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Translation as a Way to Boost Cross-Border E-Commerce

Say you have a company in the UK and you sell products or services online directly to end consumers. There is a way for you to significantly increase your sales and that is through cross-border e-commerce. Within the Euro zone, it’s rather easy for consumers to purchase goods and services outside of their own country. However, some nationalities are more enclined than others to purchase from foreign sites. In particular, based on a 2014 study from fast.MAP, French people were twice as likely than their UK counterparts to buy products from a foreign website.


This is great news for British (and other foreign) companies wanting to appeal to French consumers. After all, why would you want to disregard a significant target market just because they live beyond your borders? In particular, if you sell products and services to the Millenial generation, it is highly likely that these young people will have the same information consumption habits, be it in the UK or on the other side of the Channel. So by offering your products and your services online to French audiences, you could win a significant user base and grow a following en français.


In fact, based on the 2015 e-commerce review from the FEVAD (French Federation of E-commerce and Distance Selling), French e-shoppers spent an average of €1,780 per year in 2015, compared to €1,640 in 2014, for an average of 23 online orders per year.


When we talk about offering products and services to a foreign user base, we’re not just talking about offering international delivery. One of the most important features of a website – and one of the most underestimated – is its language. Is your website only available in English? Have you ever thought of the benefits French translation could bring to your company ?


Truth is, I am an English to French translator so I’m far from unbiased on this topic. And yes, the first thing I look at when I’m on a website offering cool products or services is the little flag icon on the right-hand corner to see if it has a drop drown menu (or if there is any flag at all).

But what I constantly see is online stores offering international shipping for their products while their website is still in English only. You might consider translation as a huge cost for your business or you might not even be sure it’s worth it. So let me list the various pros of an English to French translation for a UK-based company selling its products or services online directly to French consumers.

  • Increase your Web presence and exposure in French
  • Increase the SEO impact of your keywords in French
  • Grow a user base/following and let the word of mouth do the rest for you
  • Test the waters before actually looking for a distributor or opening a branch in France
  • Ultimately increase your sales in France


Not convinced yet? Well, it’s not easy to find tangible facts linking unavailability of a language (or worse, a bad translation) to a high bounce rate on Web pages. Google Analytics provide great insights as to where your visitors come from and what pages they visit, it even tells you if consumers leave products in their basket without ordering. But Google Analytics can’t tell you that most French-speaking visitors bounced off your page, just because they simply didn’t understand the language, although they really loved your design… (Though you could come to this conclusion by looking at the language spoken by your visitors and the time spent on your site.)

Bottom line is: when you’re thinking international expansion, think about the potential that a good, translated website can have on your company, your brand image and your sales.


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