Do I Need Translation or Localization for My Ecommerce Store?

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Written by

Chidinma Egwuogu

The rise of ecommerce has made the marketplace global, with the potential to reach customers in any corner of the world.

But with this comes a question — do I need translation or localization for my ecommerce store?

While translation can help your content reach a broader audience, localization goes a step further by attempting to connect with your customers in a deeper, more personal way.

In this guide, we'll explain what ecommerce localization is, when you might need it, and how it can help your online store reach new heights — international ones.

Pro tip: Language barriers causing customer churn? Centus provides a user-friendly platform to manage and automate translations, making your content accessible to all markets. Learn more.

Let's get started.

-What is ecommerce localization?

-When do you need ecommerce localization?

-Benefits of ecommerce localization

-Elements to localize in your ecommerce store

-Best practices for ecommerce localization

-How to localize a Shopify store

-How to localize a WordPress store

-How to localize a Wix store

What is Ecommerce Localization?

What is ecommerce localization?

Ecommerce localization is the process of customizing your ecommerce store's content and services for different geographic regions. It involves adjusting to local languages, cultural subtleties, payment preferences, and legal restrictions in order to create a personalized and seamless purchasing experience for international markets.

When Do You Need eCommerce Localization?

Understanding whether you need translation, localization, or a blend of both for your ecommerce store depends on your business goals, your target audience, and the markets you want to enter.

translation vs Localization for ecommerce

Translation can be a cost-effective way to make your content understandable to a broader audience. And there may be instances where translation could suffice, such as when you're targeting regions where English is widely spoken or where cultural differences are minimal.

However, as the internet continues to erode our borders, business owners are discovering that merely translating their content may not be enough. To truly connect with international customers and stand out in competitive markets, a deeper, more nuanced approach is needed.

This approach is called localization.

Localization tailors your ecommerce platform not just to the language but also to the culture, customs, and consumer habits of a specific region. Here are a few scenarios where localization is crucial:

  • Entering non-English markets: If your target market primarily speaks a language other than English, providing information in their native language can significantly boost their trust and increase the likelihood of purchases.

  • Targeting culturally diverse markets: Cultural differences can greatly influence consumer behavior. If you're targeting exotic markets, ensure you cater to local customs, values, and norms.

  • Expanding to regions with different legal/economic systems: Regions differ in taxation, privacy regulations, and preferred payment methods. Imagine your customers filling their carts and not being able to pay because you don’t offer familiar payment providers. Localizing your payment processes solves this.

In short, if you're looking for international ecommerce success, your focus should shift from the translation vs. localization paradigm. Instead, you need to recognize translation as the first step, with localization offering a more comprehensive, customer-oriented second step.

Benefits of Ecommerce Localization

Localization unlocks numerous benefits for your business. They include:

1. Increased global reach: Localization acts as a bridge to international audiences. Research shows that a massive 76% of online consumers prefer to purchase products with information in their local language. Communicating in your customers' language serves as a warm welcome to your diverse audience in new countries, and puts them at ease.

2. Rapid expansion: According to Shopify Plus' Commerce Trends 2023 report, cross-border shopping is expected to account for 17% of ecommerce sales by 2023.

An effectively localized ecommerce store can help your business grow at an exponential rate. Localization helps tap into new markets, and with each market comes a new customer base.

3. Better customer loyalty: Localization can help build a more dedicated customer base. When shoppers feel valued and understood, they're likely to stick around. Customers prefer brands that provide personalized recommendations, which localization effectively achieves.

4. Larger market share: Localization can give your brand a competitive advantage, helping you carve out a larger slice of the market pie. Netflix, for instance, has localized its service in over 190 countries, offering content that caters to regional tastes and languages. By doing so, they've managed to capture a larger audience and dominate the global streaming market.

