translating your e-commerce website is an important step to internationalisation

How to save wisely on translating your e-commerce website


With the growth of e-commerce, expanding your business abroad has never been so easy. And there are good reasons for it: global expansion can be extremely rewarding. According to Statista, 35% of Amazon’s revenue in 2016 came from overseas. But globalisation is not only for the biggest players. With the help of reliable spedition companies and online payment methods, more and more smaller e-commerce companies are deciding to make the big leap. The first step to internationalise your business is translating your e-commerce website into the language of your new market.


Why? Research shows that more than half of consumers will not buy from a website where the information is not presented in their native language. So translating your e-commerce website is a logical consequence of the decision to internationalise your business. But with revenues being unsure, many companies balk at paying what they think is ‘too much’ for translation. And more often than not, trying to save money on translation costs them a lot.

What can go wrong if the translation of your online shop is poor?

Having recently had the occasion to proofread the Polish translation of an English online store about to enter the Polish market, I would like to show why choosing the cheapest translator may not necessarily be a good idea.

Can’t find, won’t buy

The shop whose website I proofread sells a wide variety of products, ranging from kitchen and bathroom accessories to clothes, cosmetics, and electronics. In the English version of the page, all these products were tidily divided into appropriate categories (e.g., Kitchen & Gourmet) and subcategories (e.g., Coffee makers and coffee grinders, Tasting sets). But in the translation, the word ‘gourmet’ was left untranslated even though it is a rather recent addition to the Polish language, not known to most of its users. The same happened to ‘tasting’ although this word does not function in Polish at all. ‘Coffee grinders’ was left out altogether.


Of course, one could say, the users can always use the page’s search function. But will they? And what if they are simply looking for a present for a friend who is an amateur cook? How likely are they to go through every kitchen-related category if the names don’t tell them anything?

Imprecise translation won’t provide clear information

For a reason we will probably never know, ‘refund confirmation’ was translated as ‘przelewy kredytowe’ (meaning something like ‘credit money transfers’). If you asked an average Pole what that might mean, they would be able to tell that it has to do with transferring money — but how? If you google the phrase, you will find 812 results, none of which appears on the website of any known Polish bank.


In the best case, such mistranslations will increase the heavy workload of your support team who, instead of concentrating their capacities on urgent requests, will be forced to clarify information that was supposed to be available to your prospective clients right from the start.

Spelling and grammar can make or break your website’s first impression

Imagine you sell supreme, high-end coffee makers. A passionate coffee lover may come across your website with the hope of finding that one coffee maker for a sublime coffee experience. They are willing to pay for it. A coffee machine might look nice in the picture, so they go on to read the description. And then they are assured of the ‘high-qualty’ of the device and that ‘it is a must has for every modern household’. And all of a sudden they are not so sure anymore whether the information on your website can be trusted… According to the online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe, spelling mistakes can cost you as much as half of your revenue.



So, how do you go about translating your e-commerce website wisely?

Hire a professional translator experienced in SEO

A professional translator is not only a master of their native language and that of your website, they will also know how to get your message across to an audience different than your domestic one. Also, when translating your e-commerce website, it is worth looking for a translator who is skilled in SEO. A translator with experience in search engine optimisation will make sure to use the right terms, and in cases in which there are many options available, they will go for the ones that are most widespread to ensure your website’s visibility in search results.

Cut costs only where you can cut them

Some e-commerce websites, online shops in particular, tend to contain much content that is repeated across different pages, e.g., descriptions of similar products. Choose a provider that uses a professional translation software. Such software saves all previous translations in your translation memory and, when analysing new text, it will indicate the number of words in identical or similar sentences to the ones that have been previously translated. Most translators award discounts for such words.

Use a machine translation engine and have the results post-edited by a professional, human translator

Recent years have witnessed tremendous development in machine translation, with the rise of neural machine translation as the most prominent example. Here at Navitep, we will create a neural machine translation engine based on your previous translations. With its help, you can have all new texts pre-translated and then post-edited and proofread by a professional, human translator and proofreader. The end quality of such a translation will be the same as that of a translation provided from start to finish by a human translator, but with faster turnaround and lower cost.

Getting it right from day one

After our proofreading, our client did receive a high-quality, presentable translation that will enhance their credibility in the eyes of their foreign clients. But additional proofreading of an otherwise finished website and then implementing the corrections takes time and money. As they say – if you think hiring a professional translator is expensive, wait till you hire a cheap one. Fortunately, with Navitep hiring a professional won’t cost you an arm and a leg anymore.


Do you need help translating your e-commerce website? Shoot us a line at and we will see how to make our solutions work best for you!


Did you like the article? Would you like to share your experiences of translating your e-commerce website? Leave a comment or email the author.


Patrycja Dittmann