International online retailers need a processor able to receive global payments from anywhere in the world. Of course, for foreign shoppers to make purchases and send these payments, the website they’re browsing must be available in their native language.
According to the BBC, there are approximately 7,000 languages used worldwide. Many of these have just a few speakers, but others are used by millions. Arabic, Bengali, French, English, German, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish are the most widely-spoken. Portuguese, Hindi and Mandarin are particularly noteworthy for their widespread use in the emerging e-commerce markets in Brazil, India and China, respectively.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to translate web pages into a different language. Online businesses should keep a few things in mind when setting out to create a multi-language e-commerce website.
How to start
Companies don’t have to completely rewrite their online stores from scratch if they want to incorporate another language, Entrepreneur wrote. All that matters is the site’s content, not the code it was written in. Still, companies must make sure catchphrases and keywords translate well enough to be understood by foreign shoppers and work with international SEO techniques. This is a lengthy process, Entrepreneur noted, although Google Trends can help.
Companies should also be aware of how their web address translates into a different language. Entrepreneur identified three options they can choose from: Top-level domains such as business.lang, subdomains such as language.business.com and subdirectories like business.com/language. To make a selection, businesses should monitor their analytics and survey customers in various areas.
Identify languages in the page’s code
As Nomensa, a design agency specializing in user experience, wrote, screen readers and other accessibility devices can’t tell what language a website is written in based on the page content itself. When the site’s language is identified via its code, these devices switch words automatically and change the pitch, accent and speaking rate to match. Businesses should make sure any in-house or third-party designers adhere to all accessibility practices to ensure their e-commerce websites are available to all audiences, not just the able-bodied.
Nomensa also stressed the importance of character sizes. Certain languages, such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese are harder to read at small sizes than Latin alphabets. The website suggested using the Web programming language known as CSS and classes or pseudo classes to target elements in different languages.
Companies without the budget for a compete website overhaul can use Google’s Website Translator plugin. This bit of code lets users translate foreign webpages into their local language without leaving the site.
Businesses hoping to reach global markets must also make sure to accept payments in various formats from a wide variety of locations. While providing international shoppers the ability to read an e-commerce website is the first step to going international, the second is allowing consumers the ability to purchase goods in a manner they feel comfortable. Businesses should make sure their payment processor is capable of handling electronic payments in different currencies.
Brought to you by PacNet Services, your one-stop global payment processing solution.