5. Better conversion rates: A localized shopping experience is more likely to convert visitors into buyers. If your international customers see prices in their local currency and measurements in familiar units, they'll be more comfortable making a purchase. Statista reported that 13% of shoppers abandon their cart if the price is in a foreign currency, underscoring the importance of even the minutest aspects of localization.

6. Improved customer satisfaction: Localization helps you provide a better customer experience, which translates into greater customer satisfaction. When customers see that their local preferences are understood and respected, they feel valued and enjoy a better shopping experience.

7. International brand recognition: When your ecommerce store speaks the local language and understands local customs and traditions, it stands out from the crowd. This unique approach not only draws in the local audience but also sets your brand apart, making it more recognizable and memorable.

Localization isn't just a good move for your ecommerce store — it's a game-changer.

It's an authentic way to connect with customers across the globe and build a worldwide community that knows and trusts your brand. In turn, all these lead to loyal customers, a bigger market share, and a boost in international sales.

Elements to Localize In Your Ecommerce Store

Getting localization right means going the extra mile to ensure that all aspects of your online store resonate with your international customers. Let's take a look at some of the critical elements that you should localize for your ecommerce store:


Your prices aren't just figures; they're messages. They communicate the value of your product to your customers. However, it's crucial to remember that:

  • Different countries have different economies.

  • The cost of living varies dramatically worldwide.

  • You should also factor in your profit.

For instance, Netflix has different prices for its customers in different parts of the world.

Screenshot of Netflix Nigeria and UK’s pricing

So, simply converting prices into local currency isn't enough. You need to understand the local economy and adjust your prices accordingly. For example, what seems reasonable in the US may be unaffordable in developing countries. Price localization isn't just about exchange rates — it's about affordability and value.


A picture speaks a thousand words, but it’s important that yours speak the right ones. While visual content has a significant impact on customer engagement, it needs to be handled with care. It's essential to remember:

  • Colors and symbols have different meanings in different cultures.

  • The way people, families, and even food are depicted can vary widely.

Ensure that your graphics are culturally appropriate to genuinely connect with your audience. McDonald's, for instance, changes its website design and graphics based on the country it is being accessed from. For instance, the McDonald's India website uses different imagery and colors compared to the McDonald's US site, reflecting different cultural preferences.

The image below visualizes the distinction between McDonald's India and McDonald's US websites:

Screenshot collage of McDonald’s US and India pages

Website language

Your website text is more than a source of information. It’s a key element of your brand’s voice and identity. Here's everything to consider when localizing your ecommerce site’s language:

  • Product descriptions and reviews: These should not just be translated but localized, taking into account local idioms, cultural references, and appropriate tone.

  • Navigation menus: Every label, menu item, and help text should be localized to ensure ease of navigation for users from different cultural backgrounds.

  • Call-to-actions (CTAs): The language, tone, and even color of your CTAs may need to change. For instance, in China, red is an auspicious color. However, in general color theory, it signifies anger and danger.

  • Forms and surveys: Every part of a form, from labels and instructions to error messages, should be localized. This will improve the user experience and the accuracy of the data collected.

  • Blogs and articles: Localizing your content marketing materials ensures that they resonate with readers from different regions, increasing their impact and effectiveness.

  • FAQs and help sections: Customer support materials such as FAQs or help documents need to be localized to provide effective support to international shoppers.

  • Privacy policies and terms of service: You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law. Legal documents must not only be translated accurately but also need to comply with local laws and regulations.

  • Emails and notifications: Communication sent directly to the customer, such as confirmation emails, newsletters, or notifications, should be localized to improve readability and engagement.

It's essential to also consider local language nuances, cultural references, humor, and colloquialisms while localizing these text elements. These factors play a significant role in making your website's text not just informative but homegrown. Don’t rush the process.

Currency payment methods

Accepting payments in a customer's local currency can drastically improve their shopping experience and conversion rates. It eliminates the hassle of manual currency conversion and provides a seamless checkout experience. In 2020, a survey by CSA revealed that only 48% of ecommerce customers with no English-language competence will prefer a lower price to an unlocalized shopping experience.

