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Are you planning to expand your company’s reach to international markets? Here are three key concepts to know about before you do.
Localization, Internationalization, or Globalization? Which One Do You Need?
Today, technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. As a matter of fact, about 56.1% of the world’s population—roughly 4.3 billion people—have access to the Internet today.
Moreover, with the widespread use of smartphones, people can contact each other anywhere in the world in real time. The Internet also allows people to exchange knowledge. And it gives us a chance to look for opportunities in countries other than our own. In other words, the world has literally gone global.
The Power of GILT for Going International
Any brand that’s planning to introduce a product or service into the international market has to consider globalization, internationalization, and localization. Perhaps even more important, however, is translation. The acronym for these four terms is “GILT.”
Businesses that operate beyond their own national border need more than one language translation. Nor is a single translation sufficient for any company that intends to exploit the opportunities that arise from global interconnectivity. This article explores these terms. We will discuss their differences. And we plan to leave you with information to help you determine which is best suited for your business.
Localization refers to modifying a product, content, or website so that it is adaptable to the language and customs of a particular locality, region, or culture. A product that has been localized has been adapted to the region. It therefore feels natural to its target audience in that region.
Localization has much to do with language, and it is dependent on proper translation. The words the business uses to describe and sell their product to their target market should be in a language that customers understand and are comfortable speaking. Getting the right content in front of the user in the correct language is essential.
A useful translation tool will give you high-quality content. What’s more, it can adapt to different cultures to help increase your business’s international reach. Translate.com is a good example of such a service. This company offers website localization with features that include:
- A website localizer that detects a visitor’s language settings automatically and translates the site’s text accordingly
- A free online translator in more than 90 languages
- Smooth integration with popular CMS plugins such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Weebly, Tumblr, Drupal, and more
- Support tickets app and chat translation system
- Professional human translation services
Apart from language, other things to consider when localizing content or a product include:
- Time and date format
- Currency symbol
- Units of measurement
- Telephone number format
- Naming conventions
- Legal requirements
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Internationalization is the generalization of a product or service to make it adaptable to a number of different markets, cultures, or regions without redesigning. It is a corporate strategy that requires technical and subject-matter experts with broad international experience. It differs from localization, where the product is redesigned for a specific region. Internationalization is about making the product design or content easy for people everywhere to understand.
As you might imagine, internationalizing a product is easier in theory than in practice. What’s more, products that include content requiring translation are even more difficult to internationalize.
To pull it off, companies need to make it easy for their content to be changed into another language. Also, they need to create enough room in the user interface in case the translated text needs additional space. They should also make site graphics that are inexpensive to translate. Additionally, graphics need to have functionality that supports different currencies as well as different time and date formats.
Because of these challenges, most companies who want to market their products in international markets begin by internationalizing their product. This facilitates the product’s expansion into international markets. Then, the company can more easily adapt it to one particular market. In other words, they can then localize that product.
Globalization generally means bringing cultures and people from different countries across the globe together. In business terms, however, it refers to making a product or service sellable anywhere in the global market with little alteration. It may also mean implementing a set of practices to form tighter relationships with customers and business partners from all over the world. Globalization encompasses both localization and internationalization.
A business that intends to go global should do adequate market research. It’s imperative that company leaders understand the culture and customs of the region they will be selling to. Due diligence before such a move has helped many businesses avoid failure in new markets.
It’s important to note that any company that produces or sells products or services that are in demand in other countries can expand their reach to a global capacity. However, the company must develop a strategy that will work. And they should have an in-depth understanding of how international trade works.
Examples of Global Companies
A few decades ago, only a couple of companies like Coca Cola had global recognition. Today, hundreds of brands operate across international borders. For example, Airbnb, a hospitality and online marketplace, has extensive global reach. Officially launched in 2008 by three roommates in San Francisco, Airbnb now has listings in 65,000 cities covering 91 countries.
Airbnb has a localization department in their company. This department is in charge of making the website accessible to people in different parts of the world. The company employs a globalized strategy to develop trust between travelers and hosts. The company has a universal symbol for Their logo, and they incorporate local storytelling in their marketing strategy.
Another example is Apple. This company has the same unique design for all regions. However, the content on their site is translated and tailored for local tastes.
Careful Planning Is Important for Going International
When planning to expand your business across national and regional borders, you must consider localization, internationalization, and globalization. However, getting them right for your company can become problematic.
But careful and detailed planning will significantly cut down the time, effort, and money you’ll need when you launch the project. First, determine the needs of your brand as well as those of your potential customers. Also, weigh the challenges and rewards that you are likely to experience when expanding to international markets.
Keep in mind that most customers buying online prefer shopping in their native language. This is true even if English is prevalent in their country. Therefore it is vital that you have a reliable translation service for your website before you launch your brand globally. Translation, together with any of these three concepts we discuss here, will assist you in attracting more international visitors to your site. This will increase your conversions and help your business go international successfully.