Localization Strategy 101: How To Take Over A New Market For E-Commerce?

Thorin Tran
Jun 14, 2024
3 min read

Are you ready to go global and advertise your amazing products or services to potential customers in new markets? If you already have a well-thought-out plan to tackle it, great! If not, you may want to hold your horses and finish this article. International business expansion is all about resonating with your new audience, creating a connection, not just merely addressing the language barrier via translation. To achieve that, build a strong localization strategy.

In this blog, we will explain why and how businesses that localize grow. We’ve also packed in some great insiders’ tips at the end, so make sure you won’t miss them!

What Is Localization Strategy?

Let’s start with the basics. A localization strategy refers to the unique approach a business takes to adapt to the different purchasing habits, customer behaviors, and cultures of each country it targets.

In other words, companies seek to provide customers with a familiar and comfortable experience when entering a new foreign market. A localization strategy contains various modifications, including changes in language (the fundamental), tone, imagery, and subject matter. This ensures customers the same benefits from a local business while emphasizing the company’s unique offerings.

The Pros And Cons Of Localization

So, what are the localization strategy advantages and disadvantages? Let’s check them out!


Increase Engagement

Localization plays a vital role in engaging customers in a foreign market. Specialized marketing campaigns for different countries will improve your chance of acquiring a new audience. A survey by Common Sense Advisory claimed that companies that could communicate with international consumers were 2.67 times more likely to increase revenue. They also conducted another survey that showed 56.2% of web consumers considered the ability to see information in their native language was more important than price.

Don’t expect the normal audience to pick up your mother tongue or culture just to use your products. You’re the one who should be doing the heavy lifting here.

Stay Ahead of The Curve

Data compiled in Shopify’s Future of Commerce report shows that 47% of consumers mark a brand’s presence in their local market as a significant factor to decide whether to continue shopping or not. So, if you want to stay ahead of the competition, definitely localize your products!

localization growth chart

Businesses that localize better grow at a higher rate than those that don’t. (Source: Shopify)

Establish Trust

A powerful marketing campaign that features regional language and cultural norms, as well as relevant topics, will make your brand relatable to the local audience. Regional adaptations of global brand campaigns also indicate sincere understanding and thoughtfulness - a major factor in building trust. Trust then translates to higher sales and customer loyalty.

Build Brand Awareness On A Global Scale

According to HubSpot, businesses that provide localized content will achieve a 19% increase in sales compared to those using a one-size-fits-all campaign. This speaks of the importance of relevant content. It drives a greater interest and response rate when locals can relate to what you say. Better engagement leads to better trust, thus, increasing the value of your business on a global scale.


Be Detail-Oriented Or Fail

Localization is not something that can be done half-heartedly. Even natives of a culture or language make mistakes - which may cost everything in a business setting. What we’re trying to say is that the margin for errors is slim. Everyone wants to negate negative impacts on their brand, every business wants to produce relevant content for audiences in each region, but, easier said than done.

There are just so many things to consider when adjusting your business for a foreign market. An e-commerce localization strategy has to calculate variables like the currency, favorable payment methods, product pricing, local taboos, etc… You cannot afford to make mistakes. Keep all the details in check unless you want to fail.

High Upfront Cost

Executing a brand expansion plan into new markets takes time. It contains a list of long-term investments that won’t benefit your business right away. Be prepared to spend a lot of your resources. Establishing trust and customer loyalty through localized campaigns doesn’t happen overnight.

You’ll need a team of local experts or local marketers, plus a content platform and tools to run as well as monitor your campaigns. Drawing up a localization strategy costs an arm and leg, even more, to make it a reality.

Why Do E-Commerce Businesses Need A Localization Strategy?

Before we start, here are some facts that you need to know:

  • More than 50% of all Google queries are performed in languages other than English.
  • About 40% of internet users won’t ever buy from websites that aren’t in their native language.
  • The same research also claims that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from the same brand again if the aftersales care is in their native language.

From these statistics alone, you can see clearly why localization matters. Adapt to the native market and culture for a better chance to grow. By nature, e-commerce makes it fiercely competitive. You have to stand out in order to thrive. Localization can help you with that. E-commerce allows you to sell your products to basically anyone who has an Internet connection. Take advantage of that, then accompany it with a powerful localization strategy, and you can gain new loyal customers on a global scale.

