Cross-Border E-commerce: How Translation Helps in Customer Journey

By: Muhammad Hamza Posted on 3 days ago

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Not too long ago, people were bound to cross borders and visit different countries to purchase desired products and services. Today’s shopping world has shrunk considerably for shoppers, opening doors to a global marketplace.

They can browse and purchase products from virtually any corner of the world. This phenomenon is called cross-border shopping.

It has seen a dramatic rise in recent times, driven by a desire for a wider selection, competitive prices, and unique finds unavailable in the local markets.

This might sound fascinating in words, but the practical pictures are full of horror because there are multiple challenges of cross-border e-commerce, and the most significant one is the language barrier.

However, with the advancement in the technological world, business landscapes are rapidly evolving. It has become a lot easier to efficiently communicate in diverse marketplaces with the availability of translation services.

It has become an integral part of e-commerce businesses offering products and services in multiple languages covering a huge demographic.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about cross-border shopping (e-commerce) and how translation makes your experience smooth and exciting. Let’s begin with the introduction:

Table of Content

  1. What is Cross-Border Shopping?
  2. Cross-Border Shopping Journey & Role of Translation
  3. Pre-Purchase Stage
    1. Product Research and Discovery
    2. Reviews and Ratings
  4. Purchase Stage
    1. Product Selection and Comparison
    2. Secure Checkout Processes
  5. Post-Purchase Stage
    1. Order tracking and Communication
    2. Customer Support
  6. Benefits of High-Quality Translation for Cross-Border Businesses
    1. Increased Customer Trust and Satisfaction
    2. Reduced Customer Support Inquiries
    3. Broader Market Reach and Brand Recognition
    4. Enhanced Brand Image and Professionalism
  7. Translation Challenges in Cross-Border Shopping
    1. Cultural Nuances and Localization
    2. Evolving Search Engine Algorithms
    3. Choosing the Right Translation Tools
    4. Technical Terms and Measurements
    5. Consistency of Terminology
  8. Best Practices for Cross-Border E-commerce Translation
    1. Partner with Professionals
    2. Market Research
    3. Style Guide
    4. Translation Tools
    5. Testing and Refinement
  9. Conclusion

What is Cross-Border Shopping?

According to the definition in the OECD glossary, “cross-border shopping is the name given to the activity wherein private individuals buy goods abroad because of lower taxes and import them for their own consumption without declaring them in full in order to avoid paying import duties.”

Well, the broader concept of cross-border shopping has now evolved too much. In the current time, it has now turned into a more sophisticated and easy method called cross-border e-commerce.

Cross-Border Shopping Journey & Role of Translation

Shopping is a simple thing, but it can be broken down into three key stages: pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase.

At each stage, translation acts as a bridge, developing trust and understanding between you, the international seller, and your potential customers.

Pre-Purchase Stage

This is the first yet most amazing part of your journey, where the magic of discovery happens. At this stage, customers are excitedly researching products while comparing options and reading reviews. You might be thinking about the role of translation in it. Here is where the translation shines:

Product Research and Discovery

A clear and accurate product description translated into multiple languages is paramount. Imagine you are in Spain, roaming around the market to buy a new jacket.

Now, tell us, would you understand the size chart, product material, or features that are written in Spanish? It’s hard to even imagine, right? So, translation is the remedy that avoids any confusion.

The same is the case with online shopping. To make a satisfactory decision about a good purchase, you will need all details translated accurately into your mother tongue.

Reviews and Ratings

Nobody other than the previous users of the product can tell whether it is worth buying or not. It is also difficult to imagine the product quality while looking at photos. User reviews and ratings hold immense value.

Translating these into the target language builds trust by allowing consumers to see real experiences from others in their native tongue.

However, cultural nuances come into play here. A humorous remark in one culture might be misinterpreted in another. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of such subtleties during translation.

