On a global scale, more and more people like to shop online. This is no surprise as members of the "digital native" generations grow up and enjoy a higher spending power.
Available data seems to underline this trend: According to a recent study by eMarketer, the UK’s percentage of E-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales will reach 18% by 2018, up from “just" 11.6% in 2013. Other countries such as Germany, US, and France will also clearly be in the double-digits. While there are still big differences between countries, only a few people doubt that E-Commerce business will overall continue to gain momentum.
What do these trends mean for you as an E-commerce store owner? Well, you’ve already done at least one right thing: You’ve opened your own store. Congratulations! But that's not where the story ends. If you are reading this article it is very likely that your store’s main language is English.
Yet, a large proportion of your potential clients in Europe and Asia do not speak English. In fact, most consumers in these parts of the world would probably understand a few words, but only few would prefer English over their mother tongue. And...as long as your store only offers English as a language option you will not appeal to this large and growing demographic. In other words, if your goal is to sell globally and appeal with your brand to a wider audience you should think about setting up localised versions of your website.
In our opinion, you should start as soon as you can. Having a Shopify store makes things relatively easy: For example, you can install a number of apps (for example "Langify" or "Panda") which automatically translate your web page into the language of choice, most often using free translation services such Google Translate in the backend. While most of these apps do a good job and provide an easy fix, it’s not necessarily the one that comes with most benefits.
We highly suggest to get a separate top level domain and to translate your website by a real human being rather than by an algorithm or machine. We call this process "creating a localised website". The London-based fashion accessories brand GILBANO - one of our clients - has implemented this strategy: Their UK web page is built on Shopify and their German site is also built on Shopify as an exact replica only with a focus on German-speaking demographic.
If you need more time to consider how cater for your international clients, consider the following list of benefits and disadvantages of having a stand-alone, localised Ecommerce store:
- localised web pages can be adapted to local preferences (e.g. images, language, etc.).
- localised top-level domain (e.g. instead of yourdomain.com/fr, simply yourdomain.fr).
- improved performance in Google.
- more flexibility: ability to manage content, products, and collections independently.
- ability to accept payments in local currency (e.g. offering a client in the US only the option to pay in British Pounds will certainly not improve your conversion rates).
- ability to better target specific countries via Google Search Console as explained by Google in this article.
- additional monthly Shopify fee (min. $29USD - see Shopify pricing).
- additional monthly app subscription (if you have any).
- additional workload related to managing two Shopify stores (however, there are apps to minimise potential pain points).
- potentially need for continuous language support (we can help)
For us, the verdict is clear: With a little extra work you can become a lot more successful selling online and appeal to a much wider audience. And if you are in for the long term, you will certainly reap the benefits of having a truly localised web page.
If you are reading this article and think you need help with launching your Shopify website in German, Italian, Spanish or French you can reach out to us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
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