Creating and maintaining a truly international brand isn’t easy, but businesses are increasingly set on conquering international markets. The world is becoming smaller, as consumers all over the globe now have access to the internet and are beginning to expect to see services and products marketed to them in their own language.
As a result of this change in consumer attitudes, any international brand worth its salt knows how important it is to localise their website.
One of the industries that has fully embraced the global marketplace, perhaps more than most, is the fashion industry. Buying clothes online has become a phenomenon. So much so that online clothing retailers are now household names in every corner of the world.
Here, we look at some of the fashion e-commerce sites who sell their wares through localised sites most effectively. We’ll examine the tricks they use to ensure the audience in their different markets is engaged and feels valued.
It’s sometimes about practical things like getting the currency and shipping details right, but it’s equally about using the help of translation service professionals to tailor the content to a specific market and speaking to people in the language they use in everyday life.
ASOS is somewhat of a behemoth of online fashion retail. Originating in the UK, it now also operates in Australia, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany and France. The site is well-translated and uses colloquialisms to help engage young audiences in the language they use when chatting to their friends about clothes and fashion.
For example, on the British site, an image of a girl in a clubbing outfit sits next to text saying ‘Going out out’, which is a term used in the UK for having a big night out with friends. On the French site, the same image is positioned next to the French colloquial term ‘gross réssoi’, which has a similar meaning.
Next to the image of a woman in an evening dress, the UK site says ‘Occasionwear’, while the ASOS Russia site describes the range as for high school graduation. ASOS’s localisation teams know that Russian teens dress formally for their graduations and that they may be buying outfits right now.
The ‘Style Feed’ section on the home page of the various international ASOS sites differs hugely. The brand’s digital marketers and localisation experts have selected the ‘stories’ that will most appeal to the local consumers. For Asos.com, there’s ‘6 Trends from London Fashion Week’ and a guide to what to wear at summer weddings. The French Style feed has a more serious tone, with emphasis on simple styling and beauty products.
H&M is another international e-commerce brand that gets their international content spot-on. Like ASOS, H&M tailors their homepage content to the market sensitively and focuses on speaking to local consumers in their own language. This doesn’t mean translating the text from the English site word for word – that would be disastrous in the case of the phrase ‘going out out’ for example, but instead means thinking about the language H&M shoppers actually use in everyday conversations and creating text accordingly.
As well as sensitive translations, a lot of transcreation goes on at H&M HQ. Again, we see that homepage content differs between H&M’s UK site and H&M’s French site, for example. The UK homepage links to an interview with online influencer Linda Tol, while the France site promotes an interview with French journalist and style icon Alexandra Golovanoff.
From a practical point of view, H&M has a detailed customer service information section on both websites and includes local legal and privacy information suitable for each of its markets. Putting this kind of information together isn’t straightforward, but consumers increasingly require customer service to be provided in their own language and brands that can’t offer this will struggle to compete. This is another area where working with our translation and localisation experts can help.
Desigual is a very pan-European brand and it communicates this cleverly by effectively combining different languages on its homepage. We don’t think that leaving in the English term ‘Friendly Reminder’ on its French homepage was an accident. Oh no. Desigual know that dropping in English phrases can help allude to the brand’s multi-national reach. Using English colloquial phrases is often seen as trendy in other European countries, just as splashing French phrases across t-shirts is fashionable here in the UK.
These guys are US-based designer fashion retailers embarking on an international expansion. They are offering international shipping to markets like Russia and China and are also promoting ‘easy returns’ to these customers to help convince them that they can buy without risk. ShopBop has invested heavily in translation, with their site available fully translated to Chinese and Russian users. There is also partial translation available in five other languages. Customer service emails are also accepted and returned in ‘any language’, which is encouraging.
Finally, at the top of the market we have Net-a-Porter. This high-end fashion retailer is another international favourite doing something very clever on the homepage to highlight global reach. At the bottom of the homepage is an ever-updating stream of items to ‘showcase what the world’s most stylish women are buying right now’. The item shows what customers are putting in their virtual shopping bags and there seems to be a concerted effort to include consumers from a vast array of nations.
Net-a-porter has also invested in translation services, with fashionistas in Chinese, German and French-speaking countries able to access a full version of the site in their native tongue. It also includes localised information like the Russian Personal Data Policy and there are local numbers to call for customer service in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
We’re not saying these sites are perfect, but they are good examples of the approaches brands can take when localising their web content to ensure they don’t marginalize overseas markets.
Many of the examples above can be achieved with a willingness to embrace the growing global marketplace and the right translation and localisation experts at hand.