Developing marketing materials and quality products for a specific region or population gives you the tools to compete with domestic businesses. Localization is also essential to keep your business competitive against local brands. These brands often get preferential treatment since they’re readily trusted by customers.

However, you can negate these advantages thanks to a well-carried-out localization strategy. It enables you to effectively broaden the potential customer base and effectively sidestep the potential pitfalls of cross-cultural marketing. Modern marketers now have in their pockets tools like high-quality translation, local SEO review, and more. This grants an even footing in the battle against local competition.

localization for international businesses

Localization is the key to acquiring new customers from different markets.

It’s all about providing a remarkable customer experience. Strategic moves to tackle the local culture make your business appealing to customers wherever they are. Delivering a stellar experience (not just translating your product descriptions) gives businesses the edge when the competition heats up. When the experience isn't seamless, chances are you’ll lose customers to a competitor. And of course, localization contributes a great deal to a seamless experience. Who doesn’t love efficiently browsing an e-commerce website with products listed in their mother tongue?

No matter the size of your company, localization is always recommended. It enables your company to resonate with a whole new audience and learn its needs. The million-dollar question is, how do you approach it strategically?

Plan Your Own Localization Strategy

Here are 5 things you should consider when brewing localization strategy solutions:

  1. When do you need a localization strategy?
  2. How can you gain insights into the target demographics?
  3. How can you maximize translation proficiency?
  4. What are your competitors doing?
  5. How can you create content for each foreign market?

1. When Do You Need A Localization Strategy?

If you’re planning to branch out, especially to new countries, localization sits at the front and center of everything. This is something that small businesses often overlook. By catering to demographic differences, you are likely to succeed in penetrating new markets and diversifying your income streams.

2. How Can You Gain Insights About The Target Demographics?

Jumping into a market that you don’t understand can:

  • Pose potential damage to your brand reputation.
  • Even worse, accidentally offend your new target audience.

So, before you venture to a new country and market your products, get to know the culture first! Learning the cultural nuances, imagery, and more is great, to begin with. This should help you get an idea of not only what the country is like, but also how big the potential market is.

The best way to comprehend a new culture is by working with a local partner, a native, or sending someone to physically stay in that market. You want to highlight the needs and desired values of your new customers. Accurate, localized experience and feedback should bring you some insights about customers’ demands and preferences, main competition, or the selling point to target.

Understanding the people and culture of a new country leaves an immense impact on your localization strategy. This is literally the frame for everything you do after. So tread carefully!

3. How Can You Maximize Translation Proficiency?

Language is the key to communicating with your new markets. That makes translating your content, marketing messages, and social media accounts an integral part of the localization strategy. Of course, there are tons of website translation solutions that offer machine translation of your content. But, to keep it natural and local-like, do employ a ‘human’ element! Hire a native speaker or a linguist expert to look over “machine” translations to ensure all the nuances and idioms familiar to your new audience are correct.

localized German website

Help global customers understand your message by translating it into their mother tongue.

Here’s another thing you should translate as well, imagery. Opt for familiar scenes or images with your new audience. Once you’ve sorted out the content localization side of things, don’t forget about multilingual SEO. Practices like targeting language and location through Hreflang tag, running dedicated domains, or conducting multilingual keyword research through native speakers will benefit you greatly. Remember, quality content doesn’t mean anything if you’re not found on the Internet.

4. How Can You Outshine Your Competitors?

In order to take out the competitors, you’ll have to find refreshingly creative ways to stand out. Offer your audience something that no other brand has yet. A cost-effective way to capture a market is by creating value-added services. Offer customers better support, discounts, or more reliable processes (free shipping, on-time delivery, for example). Find the spot where a local competitor has become complacent, then jump in and win over potential customers by giving them a better deal.

5. How Can You Create Content For Each Foreign Market?

Different markets like different things when it comes to content marketing. Taking another approach to details, such as the tone and language of your brand messaging, might be a must for new markets. Use the insights from your consumer research to pinpoint cultural differences, taboos, or events you need to be aware of in your localization process.

Also, localize your communication channels to target the right audience. We all know that using social media for marketing is one of the most-used inbound marketing strategies nowadays. But you can’t possibly use just Facebook or Twitter for everything. Target the specific ones that your new audience is most active on to get involved in the local community.

To illustrate, Korean people use a dedicated platform to stay connected, called KaKao. If you want to branch out there, this is what to go for, not Facebook. Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of the initial consumer-focused research.

