of all the company’s offers. Words can have different meanings in different markets, and it’s important to consider them for localized products

For example, “pants” means two different classes of goods in American and British English. 

It’s hard to check out all language nuances if there are many regional dialects in the country. One of the best examples of localization challenges is India. It is one of the most promising, yet the hardest markets to enter in this way. There are more than 1.3 billion people who speak 450 dialects. English is the official language, but 90% of people prefer to speak their local languages.

Content localization best practices include not only the proper translation of product descriptions but also adapting visual content to the local market and even changing the layout and design to accurately display the translated information. Using the correct local formats of data, addresses, and phone numbers is also important.

3. Purchasing habits and behaviors

Consumers don’t need fur coats in Egypt, even if your business offers the best in the whole world in its production. 

Brands need to create a personalized client’s journey for everyone and keep in mind all regional spending habits and behaviors. It’s a bit more than just cultural features and differences—it’s what customer experience is made from. 

4. International SEO aspects

International SEO is the process of making a website more visible for search engines and optimizing it the way they easily identify in which country their customers are. 

This process aims to target people from specific countries or speaking specific languages. Moreover, international SEO is not only about making your website accessible to those countries/languages but also taking into consideration local purchasing habits and possibilities.

So, how to make your store more visible and accessible to customers from a targeted country? There are 10 steps to do it right:

1. Choose the right URL for your store. Indicate the target country starting from the address. For example, you’ve got a fashion store for customers from Spain. You should choose the domain name ending with .es, e.g. fashion.es.

2. Add ‘hreflang’ meta tags to your store pages. This tag indicates the language version of a website, letting search engines know about your localization efforts. Let your SEO specialist handle this for you. More basics on the topic are here

3. Provide all content in your target customers’ language. eCommerce stores could partner with local content service providers to cover this easily. Learn more about content service providers here.

4. Make deep keyword research and analysis an ongoing repetitive activity. There are different popular keywords for each market. The perfect SEO strategy that was made for a specific region can be ineffective for another one. Use Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, or Semrush to perform analysis, taking into account the characteristics of each region. 

5. Keep an eye on competitors. Every week (or month), track and analyze your competitors’ activities: what is new that they are doing, what positions they have obtained in Google, etc.

6. Conduct thorough technical optimization. It’s not only about using tags and meta tags, titles, and descriptions. It’s also about handling product schemas, optimizing core web vitals (like page speed and accessibility), etc. Users can’t see these things, but they’re crucial both for search engines and store scalability.

7. Check website usability. All pages must be user-friendly and easily accessed from any gadget and any browser. Here are some recommendations by Google on how to reach it.

8. Don’t forget about link building. External and internal links have an impact on website ranking. But it’s important to use links only on quality websites. 

9. Add some expert content. As we said earlier, content is king. If the texts and articles on your website are good, people will find and read them and will browse product pages after that. If not, SEO will not work even if anything else is brilliant.

10. Communicate with your customers on social media. SMM supplements SEO and multiplies its results. But it’s important to create a separate page in Facebook and Instagram for each market you work in. 

Automate Your eCommerce Localization With Gepard PIM

Localization Strategy Pros and Cons

Pro 1. Rapid penetration in local markets

Local product makers have one major competitive advantage over big international brands. That is, they sell goods in the target audience’s native language. 

Thanks to an effective international strategy, it became much easier for big businesses to build trust with potential clients. Even a translated website will generate sales, as content is the king of marketing. 

Pro 2. People buy goods in their native language

The statistics clearly show why localization is important: Comtec agency in their research about website localizations contests that 75% of people prefer to buy goods in their native languages—even if the quality of translation is pretty poor.

It means that a brand’s website translation in the native language of the target audience is the first thing to do when a business expands to a foreign market. Understandable offers mean notable sales. Apart from delivering the correct product information in the local language to your customers, you will also decrease the cost of customer support.

Pro 3. Local currency matters

92.2% of consumers buy goods only in their local currency. If your website has no convenient payment method and doesn’t accept local money, most of the potential clients won’t even consider purchasing something on your site. 

Localization strategy helps to cover all target audiences and not only those 8% of consumers who don’t mean to convert currency.

Con 1. However, eCommerce localization can’t be done half-heartedly.

Implementation of transnational strategy needs time and resources. Even routine website translation can take up to a few months and more than $100,000. But localization is much more. It’s about creating unique brand management for each market. 

If it isn’t good enough, all resources are wasted and managers have got to start again or abandon this market.

eCommerce Localization Best Practices 2022

Think globally, act locally. It’s the motto of 2021. The current situation on the global market shows that more markets lead to more profits. Such diversification makes a business less vulnerable and helps to develop it even more.

And next year, this trend will become even more important.

How to Start Your eCommerce Localization

How To Start eCommerce Localization

1. Start just now. The sooner you kick off building your international strategy, the more chances to be better prepared for new challenges and trends and to outpace your competitors.

2. Learn everything you can about the target audience, from cultural and religious traditions to spending habits. To provide effective eCommerce Localization, you need to perform as deep an analysis as possible. The best way for big businesses is to order social research from local companies.

3. Study local competitors. Content localization best practices include creating a better shopping environment for a specific target audience. It’s OK to get ideas from already existing market projects. It’s important to know about international brands working in the market and about small local competitors. You should pay special attention to how small businesses communicate with their target audiences. It’s important what you say to your potential clients, but it’s also significant how you speak with them.

4. Localize content for websites, products, advertising, and pages in social networks. Do not just translate, but create a unique way of communication built on the performed analysis. And it is not just about simple website translation. You have to localize offers and texts and documents.

