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Multilingual EСommerce: How to Achieve Worldwide Sales with Magento

Multilingual EСommerce: How to Achieve Worldwide Sales with Magento

Have you ever opened a website that wasn’t in your native language? Let’s assume you land on a page and see a bunch of symbols or words that you can’t comprehend. What do you do next? Either close the site or search for settings to switch the region or language. Two clicks here and there, and you see content in your preferred language.

Most likely, you haven’t given it much thought, but website localization and content adaptation are a huge scope of work requiring the input of many specialists. In order to reach and cater to the needs of a global audience, businesses that target multiple countries or clients speaking different languages invest a lot of time and resources into supporting multilingual eCommerce. This involves not just translating the eCommerce store but also:

  • creating multiple payment gateways;
  • understanding the cultural nuances;
  • adding multiple currencies and payment options;
  • international SEO optimization.

That’s where you need a robust CMS platform. Magento is one of such eCommerce platforms that is tailor-made for multilingual sites. In this article, we’ll overview the needs of multilingual eCommerce stores and how Magento can facilitate the localization and translation process.

Why Create a Multilingual eCommerce Store?

Nowadays, joining the global marketplace and setting up a multilingual eCommerce business is crucial for many store owners who plan to obtain international customers. In most cases, you can’t just copy-paste content into Google Translate and expect the users to enjoy their experience.

For example, even American and British English have discrepancies in word use (take pants vs. trousers as an illustration). Other languages, like European Portuguese and that spoken in Brazil, have such differences in vocabulary and phrase usage, too.

Similarly, countries have other specifics, such as holidays, backgrounds, and values, apart from the language. Don’t forget about that.

A seamless shopping experience is all about ensuring equally accessible content for English-speaking clients and those speaking other languages. But why exactly do businesses localize their sites? Let’s see several benefits of exploring new markets and appealing to a broader audience.

Expanding Market Reach and Enhancing Customer Engagement

Having more than one language on your multilingual eCommerce store increases your chances of being understood by an international audience. The more customers you can resonate with, the more orders your online store will receive.

Consider this: over half of the web’s content is in English (nearly 59% of websites as of January 2024, according to Statista. Yet, there are hundreds of millions of international customers eager to shop online in their native languages (Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, etc.). Providing a multilingual website means:

  • tapping into these vast new customer pools;
  • getting a competitive advantage;
  • boosting sales in international markets.

Let’s imagine a shopper from Germany. They visit your multilingual e-commerce site and see product descriptions, customer service replies, and checkout processes, all in fluent German. Such an experience overcomes language barriers and builds trust. As a result, their likelihood of conversion skyrockets.

SEO and Organic Traffic Boost

Turning to multilingual search engine optimization (SEO), online stores improve their search engine visibility. Here are a few reasons why search engines like Google favor multilingual websites:

  • You optimize content for local keywords and provide relevant localized information.
  • All translated versions appear as embedded content on a single website.
  • A website in multiple languages gets a chance to attract more visitors than one with just one language.
  • All of the discussed factors boost the primary website’s compound SEO ranking. Plus, you are more likely to rank for high-volume, less competitive keywords in languages other than English.

Cost Versus Opportunity

The cost may be pretty high depending on how you translate the eCommerce website (using automatic translation tools or hiring professional translators). Even though machine translation can be free, you still need to proofread the translated content to ensure it’s error-free and relevant. Nevertheless, the potential revenue from a multilingual eCommerce store can quickly offset these expenses.

Advanced tools and CMS platforms now make this more accessible than ever, even for smaller businesses. Investing in creating a multilingual site allows you to go global without the hefty price tag traditionally associated with such expansion.

Unlocking Global Sales and Local Commerce

Integrating a multilingual eCommerce platform allows for content adaptation beyond mere translation, namely:

  • showcasing prices in local currencies;
  • adapting to cultural peculiarities;
  • meeting region-specific consumer expectations.

So, while divesting your efforts beyond the English language, you focus on a local market in another country, fostering a deeper connection with your brand.

Building Customer Trust Through the Local Language

Addressing customers in their native language is similar to personalization. It’s an effective technique for building trust, credibility, and stronger relationships. This effort shows that your business values and respects the customer’s culture and communication preferences. So, you can go beyond one-time purchases, transforming casual browsers into loyal supporters.

Choosing the Right Platform: Why Magento?

