[intro] When you have completed this Guide, you will have looked at the different ways it is possible to incorporate foreign languages on your EKM online shop and selected the right one for your business and your brand. [/intro]

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If you want to sell your Products to countries outside of your own, you’ll no doubt be thinking about how your EKM online shop translates to customers where the English language is not their mother tongue.

There’s a number of different ways that you can do this, and all of the suggestions depend on your budget and the demand for your Products abroad. Before we begin to discuss the different methods where foreign language translation can be employed, it’s important to consider some of the potential problems involved with this issue.

Do I even need to Translate?

Before you begin to think about translations on your EKM online shop, you need to consider if it is worth it:

  1. Are you using a traffic monitoring platform such as Google Analytics on your EKM online shop? This will reveal the number of customers that are situated in foreign countries. This will reveal whether the demand for your Products is high enough to warrant translations.
  2. Is translation even necessary? Dependent on the Products that you sell on your EKM online shop, it might not be. For example, if your shop sells fresh flowers and you can only ship them to the Greater Manchester area, then there’s no point in translating your content into another language. However, if you own a shop which sells vintage car parts and you ship worldwide, it may be worth considering translating your content.
  3. If you do have a significant amount of custom from a foreign country, is it enough to warrant translation?
  4. If there’s a lot of demand for your Products in a foreign country, it may be worth considering a long-term strategy to market your Products in that specific area.

Translating in different ways

There are three main ways that an online shop can be translated:

  1. Browsers;
  2. Third-party code;
  3. Human Translator.

Browsers

Browsers are all capable of translating websites and online shops into English. Google Chrome performs this task automatically:

Whereas Microsoft Edge requires an extension to be installed first:

Pro

  1. You don’t need to install anything;
  2. Free.

Cons

  1. The translations may be of low-quality;
  2. Text in images is not translated;
  3. On some browsers, you are relying on customers having extensions installed in order for them to translate your shop.

Third-party code

There’s a whole wealth of different third-party platforms available online which can help you translate text from English to another language. The most popular of the free versions is the now discontinued Google Translate, but at the time of writing, Bing’s Translator Widget is still available.

All of these third-party platforms require you to add specific code to the header of your EKM online shop and once they’re up and running, customers are usually presented with a window or similar which is visible in front of your EKM online shop which is situated somewhere near the top of the homepage:

Pros

  1. Free or a small monthly fee;
  2. Easy to set up.

Cons

  1. Free does not equal quality;
  2. Is quite impersonal;
  3. Text in images is not translated - some images might not be suitable for foreign markets;
  4. Can negatively affect the look of your EKM online shop;
  5. Can be considered unprofessional;
  6. Product descriptions may become misleading or unintentionally false;
  7. There’s the potential risk of offending foreign customers with content in their own language that has been effectively ‘butchered’.

Automatic vs Human Translations

Sentence Structure

Automatic translators work by translating individual words, without adopting the sentence structure of the language that the words are being translated to, so differences do occur.

As an example, here is a Product Description in English:

  • Made from sustainable resources, this 100% cotton t-shirt is unisex and an ideal basic to any capsule wardrobe. Available in three different colours: burgundy, green and mustard.
  • Washing instructions: Wash at 40 degrees. Cool iron. Do not tumble dry.

If this text is translated by a native speaker into French and then back the English again, the sentence structure has changed slightly:

  • In material of sustainable resources, the T-shirt of cotton pure of 100% is unisex and essential for all wardrobes. Available in three colours different- burgundy, green and yellow mustard.
  • Instructions of cleaning: Wash in machine at 40°. Iron soft. Not the tumble dryer.

This also applies to Spanish too. Here, I’ve had a native Spanish speaker translate the English Product Description into Spanish and then back to English, retaining the foreign sentence structure:

  • Done from materials sustainable, this T-shirt of cotton of 100% is unisex and essential for all wardrobes. Available in three colours- of colour burgundy, green and mustard.
  • Instructions of washed- Wash in the machine at 40 degrees. Iron in cold. No dry in dryer.

When you look at both the Spanish and the French sentence structures above, you'll quickly be able to tell that the grammar and punctuation is not correct. This is how a foreign language visitor reads your content when it has been translated word-by-word from English to their own language, whatever it may be. Although some of the information is correct, some of it is vague and the overall Product Description is not the high quality you need it to be in order to instill customer confidence.

Individual Words

Whilst selling a plain t-shirt, this difference might not appear particularly remarkable, however for complex products this is something that as a shop owner you need to consider as it’s not just the sentence structure that matters, but words that can be literally ‘lost in translation’ due to processing from the English language into a foreign one by an automatic translator.

As another example, here’s the same Product Description in English:

  • Made from sustainable resources, this 100% cotton t-shirt is unisex and an ideal basic to any capsule wardrobe.
  • Available in three different colours: burgundy, green and mustard.
  • Washing instructions: Wash at 40 degrees. Cool iron. Do not tumble dry.