Purchase Stage

The consumer has found the desired, suitable item, and now it’s time to make the purchase. Here’s the role of translation in ensuring a smooth and secure checkout process:

Product Selection and Comparison

A comparison is a must to choose the best option among various. Imagine comparing two electronic items on a German website. Can you differentiate which one is the best without translation?

For easy comparison of features and specifications of products, clear and precise information in the local language is necessary. It gives consumers the confidence to make the right decision.

Moreover, consistent translated terminology and clear CTA buttons further streamline the selection and comparison process.

Secure Checkout Processes

Asking for user information is one of a website’s security requirements. However, unclear or unfamiliar checkout procedures increase the risk of cart abandonment. Therefore, a secure and familiar checkout experience is essential.

Translation ensures transparency for multilingual customers, allowing them to understand payment options, currency conversion rates, and any potential additional fees associated with the transaction.

Post-Purchase Stage

This is where most businesses fail to retain their consumers. Even though the sale is complete, the customer journey continues. Here is how translation keeps the experience positive:

Order tracking and Communication

Keeping customers informed is key. Translated shipping details, updates, and order confirmations ensure that the consumer understands the delivery timeline and any potential delays.

Translation helps maintain a natural and helpful tone to build a positive brand image.

Benefits of High-Quality Translation for Cross-Border Businesses

Translation allows businesses to preserve a high return on investment by ensuring a smooth shopping experience. Let’s see how:

Increased Customer Trust and Satisfaction

Suppose, you are walking into a department store in India, and the staff speaks a different language. It would be frustrating and confusing, right?

As a result, you wouldn’t be able to buy anything from them. The same applies to cross-border shopping.

Clear and accurate product descriptions, helpful FAQs, and translated policies provide international customers with a sense of trust and satisfaction.

This transparency builds a strong foundation for a positive customer experience. Moreover, encourage them to get back to you for future business. Thus, translation, if done right, helps gain customer trust.

Improved Conversion Rates and Sales

High-quality translation is the key to smoothing the path to your checkout counter. Clear, consistent, and culturally relevant information helps customers easily navigate the e-commerce website.

They can confidently explore the whole portfolio, compare products, understand the payment options, and finalize the products without any confusion.

This streamlined buying journey minimizes frustration and cart abandonment. Ultimately, it leads to improved conversion rates and increased sales.

Reduced Customer Support Inquiries

Poor translation can cause misunderstandings that transform into a constant influx of customer support inquiries. High-quality translations eliminate such issues.

With accurately and comprehensively translated information on a website, customers can easily find answers to their questions.

It reduces the burden on the website’s support team and frees up valuable time and resources that can be used somewhere else for good.

Broader Market Reach and Brand Recognition

Translation frees up consumers from language and cultural restrictions for cross-border shopping. Translated websites and marketing materials unlock the doors to a wider range of options.

Imagine that the tech-savvy population in France can access your user manuals, or that potential customers in China can now understand your product descriptions in their native language.

This expanded reach translates to a wider customer base and increased brand recognition on a global scale.

Enhanced Brand Image and Professionalism

A well-designed website demonstrates your commitment to international customers. It shows that you value their business and are willing to invest in clear communication.

This requires a professional brand image that inspires trust and positions you as a reliable player in the global market.

A high-quality translation of an e-commerce website is not just about words on a screen. It is about building relationships with diverse audiences across regions. It is an investment that pays off in the form of trust, loyalty, and the success of your cross-border business.

Translation Challenges in Cross-Border Shopping

While translation bridges language gaps, it also presents its own set of challenges that require careful consideration. Let’s discuss these hurdles and explore strategies to overcome them:

Cultural Nuances and Localization

Languages are not merely vessels for words; they carry the weight of culture, humor, and social references.

It won’t be wrong to say that languages and cultures go side by side. A joke in English might not count as funny in another language.

Just like that, idiomatic expressions are a part of the culture of any region and only sound meaningful to locals. To navigate this cultural minefield, localization is key.

It is the process of adapting your website content done by professional e-commerce translation services to resonate with the specific cultural nuances of the target market.