3 Tips To Localize Like A Pro

#1 Leverage The Local Holidays

Besides international sale occasions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, local holidays present incredible opportunities to upsell your products. Let’s take the incoming US Independence Day as an example. Runderwear, a UK-based running underwear brand, is running a dedicated promotion on their US site to celebrate July 4th.

As you expand, consider local festivities that customers in your target market celebrate. They have the power to influence sales. To keep track of important holidays, create an international marketing calendar with key dates that your localized store can take advantage of. Here’s a great localized marketing calendar template to inspire you!

#2 Be An Active Member Of The Community

Your presence in a new market reminds people that you’re there. The best way to do so is to keep abreast of current events and help communities in times of need. Donating to a nation’s cause or giving a hand during a time of need will be appreciated. Don’t just notify about your products. Instead, seek out moments where you can connect with customers and give back to the local community.

Just do good deeds for the communities. For instance, Ivory Ella donates 10% of all the company’s sales of its clothing and accessories to savetheelephants.org. Or Camilla, a US-based fashion brand, donates $1 from every online order to three charities; The Hunger Project in Bangladesh, Women’s Community Shelters in Australia, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

#3 Testing Is The Key

Always check and double-check what you’ve localized, whether it’s your product description or the entire website. Make sure there are no broken links, misspellings, or incorrect translations. For extra safety precautions, bring in someone from the new region to test your work. Fix any errors that may weaken the customer experience. Common mistakes like incorrectly translated emails or missing payment methods preferred by shoppers in that new market should be tackled immediately. Finally, run A/B tests to find the best converting elements on your localized sites using tools like Shogun, Dexter, and ShipScout.

localization strategy testing

Make sure your localized website looks the best before launching it!

Top Shopify Apps That Help You Localize

Finding the right tools to aid your conquering a new market can be daunting. Luckily, e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, provide merchants with various third-party apps that make the process much easier. So, if you’re planning an expansion for your Shopify store, the following apps could be of great help.

#1 Shopify Markets

Well, technically, this is not an app. It’s a cross-border management tool that helps you localize your e-commerce store, made by Shopify. Shopify Markets allows you to showcase product prices in more than 130 global currencies, manage subdomains and subfolders without cannibalizing search presence, translate your website using third-party translation apps, and more. This “whole package” of a tool will definitely make your localization plan execution more efficient.

shopify markets

#2 Langify

As we have established above, language translation plays a major role in localization. And Langify is one of the best at what it does. It will automate translating your Shopify store content into multi-languages and display prices in matching currency according to the shopper’s location. It’s a very effective way to increase satisfaction and conversion rates.

langify app for shopify

👉👉👉 Find out more about Shopify multi-language apps.

#3 Ultimate Trust Badges

Online shoppers are quick to dismiss a store they don’t trust. Help them reach their purchase decision by adding trust badges, ensuring consumers that your store is secure and reliable.

ulitmate trust badge for shopify

The Ultimate Trust Badges app offers a fast CDN-based performance that brings hundreds of trust badges in a variety of segments. Whether it’s Credit Card Providers, Banks, or Currencies, this application will always provide a safe and assuring experience to customers in different parts of the world.

#4 BEST Currency Converter

This application adds over 160 currencies with the push of a button. The prices are converted automatically based on your customers’ location. The BEST Currency Converter app creates a pleasant and easy shopping experience. By helping your customers shop in their local currency, you can decrease frustration and cart abandonment effectively.

best currency converter for shopify

| Recommended article: An in-depth comparison of Shopify multi-currency apps.

#5 Store Pickup + Delivery

The Store Pickup + Delivery app helps you manage your in-store pickup orders for locals with their own choices of date, time, and a bunch of order management features. You can control the local delivery area by specifying zip codes. Schedule shipping for specific products and dates of the year according to your settings.

shipping+ for shopify

To Wrap It Up!

Planning a localization strategy is like falling in love. It starts with understanding your target and knowing what you can offer to them. Build your relationship from the ground up, always testing new things to learn what’s right in each foreign market. If you’re confident with the research, time to put everything into practice.

Here are a few key takeaways to help you build your next successful localization strategy:

  • Get to know your new market with consumer-focused research.
  • Hire a native partner that can go with you in the long run.
  • Localize content naturally and distribute it on appropriate channels
  • Outshine your competition by offering unique value-added services.
Thorin Tran
Search Marketing Specialist
June 17, 2024
6 min read