First, legislation is different in different countries. And when you come to the local market, it’s important to create a privacy policy with terms and conditions that are in absolute compliance with local laws. Second, during the content localization process, you need to replace irrelevant examples referring to other countries or brands that are not on this market. Goods and services should also be localized. And be careful with jokes and wordplays.

5. Leverage product information management (PIM). Only the biggest international corporations can afford their own marketing team for each market. So PIM solutions are great for any medium and big e-commerce company. PIM is a single system for data gathering and storage and management. It helps to create an effective transnational strategy with no confusion in product experiences. PIM solutions control all shades of communication with clients even if there are 20,000 goods in 20 counties. It is clear and strict.

Examples Of Brands’ Remarkable Localization Strategies

Netflix Localization Approach

One of the world’s leading streaming services, Netflix can boast of its remarkable localization marketing. Netflix adjusts the published content to specific “home” locations of the targeted audience. Knowing that viewers’ preferences are influenced by their country and language, the service commits to providing subtitles translation for different demographic groups, ensuring that the audience can enjoy the movies and series as if they were in their native language.

Such a localization strategy should be considered when you deliver products and services worldwide and want to deliver a unique experience to different local audiences. Netflix’s attitude towards content creation illustrates how seriously they take localization marketing. Over the last couple of years, they have been working on original Netflix content such as series, movies, and documentaries focused on the social, political, and environmental issues of various districts all over the world.

A bright example of such video content is the Queen Sono crime drama series, featuring the life of a highly trained South African spy, handling criminal operations while coping with the problems in his personal life. The production has been publicly praised for its resemblance to the ordinary life of post-colonial African residents.

Coca-Cola Localization Strategies

One of the biggest soda drinks producers in the world, Coca-Cola, conquered the Eastern market with its marketing tailored to the personal tastes of local audiences.

The iconic drink in Japan was launched in two new packaging bottle sizes: 350 mL and 700 mL. The new recyclable packaging was targeted firstly at the individuals (350 mL) and smaller families that are mostly living in Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures (700 mL). The company stated it was an ideal size “to take home”.

A part of its localization processes is installing Coca-Cola vending machines around different locations in Japan. The company introduced a bottle-free option for the locations with the highest plastic consumption rate, meaning the buyers could get a drink into their own container. For those who do not own one, reusable bottles are offered for sale from the very same vending machine.

In 2018, Coca-Cola released special slim bottles, with the regional designs for Osaka & Hakata, Niigata, Shonan, and Hida prefectures of Japan. Featuring the landmarks of the country, the campaign was made to promote inbound tourism and to be used as a souvenir for travelers.

Japanese Coca Cola Slim Bottles

What’s more, the Coca-Cola company targeted Japanese coffee drinkers with its own “&Drip” coffee machines. Localized mobile marketing is another great example of Coca-Cola’s localization strategies. Its application “Coke ON”, downloaded more than 28 million times, helped the buyers connect with the vending machines through their phones and was a great example of direct-to-consumer marketing tailored to the personal tastes of the highly technologically advanced Japanese market.

Apple Business Localization

The world’s most desirable brand, Apple, has positioned its products as simple yet some of the most stylish and expensive ones. Steve Job was behind the marketing campaign called “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” that characterized Apple products as oversimplified and at the same time sophisticated computers.

With the right product localization, Apple turned out to be one of the largest companies in the world, walking hand in hand with such tech giants as Google and Microsoft.

While the company’s local marketing campaigns did well in the West, Apple had to localize it, in order to earn the same success on the Eastern market, in Japan, where it’s not endorsed to downgrade your competitors.

Get A Mac Apple Campaign Japan

Actors from Japanese “Get A Mac” Apple Campaign

Apple did not simply translate the local marketing campaign for Eastern countries. The company hired two comedians to play in a noteworthy movie called Rahmens. Ordinary computers were portrayed as a perfect fit for formal settings while Mac could match with the people’s desire to have fun. The local audience admired the commercials. Apple would definitely fail if they only translated the advertisement. On the contrary, the company found a way to localize it and adapted the commercial considering the cultural and demographic differences of their target audience.

Product Localization Strategy FAQ

Why is localization important for brands who plan to go international?

90% of income in foreign markets depends on it. Product localization strategy is crucial for brand promotion. It helps businesses to succeed in the international arena, expand their business activities, grow brand awareness, increase sales, and outgo competitors. 

How do you create an international strategy?

Create an international strategy by performing a deep analysis of spending habits, cultural features, and social metrics of your chosen target audience. Or give this task to a local company that knows the product localization requirements in the specific area. 

How can you improve your localization strategy in 2022?

Once you’ve learned all the reasons why localization is important for eCommerce, you have to work out a proper product localization strategy.  Personification and quality will be the main trends of brand marketing in 2022. Also, PIM solutions can help you automate a lot of data-related tasks, enhance your product content and save your time and resources for more creative business projects. 

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve learned what localization strategy is, you cannot question its importance. However, the best examples of localization always involve a lot of tedious data-related work that slows down your team and requires a lot of resources.

With the Gepard PIM application, you can not only automate your product data processes but also connect to numerous eCommerce platforms, expand your business and pursue your product localization goals. 

Ready to conquer international markets with effective product information management? Book your free personalized demo now.

How To Build A Successful eCommerce Localization Strategy

Yuliia Honcharova
Written by Yuliia Honcharova
Senior SEO Manager at Gepard
17+ years in Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM. Driving the strategy, planning, and execution of the company's search marketing initiatives to achieve its international business objectives. Created and implemented Digital marketing and SEO strategies for businesses in varied domains including eCommerce.

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