Aliexpress Page showing different currencies

However, the currency is only part of the puzzle.

Different countries have different preferred methods of payment. While credit cards might be popular in the United States, in countries like Germany and the Netherlands, direct debits and bank transfers are more common. In China, mobile payment services like WeChat Pay and Alipay are popular. Therefore, to truly localize your e-commerce store, you must adapt to local payment preferences.

SEO metadata

What’s the use of localizing an ecommerce store if no one can find it online?

SEO metadata includes title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text, all of which are vital for your site's search engine visibility. When localizing your website, it's essential to perform keyword research for your target market and update your SEO metadata accordingly.

This ensures that your site appears in search results for relevant queries in the local language. For instance, a shoe store that simply translates 'women's shoes' into Spanish as 'zapatos de mujer' might miss out on traffic from users in Spain searching for 'zapatos para damas (ladies’ shoes).'

Customer support

Localizing customer support involves more than just providing multilingual support. It's about understanding the cultural context of your customers and adjusting your support accordingly. This might involve changing your customer support hours to match the time zone of your target market, marking out local holidays when your customers might require additional support, and training your support team to handle cultural nuances effectively.

According to Zendesk, 81% of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases their chances of making another purchase. So, providing localized customer support can significantly boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Best Practices for Ecommerce Localization

Ecommerce localization is a significant step forward for any international online business. It requires a strategic approach and an understanding of ecommerce localization best practices to really get it right.

Here are some tips to consider when localizing your ecommerce store:

Perform market research

Before you start localizing your ecommerce business offerings, it's crucial to understand your target market inside and out. Your market research should involve an in-depth analysis of various factors including:

  • Website analysis: Don’t just jump into localization. Check if you need to localize first. Perform a website analysis to see where the majority of your international customers come from and if it’s worth the trouble.

  • Customer preferences: Understand what your target customers like and dislike. Learn the products they use, the price range they're comfortable with, their preferred payment methods, and the type of content they engage with.

  • Competitors: Examine your competitors who are already operating in the region. Learn from their strategies and mistakes. You can use tools like SimilarWeb or Ahrefs to get insights into your competitors' performance and tactics.

  • Market trends: Be aware of the current trends and demands of the market. This can help you to offer the right products and services at the right time.

Consider cultural differences

This goes beyond just knowing the local language. It involves an appreciation of societal norms, traditional values, religious beliefs, and historical context. For instance, certain colors or symbols may have different connotations in different cultures. This cultural sensitivity can help inform decisions about website design, product offerings, marketing materials, and more.

Research regional localization laws

Just as each country has its own culture, it also has its own laws and regulations, especially when it comes to ecommerce and digital transactions. Be sure to research:

  • Data privacy laws: Different regions have different rules around data collection, storage, and usage. For instance, companies operating in the European Union must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) .

  • Ecommerce regulations: Some countries might have restrictions on the type of products that can be sold online, or images you can display on your products, and others may have specific requirements for digital transactions.

  • Tax laws: Taxes, including sales tax and Value Added Tax (VAT), can vary dramatically between countries and even between regions within countries. Make sure to understand the tax obligations in your target markets before localizing.

Localize your social media

Social media is a key tool for driving traffic to your ecommerce site and engaging with your customers. Research and consider your customers’ platform preferences when localizing your social media. For example, while Facebook and Instagram might be popular in the United States, WeChat and Weibo are the go-to platforms in China.

Remember to provide regionally-preferred localized content and ensure your social media strategy aligns with local etiquette.

Avoid hardcoded measurement units

When designing an ecommerce website for international markets, it's easy to forget that not everyone uses the same units of measurement. For example, if your website provides measurements in feet and inches, a customer used to the metric system could find them confusing.

