New Research: Localization Important for Successful Global E-Commerce -
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New Research: Localization Important for Successful Global E-Commerce

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Recently, a survey has been held to investigate the effects of language, localization and brand recognition on e-commerce. The results? Consumers are more likely to buy products online if they can do so in their own language.

Last February, independent research firm Common Sense Advisory issued a report called “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014.” 

In this report, the firm revealed the results of a survey that was held among 3,000 consumers all across the globe living in 10 different non-Anglophone countries.

PR Newswire gives an account of the report’s most interesting finds.

The ten countries included in the survey were Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. According to PR Newswire, the different nationalities all received a survey that was drawn up in the official language of their own country.

This makes sense, as the study’s aim was to gain a greater insight into the way online language preferences and languages impact online shopping. To do so, PR Newswire says, the study focusses on factors such as nationality, proficiency in the English language, global brand recognition and foreign currency payment options.

Don DePalma, founder of Common Sense advisory and currently its Chief Strategy Officer, believes the study can be of great help for global businesses. He states that it is generally assumed people are fine with using English to buy expensive products online. However, in another study by Common Sense Advisory in 2006, 72.4% of global consumers indicated that they prefer to use their native language when shopping online. These findings were confirmed by the new study, DePalma says; moreover, as three-quarters of all participants now chose their own language over English, the results even showed a growth in the demand for local languages.

PR Newswire also states that 55% of the participants said they only buy products from websites that provide them with information in their own language. For people who have a limited knowledge of the English language, this number even was as high as 80%.

Furthermore, the Common Sense Advisory Report also revealed nationality plays a significant role in the demand for local languages. In Japan, for example, over 70 per cent of consumers only buy from local-language websites.

In its article, PR Newswire also includes other interesting findings from the “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014” report:

•    30% of the study’s participants never buy products from websites in English; 29% rarely do this.
•    56% of the people surveyed spend more time on local-language sites than on English ones – or never visit English websites at all.
•    The participants were least likely to buy automotive and financial services from websites that were not in their own language.
•    Half of all consumers preferred to have at least a part of a website’s navigation and content in their local language. This is surprising, as it is generally agreed that websites should be localized entirely or not at all.
•    Global brands can convince people to buy from non-native websites. Especially Egyptian consumers can be persuaded to buy products from foreign websites if global brands are involved.
•    Other factors that influence consumers’ online shopping behaviour are Privacy, payment methods, delivery and customs. Egyptian and Turkish participants, for example, were most hesitant to enter personal information.

DePalma believes that the data from the report shows that localization is a must for companies that wish to sell their products worldwide. Not only is localization vital for a good user experience, it will also spark a brand dialogue with the consumer.

So, how does your website look now? What potential could it release being translated and localized for a foreign audience?

New to web localization? Why not download our Guide to Localization & Translation?


The Culture Vulture moved from Africa to work for Kwintessential back in 2007. His job is to fly around, keeping an eye on news, making sure you keep up-to-date with developments in the world of language, culture, localization and international business.