I have spent quite a bit of time at events over the last few weeks, mostly related to international ecommerce. What stood out is that there are vast opportunities for UK businesses.
We are seen as the “best practice standard” according to some of the rest of Europe, and there are any number of incredible partners (rather than suppliers) who can make the process of going international a breeze.
The areas covered varied from platforms to servers to systems integrators, logistics, and even some SEO. Then there were the retailers, the people actually doing it, who talked through the challenges they face.
Two events stood out for focus and learning. One was an Internet Retailing event, which was their international research briefing at the fabulous Glazier’s Hall (@etail).
The other was organised by Magentys (specialists in DevOps & automated testing) in Shoreditch, where I seem to be leading a second life lately.
I joined Craig Smith from Marks & Spencer (who’ll be a guest blogger with us soon) and Jonny Wooldridge from The Cambridge Satchel Company.
These two very different retailers talked about their strategies, with the common element being the belief in international markets.
I have to admit to a conflict of interest at this latter event. I talked about the challenges faced by customers wanting to grasp the nettle and get a fully translated ecommerce site. A recurring theme for me at the moment, which was emphasised as I prepared for the talk, is making sure you get a return on investment on your language spend.
In ecommerce, the metrics should be clear, with the quality of translation being commensurate with the demands of the product, brand, target audience, price point and the speed of the turnover of stock. Admittedly quite a few moving parts there. So maybe it’s not quite so easy to have a clear associated metric that can be universally applied.
For example, if you’re selling a football you might need less explanation to convert than selling one of the aforementioned satchels. The aspirational dimensions and saliency of the brand to the key demographics and product require a flexible approach.
Obviously, the reverse may be true if someone knows a brand and wants it – in this case do they actually need a well-translated description? (Whereas the football might have handstitched panels with extra bend properties and have been used in the last World Cup!)
What I’m trying to say is that with a finite amount of money and a limitless amount of product data we all need to make sure that the two balance out with the end translation and sales.
It can be hard for language buyers when everyone talks about quality as a universal given, and irrespective of price paid you are told you can get the same outcome.
Obviously this can’t be true. What should be more transparent is the ability to pay an appropriate amount to get the best possible outcome for your company – ultimately how many conversions can you get.
You want to find the tipping point between cost(which should equate to quality) and the conversions achieved from your visitors to maximise this return.
Of course, your language site doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and there are other elements influencing your conversions as well. But I think the point still valid – only pay for what you need.
I think a lot more needs to be done to try to rationalise this approach. In certain situations, if you have loads of content and a tight budget, your only choices will be low cost or automated translation and hoping for the best. But ideally there should be a chance to pick and choose the best approach based on the product, audience and return.
Certainly here at Lingo24 we are trying to engage in this conversation and immerse ourselves in our clients’ world. I know other language companies are also trying to help and guide their customers. Hopefully together we can arrive at a point where what the customer ultimately pays, whatever that might be, makes sense with the return on investment. They shouldn’t be forced into using one service throughout, but using the huge variety of service levels on offer to cater for the individual needs of the product.
Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox and look forward to seeing you at the next event I attend – probably in Shoreditch!