Instead of putting these values directly into your website code, known as 'hardcoding', use a system that automatically changes units based on where your customer is. This can mean swapping between pounds and kilograms or between miles and kilometers, creating a more familiar and seamless experience for your customers.

Build the right team

Localization isn't a one-person job. It requires a group of people with different skills all working towards the same goal: making your ecommerce store appealing and accessible to customers from different cultures and languages. Your ideal localization team should have:

  • Localization managers: These are the people who make sure everything runs smoothly. They manage the process from start to finish, making sure all the different parts come together at the right time.

  • Translators: Your translators need to be fluent in the languages you're translating into. They also need to understand the culture of the countries those languages are spoken in. This way, they can make sure your website speaks to your customers in a way they'll understand and appreciate.

  • Marketers: Marketers who understand the local market will know how to promote your products effectively. They can tailor your marketing strategy to what works best in each locale.

  • Customer support staff: Having customer support staff who can speak your customers' language is crucial. Not only can they solve problems more efficiently, but they can also provide a better customer experience.

Make local SEO a priority

When you're entering a new market, one of the most important things you can do is make sure people can find you online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps your website show up in search results when people look for the products or services you offer. But remember, people in different regions might use different words or phrases to search for these products.

Here are some ways you can boost your local SEO:

  • Keyword research: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to find out what words or phrases people in your target market are using when they search for products like yours.

  • On-page SEO: Once you've found your keywords, make sure to include them in your website content. This includes your page titles, descriptions, and the content itself.

  • Build local backlinks: Try to get other websites in your target region to link to your site. This can help boost your website's authority and visibility in local search results.

  • Mobile optimization: Lastly, make sure your website looks and works great on mobile devices. This is especially important in regions where most people use their phones to go online.

Craft localized marketing content

Just as your products and website need to be localized, so does your marketing content. Localized content shows your customers that you understand and value their culture. This can make them more likely to engage with your brand and, ultimately, make a purchase. Here are some ways to localize your marketing content:

  • Blog posts and articles: Write about topics that resonate with your local audience. This could be anything from local events to cultural traditions.

  • Social media: Use local languages, references, and humor in your posts. Also, be aware of the social media platforms popular in your target markets. It may vary widely from what you're used to.

  • Emails: Personalize your emails based on the recipient's location. This can be as simple as sending them holiday greetings based on local holidays, or as complex as tailoring your product recommendations based on local trends.

For more information on crafting localized content, read our comprehensive guide on localization in marketing.

Localize your shopping cart

Not only should your customers be able to navigate the checkout process with ease, but they should also feel that the experience is personalized to their region.

This includes:

  • Currency conversion: Automatically convert product prices to the local currency. This helps customers understand the cost and avoid confusion.

  • Locale-specific instructions: Are there local delivery instructions or customs information that your customers need to know? Include this information in the checkout process.

  • Preferred payment methods: Various regions have different preferred payment methods. Research and offer the most popular ones in your target market to increase the likelihood of purchase completion.

Test, update, and perfect

Localize once and let it go? No. It is an iterative process.

After every localization, check everything from the translated content to the functionality of your ecommerce store to find areas requiring improvement. The forms of testing include:

  • A/B tests: Conduct A/B tests on your localized sites to determine the best-converting elements.

  • Usability testing: Get local users to test your website and provide feedback. This can reveal issues you might not have noticed.

  • Sentiment analysis: Use sentiment analysis tools to monitor what people are saying about your brand in different languages. This can give you insight into how well your localization efforts are being received.

Again, remember that localization is not a one-time process. It requires continuous effort and updates based on feedback and performance. Learn more about localization testing here.

Consistency in branding

Creating an international presence doesn't mean you need to reinvent your brand for each market. The key is to ensure a unified brand image across all localized versions of your site. Even though the language and some details may vary to suit different cultures, the core of your brand, its values, and its message should be uniform. For instance,

  • Brand identity: Your logo, brand colors, and even fonts should remain unchanged across all versions. It helps your audience identify your brand, no matter where they are accessing it from. Ikea’s consistent use of its iconic yellow and blue colors has made it one of the most recognizable brands internationally.

