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Think Global to Sell More This Holiday Season

By Liz Elting

Business 2 Community - November 16, 2012

Every November, the stakes are high for retailers who count on closing out the year with strong holiday sales numbers. This year, retailers got some encouraging news: multiple reports predict that consumer confidence will be up and overall retail sales will increase between three and five percent compared to last year. Experts also predict that a good chunk of the consumer spending increase will come from online retail purchases this holiday season.

Many companies prepare for in-store holiday shoppers by adding staff at their brick-and-mortar locations. That same attention to customer service needs to be aimed at retailers’ online and customer call center operations as well.  For companies who want to go global, the online holiday shopping rush presents unique opportunities – and challenges.  Offering professional, accurate translations online of product descriptions, ordering, shipping and return information should be viewed as a requirement to benefit fully from a multinational customer base. Call centers should be prepared for incoming contact from shoppers of all languages as well. Language is a key factor in influencing purchasing behavior, and smart companies know that consumer-facing, in-language strategies will boost sales this holiday season.

Retailers are taking a closer look at the reasons why customers abandon virtual shopping carts so they can improve their online conversion rates. As global e-commerce increases, these retailers understand the need for in-language checkout services that take the international consumer all the way through the sale, and even provide follow-up communication after the sale. In the past, the standard use of translated and localized content was used to provide minimal product descriptions and sizing charts, but when a customer checked out, they were often sent to an English-only checkout or payment page that was confusing enough to result in a canceled sale. Quality messaging and content in the shopper’s preferred language, at all points of the transaction, plays an essential role in increasing customer conversion rates.

There is a rising middle class of non-English speakers in places like Ethiopia, Brazil, China and Indonesia who are eager to make purchases online and to share information about products but require localization to do so. Then there is the rapidly expanding Hispanic and Asian middle class in areas like Washington, D.C., New York, Houston, and Los Angeles who are bilingual but strongly prefer to shop and share on sites that recognize their language and culture.  Consumers want to shop on their computers and mobile devices in the language of their choice. This holiday season, remember the world is your customer – and your online retail shop should reflect that. Providing localized messaging and support within a global marketplace will appeal to a larger customer base, resulting in stronger brand loyalty and repeat business, even after the holidays are over.