Weighing up your multilingual options for international selling on BigCommerce

Expanding internationally is a natural step in the growth of most ecommerce businesses. A multilingual ecommerce store is vital to cross-border growth. One of the major obstacles to overcome first, however, is the language barrier. According to a study of non-English speakers by Common Sense Advisory, 65% of consumers prefer websites in their native language. It is completely understandable, trust plays a huge factor in online shopping and if you can’t understand the language on the website, how can you be sure you can trust the merchant? Catering to foreign languages is absolutely crucial to building relationships with international customers and gaining their trust and repeat business. Luckily BigCommerce has a couple of ways to help you bring multiple languages to your ecommerce store. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using translation apps vs implementing multi-storefront, to help you decide which is the right multi-language solution for your business. If you don’t yet have a BigCommerce store, you can start your free trial today to start growing your cross-border business.

Why not just leave it to Google Translate to make your store multilingual?

Why bother with this? I hear you ask. When Google automatically translates foreign language websites to the user’s native language, right? Doesn’t that mean you basically have a multilingual ecommerce store without even trying? Well yes, this is correct. However, you will be giving up the responsibility for translating your website to your customer’s browser. If their settings are different or they are on a different browser that does not automatically translate, you’re back to square one.  Placing translation responsibility on the browser also means you are giving the search engine no sign that you are an internationally friendly business, so it likely won’t rank your content highly for searchers in foreign countries. 

What are Translation Apps?

Translation apps such as Weglot integrate into your website and automatically translate all detectable written content, down to the metadata. 

Pros of Translation Apps for multilingual ecommerce

  • Select from over 100 languages and the app will translate the website under subdomains, each compliant with multilingual SEO standards so your site will rank in search engines for that language.
  • The app will automatically update translations of any additions or edits on your original site so you only have to worry about the upkeep of one site.
  • A cheap option, mostly available on a monthly subscription charge.

Cons of Translation Apps for multilingual ecommerce

  • Predominantly relies on computer-generated translations which, even with the most advanced algorithms, are not always grammatically accurate.
  • Translates the written content but won’t adjust currency or measurements to local standards. 
  • Directly translating your English-language content can lose nuance and tone of voice in another language and doesn’t allow for tailored messaging for the target market in that country.

What is Multi-Storefront on BigCommerce?

Multi-Storefront enables you to build a number of separate storefronts, individually optimised for different regions or audiences, controlled by the same back-end dashboard.

Pros of Multi-Storefront for multilingual ecommerce

  • Each storefront can be localised, not just with the native language but standard units of measurement, currency, local taxation, and relevant shipping options.
  • Integrated APIs can be customised to each storefront, for example, product search can be adjusted according to local tastes, priorities and interests. 
  • Allows you to design the layout of each storefront around the language, for example, German will take up a lot more space on the page than English, while some Asian scripts can convey complex concepts with just a few characters. 

Cons of Multi-Storefront for multilingual ecommerce

  • Requires a much greater initial investment of time and money to build multiple storefronts.
  • Maintaining and updating multiple stores will be time-consuming.
  • The number of languages accommodated is limited to the number of storefronts you choose to build.
Multi-Storefront provides merchants with so much more than just language capabilities, individual storefronts can be customised to attract different verticals, audiences, industries, whichever way you divide up your target market. Check out the BigCommerce website for more information and get started today.

So which is the right multilingual ecommerce option for you?

Translation apps offer a quick, easy and cheap solution to multi-language selling, however, they are limited to the simple function of directly translating written content. Multi-storefront is more expensive and complex to build but enables merchants to fully localise each store, building trust and stronger relationships with customers, driving higher traffic and conversions. Ultimately, the choice of which solution is right for your business comes down to budget and business strategy. If you are looking to expand your business internationally, your first step will be market research and deciding where to sell your products. If you have a couple of specific overseas markets you want to focus on, then purpose-built, localised storefronts will allow you to target them more effectively. If you don’t have a particular country you want to target, or you don’t expect high volumes from overseas, then a translator app that will provide language capabilities with minimal effort and budget, will be the right choice. A further option, of course, is to cover all of your bases. Build individual, tailored stores for each of your major international target markets, and also integrate a translator app on your native language site to cover other languages as well. If you are ready to grow your business internationally, get in touch with the BigCommerce team, or one of their Elite agency partners with over a decade of specialist experience such as Calashock at [email protected], to discuss your business needs and make sure you implement the right option for your business. 

by Verena