Read the Case study 4.1 “The implications of globalization for consumer attitudes” on page 218 and answer the question there.
Question – Based on this article and your experiences, debate the question: `Site localization is essential for each country for an e-commerce offering to be successful in that country. After referring to several online articles and couple of published papers on ‘Website localization’, I have summarized below some key learning and findings about ‘Why website localization is essential?’ Website localization facilitates reaching more customers throughout the world and hence increase Sales, revenue and profits – World Wide Web itself means a business can reach out all over the world through a click of the button. Internet knows no boundaries and it enables business to expand into international market since websites are easily accessible to one and all. Some useful 2012 statistics of where the 2405 million internet users come from are – Asia has 1076.7 million users (44.8% of total users)
Europe has 518.6 million users (21.5% of total users)
North America has 273.8 million users (11.4% of total users) Remaining 22% is spread across Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Oceania/Australia Growth of internet users in last 12 years has been very high in – a) Africa – 3606.7%
b) Middle East – 2639.9 %
c) Latin America/Caribbean – 1310.8%
d) Asia – 841.9%
Source : www.internetworldstats.com. Copyright © 2001 – 2012, Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved worldwide.
Best websites like Google, face book, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, e-bay, live etc. are all popular and successful because their users are from all over the world.
Website localization crosses all Language barriers –
According to 2012 report by www.internetworldstats.com only 27% of total
internet users know English. Number of internet users in non-English speaking countries is rapidly growing. For instance in last 10 years – i. use of Arabic online has increased 2501.2% ,
ii. use of Russian language has increased by 1825.8%
iii. use of Chinese language has increased by 1478.7%
iv. use of French, Spanish, German has also been increasing continuously. Source : www.internetworldstats.com. Copyright © 2001 – 2012, Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved worldwide.
Hence a website should be in a local language and easy for the International customers to read and understand. According to recent research, users perceive a company more favorably (for example more trustworthy, more likeable, etc) when they see a version of the website in their mother tongue, regardless of their English proficiency. (Tong 2011). Language is very important to create a positive brand image of the company and has profound impact on user’s mind. Text translation must be done by language expert having experience in copywriting and keeping in mind the target audience. If the translation is poor or is wrongly done by machine translator then the customer might not feel secure in doing business with your company since the meaning of a particular sentence might totally change and become ambiguous. Every website should be made available in a local language as well as English and users should be able to choose their preferred language easily through a click of a button. For instance – Google was quick to realize it had to invest in languages if it was going to succeed in local markets. When most companies were happy to support 10-20 languages, Google localized its search interface to support 60 languages. The search engine now supports 120+ languages and most Google services support between 40 and 50 languages.
Website localization highlights product modifications done to suit a new market – When any company starts its operation in a new region it is important to find out consumer preferences and likes. Since every market is not the same it is essential to modify and customize products according to customers’ taste in every region. Website localization hence becomes
important to convey the product highlights according to that specific market For eg: McDonald’s launch in India is a classic example of Localization of its products and website. McDonald a hamburger chain when launched in India found out that at least 40% of the customers in India are Vegetarians. To cater to these customers McDonald introduced its first local burger, the Aloo-tikki burger which is a patty of potatoes and peas flavored with Indian spices, McDonald’s had to develop 130 ingredients and use 50 suppliers. To respect the local culture, India is the only country where McDonald does not serve its iconic Big Mac since the burger patty contains beef. Similarly no products having pork are sold in McDonald India. In 1997 consumers classified McDonald food as bland. They launched Veg Mcpuffs (Samosa + Pizza ingredients) and Chicken Mcgrill (with extra tangy Indian spices) and by 2000 McDonald food items were sought for its taste. McDonalds have also launched McSpicy Paneer (Cottage Cheese) in March 2011 to cater to Vegetarian Indian families. Till 2011 India was the only country where McDonalds offered so much of variety in Vegetarian food. Thus to be successful in India McDonalds has altered its menu to reflects the tastes of Hindus and have added more items to suit local tastes. Thus McDonald’s Indian website http://www.mcdonaldsindia.com/ also has been localized to highlight all Vegetarian products along with other Non-Vegetarian products it offers.
