In this article, you will learn what are the most common mistakes when translating e-commerce websites.

Translation of e-commerce websites makes the influx of customers from abroad much faster and more effective. Many users prefer to shop in their native language. A good translation of your online store into different languages can make it much more accessible and pleasant to use globally, and thus significantly increase your income.

Unfortunately, we often come across online stores translated in a lousy way and it is visible to the naked eye what mistakes have been made. In this article, you will learn what mistakes are often made and how to prevent them.

Choosing the wrong tool or an inexperienced translator.

The biggest mistake when translating e-commerce websites is choosing automatic translators or buying services from inexperienced translators. Often the result is texts full of calques that do not take into account cultural differences and the existence of idioms. Each of us has seen examples from Chinese e-commerce sites that become memes, and yes, it is connected in a way to gaining popularity, but also with the association of very poor quality. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence and it can cost you customers and damage your brand in the eyes of the foreign market. 

Lack of market analysis and use of appropriate keywords.

If you decide to translate your e-commerce website, you must remember that the foreign market may differ significantly from ours. Ask yourself: Which countries will I start attracting customers from? What should you focus on when translating for a given country? What does SEO look like there and what keywords will dominate there? You must remember that not only trends change, but also language, so your website will have to be regularly updated in this respect.

Incoherent brand message.

Owners of online businesses often count on hiring a copywriter or UX writer who will create content in the right style that matches the message of the brand. However, when translated incorrectly, this style disappears and the reception of the website by foreign users will be completely different from the reception by our compatriots. It is important to use CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools, i.e. memoQ or Memsource, which will effectively help you build language databases with vocabulary that matches the style of your e-commerce website. Thanks to such a base, there will be no problem with translating further texts in the future.

Accurate knowledge of the entire database of texts from the site and vocabulary used in the industry.

Many translators make the mistake of translating without properly getting to know the source material. It is not enough to have a database of texts that appear on the website, packed into one file. We need to get to know the mechanics of the website, do research on a given market in Poland and abroad, and choose the right vocabulary. More than once, I encountered errors on websites that resulted solely from the fact that the translator never clicked on the link and did not check the context in which the given text occurred, and instead relied on a large text file that he thoughtlessly translated. Remember that language is alive and should be treated as such. Let’s leave rigid rules and formulas to mathematicians.

Owners of online businesses often count on hiring a copywriter who will create content in the right style that matches the message of the brand.

No global translation.

If you decide to enter a foreign market, you must take into account the fact that the translation should apply to everything on your website. Do not omit graphics containing text (it is best to ask your graphic designer to make the graphics again, or at least add a caption with a translation under the graphics), remember about legal clauses, and above all, keep in mind CTA buttons (very important, but often overlooked).

Using the wrong form of dates and times, and not adjusting the currency and method of payment to a given country.

When we try to do shopping in an American online store, we often have a problem with currency conversion. We are looking for the current exchange rate, but in the end, we will know the exact price from our bank statement. This can be very irritating, so to make shopping easier for customers, it is worth thinking about entering the location on the page and the corresponding forms of date, time and currency. This is not entirely a problem related to the translation, but it is always worth asking the translator for advice on what forms to introduce on the website and whether it will be important to adapt the appropriate payment method to the given country.

No quality checks or tests before publishing the translated version of the store.

If you are using the services of a translation agency for the first time, apply the principle of limited trust and ask that all texts be checked at least twice and by two different people. After entering them on the website, ask the office to check how the texts look because it is possible that some fragments will need to be edited to make them look more aesthetic. Also, make sure that the mechanics of the site are the same as in the Polish version. Run tests and make sure that all buttons and subpages work properly and that languages do not mix anywhere. Try not to hurry with the publication, because it’s better to check the page three times and release it in perfect condition than to post it half-translated and get a Chinese e-commerce effect that will scare away customers.

Translations of e-commerce websites are a mix of cultural knowledge, linguistic familiarity and a technological approach that keeps up with the market. Never underestimate the power of language and do not try to save money on translations, because, in the end, it can cost you a fortune.