Website globalization may have become a mainstream activity, but best practices are still not recognized or widely deployed. Site owners looking to improve their street cred on the international highways and byways need to look carefully in order to discern good practices from bad. By studying the top-scoring global websites, companies that hope to be world-class practitioners can learn today’s best practices, prepare for tomorrow, and stay ahead of the herd.
As a result, many firms still debate whether it makes business sense to globalize their online marketing, online commerce sites, and call centers. Nonetheless, research dating back to 1998 indicates a high propensity for people to buy in their own language. It’s clear that website globalization has become a mainstream business activity today; in future years what is now a low curve in the below graph will likely become a straight diagonal line from upper left to lower right.
Most people prefer buying in their own language
More than half of the web users who purchased online (52.4%) buy only at websites where the information is presented in their language. More than 60 percent of consumers in France and Japan buy products from localized sites. In terms of language competence, people with no or low English skills were six times more likely not to buy from Anglophone sites than their countrymen who were proficient in English.
Language significantly influenced more important purchases
The vast majority (85.3%) feels that having pre-purchase information in their own language is a critical factor in buying insurance and other financial services. Conversely, just 45.8 percent thinks that it is important to buying clothes on the web. The more valuable an item, the more likely it is that someone will want to read about the product and buy it in their own language.
It takes more than local language to sell something
Over two-thirds (67.4%) of web users visit English-language sites monthly or more frequently, but just a quarter (25.5%) regularly purchase goods or services at those properties. Even with information available in the local language, the inability to use their own credit cards or currency stymies many international buyers. Converting those international browsers to buyers requires translation plus improved site performance and commercial enablers such as credit card and country-specific transaction support.
Global brands trump language and price
Half of the web users (50.8%) would buy a global brand over a local one, even without translated information. Looking at individual countries, just Germany and Japan fell below the 50-percent mark. However, having information in their own language was more important to 56.2 percent of the global web users than a low price.
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• What LSPs Need to Know about global Website Trends: 14 April 2011 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.
• The Word’s 100 Best Global Websites in 2011: March 2011 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.
• Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters: September 2006 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.