Localization matters: Why clients prefer to buy in their own language

Localization. Why clients prefer to buy in their own language

Multilingual websites are a great way to communicate with global customers and localization can have a big impact on your sales. In fact, according to Can’t Read, Won’t Buy Research, 65% of customers prefer websites in their own language. More importantly, 40% will not buy if the content is in another language.

But why is this? Well, Can’t Read, Won’t Buy is an international survey by CSA Research that highlights the importance of multilingual websites. The survey includes nearly 50 questions to customers in 29 countries that help understand global customer preferences. These include:

  • How would you compare time spent on sites in English vs. your language
  • For product or services in the following market sectors, please score the importance of language to your purchase decision [Financial and travel services, Electronics and automobiles, Personal care and household products, Commodities].
  • I am more likely to purchase products with information in my own language
  • How often do you use machine translation to better understand English-language websites

To see the full survey, click here.

Findings on the importance of localization

English proficiency

According to the Can’t Buy, Won’t Read survey, English proficiency influences traffic to English-language websites. In this regard, some statistics that stand out are as follows:

  • 45% of visitors with low English proficiency visit English websites regularly.
  • 83% of visitors with a good level of English visit English websites at least once a month.
  • High English proficient consumers are 6 times more likely to shop on English websites than low English proficient consumers.
  • Over 89% of foreign customers spend more time on sites that are in their native language
  • Significant differences exist between nationalities and access to English-language websites. Some countries such as France (89%) and Japan (87%) prefer to visit websites in their own language.

These statistics show that customers feel more confident browsing and shopping on websites in their own language. Especially those who do not have a good command of English or where access to English is limited. In other words, translating and localizing websites into languages other than English can attract a large percentage of customers, both English proficient and non-English proficient. This is even more important for prospects from countries that prefer content in their own language, such as France and Japan.

Basically, localization can increase traffic to your website, increase buying opportunities and improve customer relationships.

The importance of documentation in their own language

Another factor that influences the buying decision of cybernauts is the content offered in their native language. This includes product specifications, user manuals, datasheets, customer reviews, among other things. According to the information gathered, offering customers information in their own language can influence their purchasing decision by 60 to 70 percent. This applies specially to purchases of high-cost products and services such as automobiles, household appliances, computers and other technologies.

Respondents were asked whether they prefer to buy a product with information in English or a similar product in their native language but more expensive. All indications are that consumers prefer to buy the product that offers information in their native language, especially 64% of consumers who are not proficient in English.

So, if you offer luxury or high-cost products, it is a good practice to fully translate your website, including all the information the customer may need such as specifications, manuals, support documents and FAQs.

Other localization concerns

One of the problems many customers encounter is that the website is not fully localized. This includes the localization of forms, where the customer must provide information such as addresses, zip code, phone number, credit card information. This forces customers to abandon the website or cancel the purchase as the data entered is not accepted. Likewise, the location of the exchange rate can influence the purchase decision.

Another aspect is cultural sensitivities. In this regard, localization helps to adapt text, images and color without offending the beliefs and preferences of global customers.

A great example of wrong localization


The launch of Amazon Sweden website is a great example of everything NOT to do in localization. In October 2020, Amazon had major problems with the translation of their website into Swedish. Basically, Amazon chose to translate their website with machine learning functionality of rather dubious quality. The result was a website plagued with translation errors, unwanted swearing, confusion between flags, localization errors in units of measurement and of course a lot of memes and comments on social networks. In short, it was a total failure.

Had they left the translation of their website in the hands of localization experts, none of this would have happened. Website localization is a detailed process that involves professional translation, proofreading down to the smallest detail, and linguistic and cultural adaptation.

Basically, with proper localization, Amazon could have achieved the following:

  • Avoid the mistake where the flag of Sweden was confused with the flag of Argentina.
  • Avoid translation errors for words like cock, death, rape, drug strap and many others that caused laughter and annoyance among many customers.
  • Correct localization of measurements. Use of “feet” instead of “meters”.
  • Avoid damaging your image and losing customer confidence

If you are thinking of translating your website, but don’t want to have the same problems Amazon had a year ago, we are here to help. We are experts in website translation and localization and can help you increase your customers’ trust by offering content in their own language.

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