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How can I translate product catalogues?

What is the best way to translate product catalogues?

How to translate product catalogues is a crucial business process. Catalogues are the most efficient way businesses – retailers, eCommerce stores such as Amazon, etc. – educate and inform their customers about available products.

Usually, a product catalogue describes product items in details, showing features and benefits. It also includes product images that clearly show the physical characteristics of the item. And, in most cases, the price of merchandise too.


How to write content in product catalogues

These product catalogues are appealing and often come along with compelling copy to persuade buyers to make a purchase. Hence the importance of good copywriting.

For businesses looking to expand to foreign markets, it is imperative to localize their product catalogues. Since most buyers, as research have shown, prefer to shop on websites with copies in their native language.


How to translate that content

However, translating product catalogues presents unique challenges which are not present if it is just to localize conventional documents.

To translate product catalogues, the business must answer some of these questions.

  • Is the product catalogue design heavy?
  • Will it be printed or left in digital format?
  • Is the translation work for an eCommerce store?
  • If it’s an eCommerce store, what’s the website’s infrastructure backbone – a Prestashop, Magento, WordPress, Shopify?

Answers to these questions will go a long way to guide both the translator and business owner form a strategy on how to handle the project.


Do we have an online catalogue?

If the product catalogue translation is for an eCommerce store that runs on Magento, you will need to do things differently compared to if it’s a Prestashop or Shopify or even WordPress store. Also, the process would look totally different if the product catalogue translation is for print.

Take for instance, when trying to translate the product catalogue on Magento, the online store owner would first have to download product database on Magento in a .csv file format, before sending it over to the product catalogue translator to render in the target language.

The product description, meta description, product URL, and perhaps product names are some of the columns that are often translated.

Also, once the product catalogue translation is complete, the eCommerce retailer can import the translated version in one click. However, to avoid compromising on the one-click import feature, care should be taken not to delete any column from the original .csv file.


Considerations for print

Translating a product catalogue for print, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. Several moving parts come into play, we must consider them all in order to produce an aesthetically pleasing document.


Other considerations

Other things to consider include

  • the layout (editing) of the brochures,
  • graphics and image designs, and
  • the different formats of output documents.

Generally, we create a PDF version of the translated product catalogue. Then, there’s the InDesign format for flyers, brochures, booklets, magazines and other forms of prints. Finally, save the file as a Scalable vector graphics, .svg ideal for logos.



A high-quality product catalogue must incorporate the linguistic nuances and culture of the target market. Hiring experienced translators with native-speaker skills is as important as having local boots on the ground.

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