How to provide multilingual customer service for ecommerce

Ecommerce is on the rise around the world. Both individuals and companies can create online sites and sell their products without retail storefronts. Studies have shown that eight in ten European internet users perform online purchases through some form of ecommerce storefront. This trend shows no signs of stopping, especially in the younger demographic and millennials. However, online business carries its own share of problems and conundrums to resolve. Even if you implement ecommerce software through a platform like BigCommerce or Magento, you will still have a lot to plan for. International customers are likely to contact you with wishes to buy your products. Even if you implement a multi-currency ecommerce solution like Shopify, the problem is that many people still won’t speak your native language, whatever it may be. Multilingual customer service and user experience (UX) can amend that shortcoming. Let’s take a look at what you can provide for your customers when it comes to multilingual customer support and enhanced UX overall. Benefits of multilingual UX Before we dive into multilingual customer service for ecommerce, let’s take a look at the benefits regarding the process. After all, every upgrade or addition to your site should bear some form of positive outcome. According to CSA Research, 75% of worldwide customers prefer buying online goods through sites with their languages featured as an option. This number is too high to ignore, so let’s take a look at several benefits of implementing multilingual support on your ecommerce website. Better customer engagement Just over 26% of internet transactions on the global level take place in English language. This fact is even more alarming when you take the global number of internet users into account. Providing a multilingual ecommerce storefront will allow for better user engagement globally. People from different corners of the world will be much more likely to use your site to order goods and spread positive word of mouth about your practices. Higher ROI Return on Investment (ROI) is on every ecommerce website owner’s mind – and for good reasons. Hiring professional translators or outsourcing your localization through Pick Writers and their translation services reviews costs money. However, the return on investment connected to the initial expense is tremendous. Mobile ads which lead to online stores fare 86% better if they offer localized marketing content to their readers. No business model will save you from the simple fact that people like to be met halfway when languages are concerned. Good SEO ranking Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in how your site is perceived through search engines and their algorithms. Google has modified the SEO algorithm to detect and promote websites which offer accessibility and original content above all else. This means that implementing a multilingual approach to your ecommerce will lead to resounding success, especially if you pursue more global languages such as Chinese, Russian and German. Multilingual customer service in ecommerce As with any addition to an ecommerce website, multilingual support should come in stages. Let’s take a detailed look at how you can implement multilingual customer service into an existing, live ecommerce website. 1. Research popular languages and demand Every industry has a certain target demographic which makes it tick. The same goes for children’s toys, books, car equipment or anything else. In order to pinpoint the perfect languages for your website, you should take a look at supply and demand in the industry. Scour through popular competition and their websites. Ask your existing customers about their preferred language offering through email surveys. Do anything you can to eliminate unnecessary languages and add any which might be out of the usual plethora of French, Italian, German and Spanish. 2. Work with an international shipping company Since you plan on expanding into international waters, you should look for shipping companies which can meet your clientele’s demands. International shipping companies come in two varieties; some focus on sea transportation while others (more commonly) prefer air shipping. Look for the best international shipping options in your country and see if you can settle for a mutually-beneficial contract. After all, there is no point in shipping internationally if you don’t break even at the end. 3. Site translation and localization As we’ve mentioned before, site localization should be done in-house or outsourced to a professional translation service. Outsourcing is especially viable if you intend to offer multilingual support in numerous languages not only in content but customer support as well. Add new languages in waves and don’t overreach. You have all the time in the world to slowly and methodically add languages one by one and gauge the public interest in doing so. [subscribe] 4. Machine-learning chatbots In the early days of your website’s multilingual customer service, you can rely on chatbots to get things done. Chatbots are AI algorithms designed to provide rudimentary customer support and learn as they go along. Some of the better quality chatbot algorithms can be found in the app stores for platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento. These prolific ecommerce support websites also offer numerous plugins which can make the transition into multilingual services much easier and user-friendly. 5. Hire or outsource support agents There will always come a moment where your chatbots won’t be able to deliver on their promises. This is especially possible in their early days, while they are still unaware of the customers’ patterns on your website. In order to offer full customer service despite this shortcoming, you can hire full-time agents or virtual assistants to act as support agents. With some rudimentary training, these employees and freelancers can help you deliver multilingual customer service without you personally speaking the languages. 6. Ongoing product description support Multilingual customer service is a long-term commitment. Each product you publish on your ecommerce website will have to be updated with corresponding descriptions and texts in each language. This raises the question of whether you should hire full-time translators or stick to on-demand freelancers. Make the choice that works best for the volume of products you intend to publish. 7. Create and emphasize feedback channels Ecommerce or not, you will want to talk to your customers on a constant basis. Create dedicated a dedicated email address for feedback and comments. Collect data from your chatbots and have human support agents go through them. Gather feedback constantly, and make sure that your customers know that every bit of criticism is welcome. That way, you will always have an insight into how well you are doing your job. You will also know whether or not you should refocus your multilingual customer service efforts one way or another. Conclusion Whether you opt for DIY localization or assisted ecommerce development with a platform such as Shopify, you should always do it on demand. Never assume that a language is necessary on your website by hunch alone. Add new language support options on a constant basis but back those actions up with research and feedback as you go. Only then will you strike the perfect cord with your audience and find a middle ground that works for both parties. This is a guest post by Kristin Savage, a freelance writer with a special interest in how the latest achievements in media and technology can help to grow readership and revenue. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.

