The impact of globalisation and the ubiquitous presence of the internet have made new markets more accessible than ever before. For many businesses, physical distance and geographical borders become less and less of a challenge for trade, while linguistic and cultural barriers remain. Whether dealing with customers or partners, it’s important to get your message across and translation technology can help you do so.
Automatic translation apps can be great for a quick and free translation. Despite advances in this technology, however, many widely available apps can be prone to significant errors. Try translating a chunk of your website copy into another language and translating it back again – it’s unlikely to be as smooth and error-free as the original. Despite this, improvements are being made every day.
Instant translation can be a boon when it comes to direct communication however. Skype has unveiled its Translator preview, which provides ‘real time’ written translations of verbal communications between two parties. While this could be very useful for virtual business meetings, there appear to be a number of issues that need to be ironed out, including delays in translations, a limited number of available languages and difficulties dealing with regional dialects and accents.
What can assist both of these developments though are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and the ability to integrate translation software into an existing platform for a fast and seamless translation workflow. For industries such as e-commerce, when time to market is very important, having as smooth a process as possible can help save those valuable hours and days. Direct plugins to leading e-commerce platforms like Magento means that international e-commerce is more accessible to merchants than ever before.
One German retailer wanted to be able to update its product catalogue on all of its international websites as soon as it had the details, so its global customers didn’t have to wait any longer than anyone else to access its new product ranges. With a connection via API directly to a language provider’s platform, it could use better quality premium machine translation for instant translations and publish them straight away.
The importance of localisation
There are countless examples of translation “gaffes”, even from reputable brands, while numerous research articles proclaim the importance of localisation in terms of ROI and conversions. That’s not to say that businesses need to invest in professional human translation for all their content, but they should at least be aware of where there are sensitivities.
For e-commerce this can make a huge impact on business – some customers may get all the way to the checkout but abandon their purchase at the last minute due to confusion over payment methods or currencies. Meanwhile some products could see a huge rise in returns having been effectively mis-sold in their translated description.
Choosing the right technology
As mentioned, depending on a company’s current issues, goals and budget, there are a variety of services and translation technologies available to assist global expansion. Higher volume, lower value products could be translated with machine translation via API, while some businesses may want to invest in professional human translation for specific sections of their site, i.e. their homepage. A blended approach can often work best, but it’s all in the research.
Christian Arno is the founder and CEO of translation company Lingo24. An Oxford University graduate, Christian won the Shell LiveWIRE ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in 2003, the HSBC Business Thinking Award in 2010, and the TAUS Excellence Award – Best Insider in 2012. Follow Christian on Twitter @l24ca Follow Lingo24 on Twitter @Lingo24