You can build an online store on various platforms, such as:

  • e-commerce platform solutions (Shopify, OpenCart, Magento, Prestashop, BigCommerce);
  • CMS, or a content management system (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal);
  • website builders with sales functionality (Squarespace, Webflow, Wix).

How do you choose? And why do we recommend going with Magento?

Magento is an online platform for developing a robust and complex eCommerce store. Compared to other alternatives like WordPress (with WooCommerce) or Shopify, Magento:

  • is highly customizable;
  • provides superior capabilities in handling complex setups seamlessly;
  • offers multilingual eCommerce solutions;
  • easily scales to meet the needs of a rapidly growing business or a marketplace;
  • gives more control over initial investment (when opting for Magento Open Source, you can choose a hosting plan on your own);
  • may be not so beginner-friendly;
  • while being free under the Open Source edition, other plans can be quite costly for start-ups.

So, in contrast to others, Magento’s main advantages include deep customization and multilingual depth. As it’s open-source, it smoothly integrates with third-party extensions and services.

Harnessing Magento for Multilingual E-commerce

Magento is a feature-rich eCommerce solution for building a user-friendly and globally competitive multilingual website. Here is what you can leverage in this platform:

  • Language packs: These are sets of files that contain text translations for your multilingual e-commerce store. Magento translates them using specialized dictionaries. You can install, set up, and customize these packs, as well as create your own versions.
  • Multiple store views: These are multi-language representations of the same store. A new store has one store view, but you can add more views for different languages.
  • Regional customization: You can adjust the store view to reflect local currencies, tax settings, and cultural nuances;
  • SEO for multiple languages: Magento allows you to optimize meta tags, descriptions, and URLs for each language.
  • Scalable architecture: Apart from the ability to grow with you, Magento also supports modern development approaches like headless commerce. So, you can not only build a multilingual eCommerce site for desktop and mobile but do it in a more agile manner: by decoupling the frontend and the backend and connecting them through APIs. You can change the store and add more frontend features without affecting the backend and vice versa.

Setting Up Your Multilingual Website on Magento

The process of configuring a Magento eCommerce store is quite tricky. In most cases, you’ll need to hire a professional Magento developer or collaborate with an agency to expand your global reach. If you have adept coding abilities, you can edit the website yourself to add a new language or two. Let’s overview this process step-by-step.

1. Creating a New Store View

  • Log into your Magento admin panel and go to the section where you manage stores: Stores > Settings > All Stores.

    Screenshot taken on the official Mageplaza website
  • On this page, click the ‘Create Store View’ button, fill in the required details like store view name, code, and sort order, and set the ‘Status’ to ‘Enabled’. Save your new store view.

    Screenshot taken on the official Mageplaza website
  • To configure the Store View settings, return to the admin panel and navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration. Here, the ‘Store View’ dropdown menu will appear. Select the newly created store.

    Screenshot taken on the official Mageplaza website
  • Open the ‘General’ tab, click the ‘Locale Options’ button, choose the default language for the store view, and save the configuration.

    Screenshot taken on the official Mageplaza website

2. Installing and Setting up Language Packs

  • Find and download the necessary Magento 2 language packs from the Magento Marketplace or other trusted sources.
  • Upload the language pack files to your Magento server, then use SSH to run setup commands to enable the language packs and clear the cache.
  • Configure language for each Store View in the admin panel under Stores > Settings > Configuration > ‘Locale Options.’

3. Optimizing the Multilingual Website for SEO and User Experience

  • Now that you’ve prepared the multilingual eCommerce solutions, translate product descriptions, category pages, and CMS. The content should be relevant and culturally appropriate for each target audience.
  • Implement user-friendly URLs as one of the SEO best practices for multilingual eCommerce stores. URLs should include language indicators to inform search engines and online shoppers.
  • Add a language switcher to your site’s header or footer, making it easy for customers to switch to the preferred language.

Apart from the basic configuration, think of adding Magento extensions for enhanced multilingual capabilities. They improve both functionality and user experience, leading to higher customer satisfaction. Here are some of them:

  • Automatic translation extensions: LangShop Language Translator by Aheadworks, Language Translator by Webkul, Language Translator by Appjetty, and so on. They allow you to manage translations directly within the site, integrating machine translation with manual refinement capabilities.
  • SEO extensions: Magento 2 SEO Extension by MagePlaza, SEO Ultimate Pack by FME Extensions, Magento 2 SEO Extension by WebKul, etc. Packed with multiple tools, these extensions streamline the SEO process and help optimize metadata and URLs.
  • Language and currency auto switchers: Extensions such as GeoIP Redirect for Magento 2 by Mirasvit or Amasty detect user location and automatically adjust the store view, providing customers with a smoother and more personalized shopping experience.