  • Brand messaging: Your brand's core message and values shouldn't get lost in translation. It's essential to convey the same meaning and sentiment in all languages to maintain the brand's integrity. Durex has the same message no matter the region — sex should be safe, consensual, and enjoyable for all parties involved.

Keeping a unified brand image helps instill trust in your audience, building long-term customer loyalty and potentially boosting sales.

Use a good localization service provider

When expanding your business into the global ecommerce market, having a capable localization service provider or translation management system (TMS) can be your secret to success. It also saves you a lot of time and money. Here's what you should be looking for when choosing one:

  • Expertise: Look for a provider with a track record in ecommerce localization, who understands the unique challenges of your industry, and offers bespoke solutions.

  • Technological capabilities: Your translation management service provider should have the latest tools and technology.

This includes:

  • Localization management platforms to facilitate collaboration among team members.

  • Systems that support different file formats for seamless sharing.

  • Ability to integrate with other software to streamline processes.

  • Translation memory

  • Glossaries

  • Quality assurance: They should offer strict quality control processes to maintain your brand's integrity across markets.

  • Affordable but scalable: Pick a provider that supports your budget and scales as you grow.

Pro tip: Centus has extensive experience in ecommerce localization and provides a suite of tools to help you efficiently scale your operations across multiple markets. Learn more.

How to Localize the Top 3 Ecommerce Platforms

We’ve covered everything you need to localize your ecommerce site and provided general tips to help you with the process. Now we’re doing something a little more specific.

Here’s how to localize your Shopify, WordPress, and Wix ecommerce stores.

Shopify Store's Ecommerce Localization

Shopify localization

Source: Shopify

Before you begin the localization process of your Shopify store, ensure you meet the following requirements:

  • You must have the Basic Shopify plan or higher.

  • Your theme should be compatible with selling in multiple languages. All free Shopify themes are compatible, but you might need to update your theme if necessary.

  • Your theme must have a language selector. If not, add one using the Geolocation app by Shopify.

  • You need to install the Shopify Translate & Adapt app or a compatible third-party translation app. Alternatively, you can import translations directly into Shopify through CSV files.

  • Remember to optimize your URLs and SEO for different languages.

Once these requirements are in place, here is a step-by-step guide to localize your Shopify store:

Step 1: Translate your store content

Step 2: Customize currency settings

  • From your Shopify admin, go to "Settings", then "Payments."

  • Under the "Payment providers" section, select "Manage" in the "Shopify Payments" section.

  • In the "Countries/regions" section, select "Add countries/regions" and choose your desired countries.

  • Check "Automatically show prices in the local currency," then click "Save."

Step 3: Optimize SEO for different languages

Shopify automatically gives each translated (and published) language a subdomain of its own, once you use the international domains feature in Shopify Markets. Shopify also automatically adds hreflang tags, and includes all published languages in sitemaps.

Step 4: Localize your checkout process

  • Navigate to "Settings", then "Checkout."

  • In the "Checkout language" section, select "Manage checkout language" to customize your checkout language.

  • For payment gateways, shipping, and tax settings, navigate to the respective sections under "Settings" to localize.

Step 5: Set up geolocation app

  • Download Shopify's Geolocation app from the Shopify App Store.

  • Once installed, it will automatically recommend the right language and currency to your customers based on their location.

WordPress Store's Ecommerce Localization

Wordpress localization

Source: Wordpress

For those using WordPress ecommerce stores, here's a comprehensive guide to their localization:

Step 1: Install a multilingual plugin

  • Your WordPress theme should support multilingual features.

  • From your WordPress dashboard, select "Plugins", then "Add New."