Website localization understands cultural differences and customers in a better way – Customs and culture differ in every region, cities and countries. A localized website should fulfill all needs of its target audience and also take care about the feelings of the local community and culture. Some colors, signs, words, phrases might have different meaning in different places, and hence they should be avoided. Similarly it is not good to have religious symbols and images on website; it might hurt sentiments of the residents following same or different religion. For instance, in middle-east it is not considered appropriate if the model’s image on the company website is revealing too much, the website might get censored and banned by local authorities if it does not respect local culture. Children are also using internet in most parts of the world and use of inappropriate images/videos is not advisable on any company website or it will spoil the
credibility of the ecommerce company. Website localization is a must for Customer convenience –
If the website is an e-commerce, a travel or money related site it is important to localise tools for ease in navigation and order placement. ‘Currency converters’, ‘shipping costs’, ‘terms and conditions’ and other important information must be provided to enable customers to decide faster and enable to process the order easily. Payment terms may also differ from region to region, like in India ‘Cash on Delivery’ is very common whereas in most parts of the other world payment is accepted through PayPal or Debit/Credit card.
Website localization is also crucial for date/time, input/output, images, colors, layout, fonts, validation and functionality. A good user experience leads to customer satisfaction and repeat orders. All e-commerce websites like expedia.com, e-bay.com, gap.com, etc have currency converters, shipping costs and clear terms of delivery .www.flipkart.com in India has been growing rapidly for the reason that it is ‘Easy and reliable’ for its users to order products from the website.
Localized website builds positive brand image –
A global brand website having locally relevant content will build positive brand image. As compared to a site only in English, a website in major languages gains more credibility. Most of the global brands also have an option to browse their website in a country specific link. Localization of website demonstrates the strengths of an International player.
For excellent customer experience below technical aspects should be kept in mind for a localized website – 1. Localized websites should have a similar look-and-feel across regions. Defining standards for images, colors, tone, and logos will help maintain a consistent global image. 2. The website should have a flexible design so that it can be adapted for other languages in future. Pages should be adjusted based on changing size of the content. For instance Arabic text might take more space compared to English text because of spacing and bigger text. Translated text should be read easily.
3. Text embedded in graphics, video or animations should be avoided since it makes localization more difficult. 4. As per Jesús Maroto & Mario de Bortoli (2001) paper – ‘Web Site Localisation’ published in Proceedings of the European Languages and the Implementation of Communication and Information Technologies (Elicit) Analysis and planning the localization of website is very important to identify – a. What to localize – not all pages need to be translated as some may contain local information of no interest to certain markets. This makes it important to decide which pages constitute the central core of a website and to stick to translating just those. b. Parts that will regularly change. The website should be continuously updated and it should be closely followed by their translation. c. Structure of website – planning structure of entire website is useful before translation begins and will simplify the work needed to maintain several languages at once. 5. Paul Sawers, Apps & Media Editor at The Next Web recommends use of Unicode in website designing. As per his online article ‘Web design, with the world in mind: a guide to website internationalization’ dated 20th May 2011, Unicode is a computing industry standard, and its aim is to enable the consistent representation of text, irrespective of the script. For example English, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Thai — any written language, whether it reads left-to-right (LTR) or right-to-left (RTL), is catered for. Unicode has a repertoire of over a hundred thousand characters, spanning ninety different scripts. UTF-8 is becoming the default encoding system for e-mail and websites, and by adopting this you can ensure your website is compatible with almost any language. 6. According to paper ‘Designing Your Website with Localization in Mind’ published by Globalme Localization Inc it is very crucial to develop ‘Strategy for SEO’ – your localization vendor will help you with the localized keywords, however, outlining the target words for each page during the optimization of English content will help your localization vendor to develop a more efficient keyword strategy. Bibliography –
Globalme Localization Inc, Vancouver paper ‘Designing Your Website with Localization in Mind’ available from http://cdn.globalme.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/web-localization-whitepape
r.pdf [accessed on 2/11/2012] Jesús Maroto & Mario de Bortoli (2001) paper – ‘Web Site Localisation’ published in Proceedings of the European Languages and the Implementation of Communication and Information Technologies (Elicit) available from [accessed on 1/11/2012] Online articles:
Paul Sawers (2001) article ‘Web design, with the world in mind: a guide to website internationalization’ available from http://thenextweb.com/dd/2011/05/20/web-design-with-the-world-in-mind-a-guide-to-website-internationalization/ [accessed on 29/10/2012] Jenny Warner (2010), PixelCrayons, article Web Localisation Is Important… But Why And How? available from http://abduzeedo.com/web-localisation-important-why-and-how [accessed on 29/10/2012]