Best Practices for Magento Websites in Multiple Languages

Now that you have a multilingual eCommerce website let’s bring up some useful tips for managing it right.

1. Product Management

First and foremost, product pages should be consistent across store views. For example, they should have the same base URL across all language versions to maintain uniformity and ease of management:

  • English version:;
  • French version:

Product details should be tailored for each target audience, including product descriptions, features, and specifications.

2. Enhancing the User Interface

Make it easier for consumers to change the target language from the UI/UX point of view. This means the switchers should be noticeable enough and present on every page, ideally in the header or footer. Use universally understandable symbols like flags, abbreviations, or globe signs, like in the screenshot from Timetravels below.

Screenshot taken on the official Timetravels website

Adapt the UI design elements like colors, imagery, and layouts to reflect the cultural context of each language version. For instance, use imagery that resonates with local customs and traditions, which can make the shopping experience more relatable and welcoming. A vivid example of a multilingual e-commerce website that follows this principle is Coca-Cola. Depending on the language, you land on the version that feels authentic.

Screenshot taken on the official Coca-Cola website

3. Multilingual Checkout Processes

As far as usability is concerned, pay attention to various website pages and, most importantly, checkout. That’s where online shoppers make a final decision, so there should be no distraction or ambiguity. As such, connect payment gateways popular in the customer’s region:

  • credit cards (U.S.);
  • iDEAL (Netherlands);
  • Alipay (China).

Plus, localize forms to reflect country-specific address and phone number formats. The benefits of such a step include reducing user errors during checkout and aligning with local eCommerce regulations and standards.

4. Integrating Quality Translation Services

While auto-translation tools, especially those powered by artificial intelligence, offer decent quality, it’s still obligatory to have a specialist in your team who will proofread and translate the text. That’s where you may need to partner with professional translation agencies. Some of them, like Quicksilver Translate, specialize in eCommerce and understand your industry’s jargon. Their skilled translators can handle the nuances of translating eCommerce content effectively.

Use Magento’s API or third-party extensions to integrate the results with your multilingual e-commerce store. As your product lines expand or change, an eCommerce solution should provide real-time translations and updates.

5. Multilingual SEO Strategies for Magento

To reach a broader customer base, you need to appropriately target them on search engine result pages (SERPs), namely:

  • Optimize a URL structure to include language indicators, such as subdirectories (e.g., /en/, /fr/). That’s what Moschino does on its multilingual eCommerce website. When clicking the link on SERPs, the website automatically retrieves your IP address. It adjusts the content based on the country and language, reflecting the version in the URL structure (see the screenshot below).

    Screenshot taken on the official Moschino website
  • Employ hreflang tags to tell Google which language you utilize on a specific page. This strategy helps you serve the appropriate content to the intended audience and avoid duplicate content issues.
  • Leverage local SEO using region-specific keywords, meta descriptions, and titles.
  • Update the content across different languages. Regularly test diverse aspects of your multilingual eCommerce website, including links, language-switching functionality, and the checkout process, to ensure a frictionless UX.

Building a Multilingual Online Store: Conclusion

As you can see, developing a multilingual eCommerce store offers manifold benefits:

  • increases audience reach;
  • enhances user experience;
  • boosts sales and conversions;
  • offers a competitive edge;
  • improves SEO.

However, it’s a laborious process. For this task, you require dependable instruments like Magento and adept professionals, each capable of navigating the intricacies with finesse.

Why does automatic translation often fall short? Languages differ greatly from one another. This implies average word length, size and span of symbols, and even the direction in which a user reads words, let alone cultural and linguistic peculiarities. A translation plugin will hardly take it all into consideration.

Wordplay, voice, humor, and calls to action can be among the main obstacles. What can you do in this situation?

Work with a trustworthy team of translators. An ISO-9001-certified translation agency like QuickSilver Translate can provide the best results, uniting professionals like account and project managers, translators, editors, and reviewers. If you have a Magento website and want to tap into multilingual eCommerce, entrust the translation task to these specialists and let your online store attract a global clientele!

About the Author

Art Malkovich

Art Malkovich is CEO and co-founder of Onilab, an eCommerce development company. He has about 10 years of experience in eCommerce team management and web development. He is passionate about keeping up with recent technologies and working on innovative projects like headless commerce solutions and PWAs in particular.

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