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Is automatic translation for ecommerce good enough?

Is automatic translation for ecommerce a good enough option?

Often, the bulk of an e-commerce website’s content is in one language. That’s not necessarily a problem, especially if the majority of the site’s target audience are located in one country and perhaps speak the one language.

But what happens when several customers speak and understand different languages? As you know, ignoring this segment of your audience could mean leaving easy money on the table.


New to exporting?

Or perhaps you’re planning to enter new markets where, let’s say, English is not the dominant language. After all, English is just the third most spoken language internationally behind Spanish and Hindi.

One thing both scenarios have in common is the need to solve the problem of accessibility. Your website has to be legible to this category of customers. And one cost-effective, efficient way of ensuring your customers can read and understand your website content is to make the e-commerce website multilingual.


And now what do I do?

Once you’ve decided that your e-commerce website needs to be translated into other languages in order to reach a broader audience, you also have to determine how to go about it.

Would human translators be a cost-effective, faster option?

Or will automatic translation do the same task but in a more efficient, faster, and cheaper manner?

To provide you with more context, here are some of the inherent features of both translation options available to you.


The drawbacks of automatic translation

Firstly, automatic translation is, well, automatic. Your website is translated in an instant with no delays and no downtime. Now, compare that to using human translators. For one, human translators can only translate an average of 2000-3000 words per day.

What happens if you have over 50,000 words of web content? Do you have time to wait for at least 25 days to get your website translated?You might need to hire more translators to speed up the work…


And what if I have huge volumes of content?

And if you’re managing high volumes of content in a fast-paced website that needs updating several times a day… how do you translate this new content?

Secondly, automatic translation is considerably cheaper than working with human translators. In most cases, you only need to make a one-off payment, and you’ll be given a tool to translate your e-commerce website content into the languages of your choice.


Cost considerations

On the other hand, a human translator would charge up to 20 cents per word. And when you consider that this is on-going work and might perhaps even involve translating into multiple languages; you’d see your cost rising pretty quickly in the long run.

So, back to our initial question. Is automatic translation a good option for an e-commerce website?


So is automatic translation for ecommerce the answer?

The answer is ”it depends”… It’s faster, cheaper and easier to implement than hiring a human translator, but machine-powered engines cannot produce the sort of quality translations you’d expect from a human. Another option is to improve and control the quality of translations by combining pure machine translation with community-driven improvement.

Remember though, that the decision whether automatic translation for ecommerce is enough depends largely on your needs and the expectations of your target audience.

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