2019-02-14

Optimising your ecommerce store for the mobile-first index

In March 2018, after a long digital drumroll of anticipation, Google announced that it was rolling out mobile-first indexing. What does this mean for your SEO? In short, if your ecommerce site isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re losing out on a huge source of traffic. Source: Google After much research into the way people are now interacting with search engines, the conclusion is that there has been a marked shift towards mobile. In typical Google fashion, what searchers want, searchers get. So, it was decided that mobile would be a top priority. But how dramatic has this turn towards mobile been? The answer is definitely substantial enough to warrant this new shift in Google’s priorities. According to this Statista report, in 2018, 52.2% of all web traffic comes through mobile channels. While that is indeed significant, it is not the most telling fact about the current state of mobile traffic. What is even more noteworthy is the steady pace with which this form of traffic is increasing. The same Statista study shows a rise from 50.3% the year before, which built on 35.1% in 2015. This is not a trend which is fly-by-night. As you already know, when it comes to eCommerce, the success of your business depends on keeping up with search engine best practices and ranking criteria. These best practices can help you boost your ecommerce search traffic. With this in mind, you simply cannot afford to ignore mobile-first. Before I tell you how to adopt this for your eCommerce store, it’s necessary to explore what mobile-first indexing entails. Let’s dive in. What is mobile-first indexing? In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing refers to a method of search engine ranking that makes use of the mobile version of websites to organize SERP items. Google looks for relevant data to decide how best to answer the questions their searchers are asking. If the army of crawling bots find relevant information on your site, you may be moved up the ranks. In the past, Google rankings were based on desktop versions of websites. With mobile-first, the move is towards crawling and indexing mobile sites, rather than their desktop companions. This means that websites must be responsive and suitable for use on mobile, or mobile versions must have the same comprehensive content as the desktop. If you are breaking into a cold sweat as the realisation dawns that all your SEO efforts have been concentrated on your desktop site, take a deep breath. As Google has said, the move is gradual, and will not happen without notification in the Search Console. If they deem your site ready for the move over to mobile-first indexing, you will receive the following notification: Source: Google It’s important to note at this point that the Mobile-first index is not a separate index. Google continues to only have one index, as it always has. The shift means that the mobile version of websites will be prioritised, rather than being a move towards an additional type of indexing system. But how can you optimise for this change? 3 key steps to mobile optimisation 1. Switch to one responsive website As Littledata recently outlined on this blog, moving to responsive web design can be a very good move. What is this responsive design I speak of? Quite simply, it refers to web design that works well across a range of platforms. It prioritises user experience to ensure that the person interacting with your site is able to navigate it with ease, regardless of which device they use. A major perk of this is that whomever is in charge of the upkeep of your store does not have to monitor two (or more) different versions of your site. They have one site to take care of which will, if intelligently-constructed, work for an optimal user experience. If you do prefer to keep things separate, make sure that you pay attention to the mobile version of your site, rather than it merely acting as a subsidiary of your desktop site. As we will look at in step 3, it’s not a given that your SEO efforts will migrate over to the mobile version without some cognisant intervention on your part. 2. Get speedy Hopefully, page loading speed has already been a major priority when it comes to your SEO efforts. Sales in the eCommerce sphere are highly dependent on being able to keep your shoppers engaged and open for conversion to a sale. If your page does not load quickly enough, your customers will not stick around. Note: Check out these case studies on HubSpot for examples of how the speed of your site can affect your profit margins. When it comes to mobile-first however, page load speed is even more integral to your success. It is most certainly a top priority for Google in terms of how they allocated their ranking positions, and should be for you too. Luckily, there are numerous methods to both test and increase your page load speed: Start by looking at what Google’s very own Search Console has to offer. Through their Webmaster Lab Tools, you’ll quickly be able to see how well your site is performing and whether you need to step up your game. Third party tools such as Think With Google can be excellent accompaniments to other Google Analytics tools when it comes to deciphering how your site is faring. Ensure that your web design is not slowing down your whole operation. If you don’t have the technical knowhow yourself, get a developer to run an audit to see if your server speed, content configuration, or baseline coding is placing any obstacles between your users and an instantly-loading page. [subscribe] 3. Ensure your SEO tactics are still powerful If you have spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that your desktop site is fully ”SEOd”, make sure that your efforts carry over into the mobile iteration of your eCommerce store. Here’s a very brief checklist: Is all that beautiful content you created crawlable in the mobile version of your site? Those titles and descriptions that you put so much effort into? Make sure all your metadata carries over! Is the mobile version of your site verified with Google’s Search Console? Some final tips As an eCommerce shop owner, your concerns are not only getting customers to your site, but ultimately converting them. When it comes to mobile, there are specific trends that CROs are highlighting when it comes to transforming your customers into paying ones. In this comprehensive analysis by Shopify, they take an in-depth look at a study done by inflow on Mobile Conversion Optimization Features used in Best-In-Class Retailers. What is particularly useful in this report is what they refer to as a don’t and a do in terms of what is currently leading to optimal conversion rates for eCommerce business owners. As a parting gift, I’d like to share these two insights with you as ways to bolster your own efforts. In summary: Say no to hero slider images. In-depth research into mobile conversion rates has illustrated that customers are less than moved by them. Usher in the age of the top navigation menu. A relatively unused feature in the eCommerce world, all the data is pointing towards its efficacy in terms of mobile conversion rates. The takeway... Point 1: Don’t panic. Google will notify you if they’re switching you over, and will prioritise sites they deem more ready. Point 2: Start thinking with an on-the-go mindset. Make sure your store’s UX for mobile is as streamlined as possible. Make sure that your SEO efforts have carried over. Point 3: Don’t stop at optimising your mobile site for traffic - optimise for conversions too. Understand what will compel mobile customers to a sale. Good luck!   This is a guest post by Charlie Carpenter. He is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience. After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and personalised photo print goods. As well as an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience of various types of digital projects which include: Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, Cross Platform App development. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.

2018-12-05

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