Here’s the same text when processed into French through Bing Translator:

  • Fabriqué à partir de ressources durables, ce t-shirt en coton de 100% est unisexe et constitue une base idéale pour toute armoire à capsules.
  • Disponible en trois couleurs différentes: Bourgogne, vert et moutarde.
  • Instructions de lavage: laver à 40 degrés. Du fer frais. Ne pas sécher au sèche-linge.

And this is the same text, but this time translated by a native French speaker:

  • En matière de resources renouvelables, cet T-shirt de coton pur à 100% est unisexe et l’essentiel pour tous les vestiaires.
  • Disponible en trois couleurs différents- bordeaux, vert et jaune moutarde. 
  • Instructions de lavage: Lavez en machine à 40º. Repassage doux. Pas de sèche ligne.

Whether you speak French or not, you’ll notice that when you compare both the human and automatic translations, the order of the words has changed in some places and in some cases, there are completely different words that are being used.

It’s not just French either- the same issue occurs when we translate the text into Spanish:

Again, here’s that Product Description:

  • Made from sustainable resources, this 100% cotton t-shirt is unisex and an ideal basic to any capsule wardrobe.
  • Available in three different colours: burgundy, green and mustard.
  • Washing instructions: Wash at 40 degrees. Cool iron. Do not tumble dry.

Here’s that same text after being processed by Bing Translator:

  • Elaborada con recursos sostenibles, esta camiseta de algodón de 100% es unisex y es ideal para cualquier armario de cápsulas. 
  • Disponible en tres colores diferentes: Borgoña, verde y mostaza.
  • Instrucciones de lavado: lavar a 40 grados. Hierro fresco. No secar en secadora.

And here’s the same Product Description translated by a native Spanish speaker:

  • Hecho de materiales sustentables, esta camiseta de algodón de 100% es unisex e imprescindible para todos armarios.
  • Disponible en tres colores- de color borgoña, verde y mostaza.
  • Instrucciones de lavado- Lavar a máquina a 40 grados. Plancha en frío. No secar en secadora.

Human translation is the correct way to go in terms of clarity and precision when words are being processed, as a human being can take into account correct usage. This method also provides your foreign customers with the best possible shopping experience as all content is in their own native language.

Professional Translators

If you have relied on the previous two methods for translation and the demand for your products within foreign markets has increased, you now need to consider whether to remain simply translating or rewrite completely? Professional translators:

  • Have a quick turnaround time;
  • Offer high-quality translations;
  • Use the correct grammar and punctuation for the target language;
  • Can be very affordable;
  • Allow you to create images with text in the target language;
  • Provide the best possible shopping experience for your foreign language customers.

To find a reliable native speaker to translate for you can be done in a number of ways; if you’re lucky enough to know someone who is a native speaker of your target language, then you need to ask them nicely. Alternatively, running a search for ‘language translation for my website’ will provide hundreds of websites where you pay a fee - often per word - for your content to be translated. Alternatively, there’s plenty of individuals on Fiverr.com that provide language translation - and some of these are cheaper than using a large company for the same task.

When you approach an individual to translate your content, you need to create a list of all of the words that are currently in use on your current EKM online shop. This includes:

  1. Text in images - such as Design Images and Category Images;
  2. Homepage text;
  3. Product Descriptions;
  4. Category Descriptions;
  5. The content from all of your Webpages;
  6. Category Names in the menu;
  7. The different buttons and fields on the Cart Page and Checkout Flow;
  8. The text on the Order Complete pages.

When you’ve had your content translated by a native speaker of the target language, the next step is to create a foreign version of your own EKM online shop.

To do this, you will need to purchase a domain name for the country your foreign EKM online shop is targetting. This is not something you can purchase from EKM Domains as we only supply English domain names.

For example, if your EKM online shop URL was www.evestestshop.co.uk, the French version of the same content would need to be www.evestestshop.fr (where the ‘fr’ stands for France). Once you have purchased a foreign version of your domain specific to the country that you’re targetting, you then need to organise a Shop Copy. You will then be able to edit the English content on the Shop Copy and replace it with your foreign language translations.

[tips] If you have more than one version of your shop in different languages, it is best practice to include hyperlinked images, such as the relevant flags, within the header of each version. This allows customers to click to reach the different versions of your content. A good example of this in action can be seen on the Timber Tones EKM online shop, where the same shop has both Italian and Spanish versions: 

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[contact] If you need our help with your EKM online shop, contact your Account Manager or Customer Support, who will be able to point you in the right direction. We're open from 8am-6pm weekdays and 9am-5.30pm on the weekends. If you'd like to suggest a feature or an upgrade on any of the EKM platforms, please let us know on the EKM Suggestions board. If you have a non-account specific question ask the EKM Team, join us in EKM Community.  [/contact]