Localization: The Key to Maximizing the 2020 Holiday Sales Season

November 1st, 2020

This year, more then ever before, people are turning to eCommerce for their shopping. With Black Friday and the holiday sales season approaching, retailers need to improve their localization if they want to maximize their end of 2020 sales.

win this black friday sales with localization

We all know the holiday sales season is important for retailers. For some sectors, the last couple months of the year bring in a quarter of the year’s revenue. But this year’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even Christmas won’t look like last year’s. Don’t worry Tiny Tim, people will still buy gifts. However, Covid-19 has changed our shopping patterns.

Recently, we’ve seen huge annual leaps in the percentage of shopping being done online for Singles’ Day in China, Novy God in Russia, and Christmas or Hannukah all over the world. And this year’s shift to eCommerce will likely dwarf them all. Throughout the globe, people are staying home, or at least avoiding crowds. That means turning to the internet.

Going Online. Going Global.

Total eCommerce sales are expected to grow to $4.5 trillion by 2021. Customers are realizing that, once they go online, they’re not limited to local options. In fact, 57% of online shoppers have bought from outside their own borders. They can go to Etsy for traditional handicrafts from around the world, or Vitacost if they live in an area without a local health food store. They’re not even limited to US brand pricing anymore, since things like inexpensive lighting and home goods are available from China at Alibaba’s international site, AliExpress. For you, as a retailer, this is good and bad. It means that you’ll have access to audiences you could never reach before, but you’ll have to compete with sellers from every corner of the world.

So, how do you compete with the boutique around the corner when you’re on the other side of the planet? The key is localization. 

black friday localization

What Is Localization?

Localization builds a strong foundation for successful multi-market expansion. It goes beyond language to convey messaging and concepts that are appropriate for particular markets. Localization is the process of adjusting navigation, tone, content, and images to strengthen their cultural relevance and resonate with local users.

It’s not news that localization improves site performance. Over 15 years ago, studies showed that localization done right could increase website sales by as much as 200%. In 2014, Common Sense Advisory found that nearly 60% of online shoppers avoid English-only websites and more than 92% prefer sites that list prices in their local currency. Thorough various types of localization, you can encourage your customers around the world in ways you may never have considered.

Ways to Utilize Localization to Increase revenue this Holiday Season

1. Invest in Website Translation

Reading in your second language can be exhausting. Even if you’re fluent, using a language that isn’t your own demands more concentration than the language you’re most comfortable in. You don’t want your customers focused on just getting through your site. It needs to be effortless. Make it easy for your customers to do what you want them to do by translating your website. The holiday season can induce anxiety in the best of times. If the experience adds stress, they’ll go somewhere else.

2. Localize Your Branding

The perfect holiday gift is something that shows the receiver that the giver knows them and understands their needs. The same is true for a website. Your customers are more likely to purchase if they feel that you get them. One of the most famous examples of this is Marlboro cigarettes. In the early 1970s, the company wanted to reach the African American market. Tom Burrell, known as the father of targeted advertising, convinced them that the existing Marlboro Man character wasn’t culturally relevant. Instead of simply using a Black model for the same mascot, they needed a modern urban persona.

Whether you’re expanding to a new demographic or a new region, the principle is the same. Customers need to see their lifestyle reflected in order to trust that you’re not a careless intruder. If you’re launching in an Asian market, use Asian faces, if you’re selling in Scandinavia, replace photos of desert landscapes, and don’t make references to snow in a Christmas promotion in Argentina. Localizing will also allow you to start collecting the kind of reviews that build trust - local ones. 69% of customers want more reviews on eCommerce sites, and reviews from people who share their experiences and concerns – in their language - are the ones they’ll trust the most.

cyber monday localization

3. Tap Into Cultural Differences

During the holiday season, cultural and religious traditions are front and center. If you act as if everyone’s customs are the same, you inadvertently dismiss your customers’ experiences and heritage. That’s not a great basis for a relationship. And that’s why localization needs to go beyond direct translation.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales traditions have expanded globally, but specific holidays still vary. Translating your Christmas content doesn’t make much sense if you’re launching in India. Instead, ramp up your marketing in time for Diwali. Even in majority-Christian countries, tailor your holiday promotions. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th, and New Year’s is a big gift-giving day. In a lot of Catholic countries, especially in South America and parts of Europe, the baby Jesus himself brings the presents. In parts of Italy, it’s Saint Lucy. Customers there will understand references to the commercialized American Santa Claus, but you may not be triggering nostalgia in the way you’d hoped.

4. Customize and Streamline the Purchasing Process

Whether it’s Diwali, Novy God, Singles’ Day, or Thanksgiving, holiday shoppers aren’t there to browse. They have a list, a budget, and a tight deadline. Make it easy to find the information they need to stick to their schedule.

Make sure to localize the entire technical purchase process. Ensure that digital movies have subtitles or voice-overs in the local dialect and images align right to left if the local language goes that way. Prominently display prices in the local currency and international shipping information for their specific location. Make sure payment processing is easy and set up to work smoothly with local banks. Don’t forget to prepare the overall site infrastructure - all translated pages should interlink with translated pages and not pages in the original language, and your site’s dimensions must be optimized for the most popular devices locally.

5. Expand Your Customer Base by Ensuring Local Search Visibility

People search differently in different places. That means that translating keywords directly instead of localizing your SEO will make it harder for customers to find your site, costing you time and money in the long run. It’s particularly important to include local search terms in product titles and descriptions. This generally requires transcreation – creating new content from the content that you already translated. For example, One Hour Translation recently led a project using AliExpress content translated from Chinese to create brand new titles and descriptions in many other languages for markets around the world. This is more of a long-term investment, but it will pay off leaps and bounds for future holiday seasons.

holiday sales translation 2020

6. Create a Relevant User Experience

We could go on listing reasons why getting your website multi-market ready will improve revenue this holiday season, but it all boils down to creating a more relevant local experience. Users around the globe have different needs. Localizing your content will allow you to meet those needs, create relevant content, and compete effectively with local sellers.  

This shopping season, your website has more competition and more opportunities than ever. Brand new audiences are out there. Translating and localizing gets them to your site and keeps them there. 

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Avital Abramzon is the Head of B2C Business Unit at One Hour Translation. She has an extensive background in eCommerce, business operations, and global marketing. She loves helping companies grow and scale their online business. Connect with Avital on LinkedIn.

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