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How to localize your online store

If globalization was the trend that drove the 90s, then the 2010 onwards, people have started looking inward. One sees more and more city-centric listings and website and everyone wants to be the soul or the essence or the heart of both metros and tier-2 towns alike and everyone wants to sell a localized experience. The broader term for this phenomenon is ecommerce localisation

Pick your city and a simple search will throw up pages and pages of the best waffle place in town, or the best cheesecake, even the best roadside hotdog might be judged.

What we are trying to say is, it’s time your business also speaks to the markets. If you have an online store, you can project a certain appeal – either local or global – through the language, images, placement of products on your store. Here’s a low down:

Language

Yes, of course the language the pages are displayed in makes a big difference. Over the last few years, there has been a focus on regional languages online, and more and more websites and content are now non-English.

For broader geographies such as countries, this is essential. Over the last few months, we have worked with translators to have our plugins translated in about 35 languages. Another resource is the WPML plugin (all our plugins are compatible with it) which helps you setup a WordPress website in any of the supporting languages.

But even within the same state or country, people speak several dialects and each area has its own flavour; in endearments, swear words and other colloquialisms.

Use these nuances in the descriptions of your product, your page content and more. Get local users to give testimonials. It’s all about starting a conversation with your customer and if what you speak is what you write, then the website becomes a conversation starter. Agree, mate?

Photos

You know that using photos is a must. But what kind of photos? This is something most people will not pay attention to. For any sort of models, human or landscape that you need for your website, your first impulse is to go to free stock images. But there is a very obvious bias on most of these sites and will add no character to your website.

Instead, pick your phone (assuming it has a good camera) or hire a professional photographer for a short period and look for local people to pose for you, or take pictures of your neighbourhood, your home, anything that will make the customer go, “Oh! This is from that corner in my city!”.

If you are a florist, for instance, and you want to display a background of tulips (or any such flower). Why not go to the local park or nursery, click a photo and use it. If you sell furniture, find friends and family who would open corners of their home to you. This is how your online store will stand out. By being real.

Product Placement

Say your business is to sell food produce and products. This includes perhaps locally sourced grains, jams, fruits as also cold storage imported items. It’s a simple trick. To your own city, you can display the locally sourced items first. To the more away audience, you can mention the cold-storage, imported items first.

Or books, for instance. If you have a bestseller section, why not have a section on local authors, and display books by them first? Not only is it a responsible business practice, it will set you apart and earn you lots of brownie points from the local junta (that’s public, in Hindi. You see what we did there?).

Currency on Display

This is a no brainer. If you are in the States, but want to ensure a global client, you can simply use a plugin so that the currency displayed is based on the users’ location. We sell Currency per Product that could help you do this. And there are others in the market too.

If your store offers an ensemble of products, some that sell more in some regions, this is an indispensable feature to have and the key to making your online store stand out. Or even if you are selling products from several countries to your local public. Then pricing them in the home currency would add that touch of authenticity to your product presentation.

Seasonal Discounts

This one is interesting. Most retailers have to have season-specific discounts and Christmas, Halloween – these are the usual festivals. However, say you live in Chicago and your store sells customized t-shirts. How about using some big event, like the Pitchfork Music Festival, to give discounts on music-merchandise.

You can do this for any product. If you are a bakery (and we will continue to use Chicago as the example), use the buzz around the several food festivals to position your product. If you sell clothes, pick a fashion event. If you sell furniture, pick an architecture-event. You get the drift?

Collaborations

And lastly, this is for collaborations. Partnerships are the key to making it big in this hustle economy, and look out for organisations in your area/city to further the cause. Sell clothes? Partner with a feminist organisation to promote the cause of body positivity through clothes. Sell alcohol? Get local breweries to gather around on a tasting event. Sell craft items or stationery? Talk to local craftsmen for your content.

Conclusion

Packaging matters. Store layouts matter and in the digital age, you can do all this at the click of a button. At the end of the day, you have to walk the message you want to send out, and cater to the people whom you want the message to be received by. Why are brick-and-mortar stores so popular? They speak ‘home’ when you enter. The chime of the bell, the face of the cashier, the foods on the racks, the layout of the isles, everything is unique.

Your job is to bring that same uniqueness to your online store, whether you cater to a local crowd or a global one.

Browse more in: Customers, Ecommerce, Improve Performance, seasonal businesses, WooCommerce

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