  • Search and install a multilingual plugin like WPML, Polylang or TranslatePress.

Step 2: Translate your website content

  • Navigate to the settings page of the plugin.

  • Choose the languages into which you want to translate your website.

  • Translate your website content, products, and tags manually or automatically, based on the features provided by the plugin.

  • Install an addon like WooCommerce Multilingual (for WPML users) or Hyyan WooCommerce Polylang Integration (for Polylang users) to localize product pages, cart, and checkout process.

Step 3: Set language and currency

  • Use your multilingual plugin’s geotargeting feature to set the language of your website based on the user's browser settings or IP location.

  • Some plugins also come with language and currency switchers, so users can customize their experience.

Step 4: Localize SEO

  • Translate your SEO metadata and URLs for each language.

  • Use hreflang tags in your site’s header

  • Consider using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, which is compatible with most multilingual plugins.

For more information on localizing your WordPress store, read our detailed guide here.

Wix Store’s Ecommerce Localization

Wix store localization

Source: Wix

If you're running your ecommerce store on Wix, you’re in luck. The Wix Multilingual feature lets you translate all your store’s content at your own convenience. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Enable Wix Multilingual

  • Go to the Wix Editor and click on "Settings."

  • Under "Multilingual", click on "Add Languages."

Step 2: Translate your Wix store

  • In the Multilingual dashboard, choose your main site language, and then the languages you want to add (secondary languages).

  • Click “Auto-translate site content” to enable or disable auto-translation.

  • Publish your new site.

Step 3: Set up Multicurrency

Currently, you can't show a different currency for each language on your multilingual site. If you change the site currency, it changes for all languages.

Step 4: Optimize SEO for the new language

  • Wix adds hreflang and x-default tags to multilingual sites by default.

  • Open the Editor, select 'Switch Language' and choose the language you want to edit.

  • Click on the 'Pages' icon, hover over the desired page and select 'SEO Basics' from the 'Show More' menu.

  • Update the page's title and meta description in the chosen language.

  • Make sure 'Let search engines index this page' is toggled on.

  • Click 'Publish'.

To Sum Up

Ecommerce doesn’t just bring more online shoppers, but it also bringsmore competition. One of the ways to stand out in this crowded marketplace is through ecommerce localization.

Localization is about reshaping the whole customer experience to suit a region. It's about demonstrating your appreciation for their customs and making your store their go-to online shopping destination. When you do this right, you're connecting with your customers on a deeper level, showing them you understand and respect their customs and needs.

An integral part of making this happen is using the right tools. Like Centus.

Centus is a platform designed for effective collaboration among your translators and localization teams. It accommodates different file formats and integrates smoothly with other software systems. It also offers features for managing and reviewing translations, making it a comprehensive solution for your localization needs.

Click here to learn more about the most reliable localization tool in an ecommerce company’s arsenal.


Why is localization important in ecommerce?

Localization is essential in ecommerce as it allows businesses to connect with customers in different geographic regions on a personal level. It helps your business speak the language of your customers, not just in words, but in style, tone, and understanding. This builds trust and loyalty, and makes shopping on your site a comfortable experience for people all around the world.

Why is translation important in ecommerce?

Translation plays a critical role in ecommerce by making the content of your online store understandable to a different audience. However, translation is just one part of the larger localization process. Effective ecommerce translation goes beyond word-for-word conversion and considers cultural nuances, idioms, and locally relevant content.

What is localization strategy for ecommerce?

A localization strategy is your game plan for adapting your online store to different cultures. This could involve translating and culturally adapting the site's content, tweaking the design to suit local aesthetics, localizing SEO metadata, offering region-specific payment options, and providing local customer support, among other elements.

Does localization include translation?

Yes, localization does include translation, but it’s also so much more. While translation focuses on converting text from one language to another, localization involves adapting various elements of your online store — from content and visuals to functionality and SEO — to make it feel natural to customers in a particular locale.

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