Whilst localisation remains pivotal for any company looking to experience international ecommerce success, its true meaning is often misunderstood;dramatically reducingoverseas conversion rates. So what is localisation?

Localisation is the process of converting a foreign website so that it appears to be of native origin for the user. The main objective is to make the consumer trust the website,increasing the chances of the customer making a purchase.

Translation of the text is a starting point. Cost of translation ranges from 4 pence per word to more than 15 pence per word, and ‘buyer beware’ you get what you pay for. Too often do we come across literally translated text that does not make sense in context. For instance the word Cart (as in the check out facility) is common in the USA, but in the UK the word to use is basket. Then there is the need to optimize the use of words to reflect common relevant search terms in a country.  You need local expert advice on (the optimal density of) these search terms before you start writing.

Localisation goes way beyond an effective translation. In effect, our website transformation check lists contain at least another 25 factors to get right, ranging from local payment methods, to price listing conventions (e.g. did you know that in France normal prices are often written in red?), local telephone numbers and return addresses, legal requirements, data fields for effective check outs etc.

What happens if the site is not localised effectively?  Customers will start asking questions: a contact telephone number in another country will make customers wonder what the costs of the call might be and whether they will be able to communicate effectively with someone which might speak other language.  A return address in a different country will soon raise questions about the likelihood of actually getting your money back. Another often made mistake is in the format of the data input fields in the check-out process, meaning that some customers can not fill out their correct address. As soon customers start asking questions they do not focus anymore on buying your product. How often have you been wanting to buy something on a website, but decided not to because it ‘did not feel right’?