At Star Digital we've worked with multi-lingual businesses for many years both in the e-commerce and auction verticals. Historically, its never been easy to create full blown language versions of e-commerce platforms as there is a lot of work that goes into fully translating and configuring all of the elements of the your e-commerce platform.
Over the years, we have performed a number of these projects in Magento including Lenz in Germany, Bambino Mio in the UK using provided translations, and some other clients using machine translation overlays (much less effective).
But in 2019 we hit on some very powerful toolsets that are available in the Shopify ecosystem which empowered us to really push forward on the development of multi-lingual stores cost effectively and with confidence.
Back in early 2019, our long standing client Bambino Mio were running their multi-lingual stores on Magento 2. They were increasingly frustrated at the amount of developer time and cost that was required to keep on top of the multi-lingual elements of the development, and asked us what we thought could be done.
We had recently been scoping out another multi-lingual e-commerce store for a different client and as part of our due diligence had looked at Shopify Plus as we knew it had support for expansion stores, multi-currency, and a quality set of base translations for the core functions of the product. Alongside this we then discovered a number of very well made apps to support the ongoing management of translations at the CMS and product levels.
We presented this to the team at Bambino Mio and signposted them to the Shopify Plus sales channel to perform a fuller due diligence from their perspective. They created a wish-list of international features that they needed and shared it with all of us.
From there, via various face to face meetings with Shopify and video calls with app suppliers, we collectively determined that a Shopify Plus implementation with extension stores would the best answer. One of the key things that the team required was a rest of world extension store that would allow them to transact globally where they do not have a native store in play. Global E were introduced into the conversation and they outlined how international shipping could be handled directly on the ROW store.
The Magento 2 migration and build out process into Shopify Plus was very simple. Star Digital installed a number of approved apps to help with the translation elements, built out the English language store and Bambino Mio provided a matrix of native transaltions based on a structured English language export performed by the Star Digital team.
The Shopify Plus support team then provided us with clone extension stores for each language version (11 in total) and the teams at Bambino Mio and Star Digital worked together to implement the localisations over a 6 week period.
Star Digital then worked with both clients on the international SEO aspects of their Shopify Plus web builds to ensure that the pages were structured properly for Google to recognise the correct stores in each market and index them accordingly ad that a browser sniffer was in place to serve up the most relevant store based on the users IP and browser language.
the ROW store needed to be able to process orders and offer buyers the instant notification of a shipping price and lead time. This has always been an absolute minefield due to the myriad of different payment types and providers across the globe.
Global E speed in and explained how their system works. Simply, the standard Shopify Plus checkout for the ROW store is replaced by a Global_e version. This also links back to the storefront entry point and determines where the user is coming grom. As the user looks at being products and moves in to the checkout they see a localised checkout experience. This is in their language, with their payment providers and shows all shipping costs and lead times.
Global E effectively buy the products from the merchant at the point of checkout and take responsibility for their payment and delivery. This totally empowers brands to sell to just about every market in the world without the operational overheads that would have been required previously.
Bambino Mio also installed Ometria as their global marketing automation partner and Star Digital helped to modify scripts and templates in Shopify Plus and configure and test the platforms to ensure that everything worked. The Bambino Mio project was completed end to end in 14 weeks which is testament to the ease at which things can be achieved in the Shopify Plus ecosystem.
Another of our international Shopify Plus clients, Wunder2, also followed a similar path to Bambino Mio but used the YotPo platform combined with Pure360 for their marketing automation and integration into social channels. This was again an area where modifications were required in the Shopify templates and scripts to deliver the correct experience, but once completed it allowed the Wunder2 store to automate marketing tasks across their multi-lingual stores with ease.
Wunder 2 underwent a similar process to Bambino Mio, creating 6 extension stores and migrating from a legacy .asp platform. The work was completed end to end in 12 weeks, again proving how effective the Shopify Plus environment is to work in.
There has never been a better time to consider expanding your e-commerce business to trade globally. The cost effectiveness of the various apps, combined with the low technical debt and ongoing cost structure of Shopify Plus make this all a reality.
If you already sell in multiple countries it should not be difficult to forecast the effectiveness of launching a multi-national e-commerce platform by looking at the Google traffic from each of the markets you operate in. If you are considering branching out and don't yet have market presence, Google Analytics is also a good start point to see whether you are getting traffic and to understand the types of search term that are driving foreign visitors to your e-commerce store.
It's also worth remembering that a number of stores can be created in English to serve markets such as the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa. But, remember we are divided by a common language! Think 'Nappy' vs ' Diaper', 'Trouser' vs 'Pant'. There will still be a bunch of localisation work to do, as your prospective customers will want to feel like the experience is native to their market.
Our clients using the Shopify Plus platform internationally are seeing unprecedented growth in direct sales, providing better margin and increased brand awareness for their businesses without creating operational overhead.
If you would like to speak to us about our experiences with multi-lingual e-commerce and see what we love working with the Shopify Plus platform and their partners in this challenging environment please reach out to an we can set up a Zoom call to share knowledge.