Let’s try to understand it with an example. Imagine translating a US marketing campaign that uses a lot of pop culture references into Japanese.

A simple translation might miss the mark entirely. Localization would involve finding culturally relevant references to create an emotional connection with the Japanese audience.

Evolving Search Engine Algorithms

With every passing day, search engine algorithms are changing constantly, making it crucial to optimize your translated content for searchability.

For example, in recent years, Google has updated its algorithms multiple times. Websites that successfully match the speed are working perfectly, while others are facing the music and struggling to regain their value.

Choosing the Right Translation Tools

Although it is nothing new, there are a lot of tools available, ranging from machine translation services to professional human translators.

The right choice depends on several factors, including your budget, content complexity, and desired accuracy. If you have a low budget, you go with machine translation.

For complex content, MT is a choice, but for proofreading, you still need human help. And if you require accurate and precise translation of your marketing content, human translators are the best choice.

Technical Terms and Measurements

Technical specifications, measurements, and size charts are the cornerstone of product information. Poor translation can cause misinterpretation, which can lead to a frustrated customer receiving the wrong products.

For technical translations, accuracy is paramount. Working with professional translators is an excellent way to guarantee precision, as they consider terminology glossaries specific to an industry in the target language.

Consistency of Terminology

Different terminologies of the same product make it confusing for buyers to make an adept decision. Imagine you reach a website offering the same product with different names in different sections. It is like you call a product as goods, commodities, and devices. These are just the different names of the same thing that doesn't change anything.

Therefore, consistency in terminology across your website and marketing materials is crucial for a professional and user-friendly experience.

Best Practices for Cross-Border E-commerce Translation

By following these practices, you can ensure your translation is effective and elevate the customer experience.

Partner with Professionals

Consider partnering with a professional translation company that has translators with subject-matter expertise in your target market. Their experience will ensure accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Professional translators have a deep understanding of both the source and target languages. It helps them to translate each word with great care and handle complex terminology and cultural references with ease.

Moreover, they are attuned to the cultural nuances of your target market and adapt your content to resonate with local preferences and avoid unintentional faux pas.

Market Research

It is the key to understanding your target audience’s needs and expectations. People in different countries might use different terms for searching. Understanding these variations allows you to optimize your content for SEO in the target language.

Humor, formality, and sentence structure vary greatly across cultures. Do thorough research to know the preferences that resonate with your audience.

Style Guide

An inconsistent brand voice can be jarring for customers. Imagine encountering a brand while cross-border shopping that uses a playful tone in its English version of the website but a dry and formal tone in its Spanish version.

Develop a style guide that outlines your brand voice, preferred terminology, and formatting for translated content to ensure a seamless consumer experience. It will also serve as a roadmap for translators, ensuring consistency across languages.

Translation Tools

Technology can be your great ally in the translation process. There is a cost-effective way to get a basic understanding of the source text, and that is machine translation (MT).

Or you can go for the best and most accurate method, which is human translation services. They refine your content purely for a specific region using linguistic, cultural, and social references, the ensuing natural flow of content, and preserving the brand voice.

Testing and Refinement

The most efficient way to ensure your translated content hits the mark is through testing and refinement. Get feedback from natives to identify any awkward phrasing and cultural insensitivity that might have slipped through the cracks.

Also, run A/B tests to see which translated version of your website content performs better with your target audience. This data-driven approach allows for continuous improvement.


In today’s e-commerce world, translation is no longer a luxury. It has now become a necessity for every cross-border business. High-quality translation has the potential to bridge the language gap, unlock the immense potential of the global marketplace, and create a seamless customer journey.

Remember, a business revolves around customer demands and preferences. Translate your website to make it more welcoming and engaging for international customers.

A well-translated website helps you grab the attention of global customers, who will love to explore, engage, and ultimately become loyal advocates of your brand. For translating your e-commerce website into any language, you can contact Mars Translation. We have been in the translation industry for over 2 decades and we have what it takes to deliver results-driving, fast and localized translations. Get in touch for more details!