Build a Trusted Brand

How to localise your online business for different markets

Monday, September 10, 2018

Customers in different countries need to be treated differently. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing a seamless customer experience in different markets.

In this blog post, Nicola Carmyllie, Managing Director of Translation Laboratory, shares her top tips for localising your online business for new global markets.

What is ‘localisation’?

Localisation covers much more than just translation. It involves adapting your content or product to suit a different market. Each country has cultural differences to consider that inspire trust and increase conversions. To create a fully localised experience online and to maximise success, you need to localise all content and also adapt your site to address cultural differences. By failing to localise appropriately, you’ll limit the conversion potential of your website and you won’t maximise the return on investment of your expansion efforts.

Approaching content localisation

The traditional approach to localisation was to focus on translation only, with clients wondering whether to use a human translator or machine translation, such as Google Translate. This approach is now shifting as companies have begun to realise the benefits of localising their content and website for their target markets using human mother-tongue translators. Instead of creating a single piece of content and translating it word for word, companies are starting to adapt content to resonate and engage locally, allowing them to compete more effectively against local competitors. This is known as transcreation, where marketing messages are adapted to different cultures and languages whilst maintaining the original context and intent of the messaging. As well as localising words, imagery also needs to be reviewed against cultural expectations. Imagery can be interpreted differently in different markets and what might seem a normal representation to a UK audience may seem at best unrealistic and at worst offensive to a different audience. For example, whilst the colour white represents purity and innocence in many western cultures, in China and Japan it represents death and mourning. An image of a family wearing white will imply a different message to each audience.

Addressing cultural conversion barriers

When launching your business into a new market, a thorough analysis of cultural differences should be conducted to ensure you minimise risk and maximise revenues.
Examples of cultural conversion barriers include trust signals, payment methods and delivery and returns options.

Trust signals

Trust signals help customers feel more secure in their purchase with a company they have never transacted with online before. For each country, trust signals will vary and therefore so must your approach to establishing trust in different markets. Incorporating the relevant trust signals on to your website will inspire more trust in your brand and increase conversion rates. For some markets, reviews may be the top signal, such as the Nordics where online reviews from Trustpilot are seen as one of the best ways to establish trust. For other markets, logos from certain organisations may also need to be utilised. One of the most popular trust signals for Germany is the TÜV: the s@fer shopping certificate. Germany also has a unique trust signal called an Impressum, which is a legal document that must be published on German websites to show the ownership and authorship of a website.

Payment methods

Localising your checkout process is crucial for minimising your abandonment rate. A key element of this is offering relevant payment methods for the audience you are targeting. In each country there will be different payment options preferred by users. Google Market Finder is a useful tool that allows you to see the most popular payment methods in each market by utilising data from Worldpay (2016). For example, 40% of people in Germany prefer to pay via bank transfer, compared to only 7% in China. 30% of people in France prefer to pay via direct debit, but this is much lower in Germany at 6%.

Payment methods

Delivery and returns

Ecommerce delivery and returns preferences differ across different markets. The range of options available and the costs associated are an important factor as to whether a user will convert.

Research by Postnord shows that whilst 44% of Polish customers are willing to pay for next day delivery, only 20% of French customers have the same preference. 69% of Polish customers feel it is important to be able to change the delivery date or time after purchases have been dispatched compared to only 25% of Belgium customers. When it comes to returns, clear returns information is most important to those in Italy with 65% saying it was very important compared to 47% of customers in the Nordics.


Localisation includes much more than just translation. Understanding cultural differences is key to providing a truly localised user experience. This in turn will increase your conversion rates and maximise the return on your investment.

This is a blog post from Nicola Carmyllie, Managing Director at Translation Laboratory.


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