What to think about when selling online to the world

Man using laptop

What actions do our successful exporter clients think are the most important things when selling online globally?

Know your market

  • Understanding what they buy.

  • Understanding why they buy.

  • What's important to them when buying? Price or Quality? Trends or Heritage?

  • To whom do they look for validation? Celebrities or Experts?

  • Demographic information.

Know your competitors

  • Who is successful?

  • With whom will people be comparing you?

  • On what will buyers base their decision? Match this with your demographic research.


  • What online technology will you employ?

  • How could this change through the various stages of development (increase of sales)?

  • Have you got a handle on ‘future proofing’?


Although fashion, retail and many products are now almost at the point where we have hit ‘peak globalisation’, i.e. trends could be the same all over the world, there still may be some variation between countries. Ensure that you are completely confident that your products or services are suitable for each of your target markets.

For example, the Swedish market may prefer clean lines, whereas the Japanese market is enamoured with cuteness. Can you categorise your products so that some will be pushed in one market more than in another?



One of our Swedish cultural experts picked up on a cultural ‘clash’ when she reviewed one of our clients’ fashion marketing text, advising customers to ‘wear your summer gear in winter, by layering up to keep warm’. She confirmed that ‘summer gear’ in Sweden isn’t different enough to ‘winter’ gear to make a distinction and the images of girls in cropped tops certainly wouldn’t work in Sweden!



We're not just talking about the key images on your site, although these do of course have to be right (do the people sitting on a sofa on your site look like your buyers sitting on their sofas in your target market?). But what does each market expect  to see on a website? If you get this right, it will reassure them that you are the right type of company to buy from.



Japanese websites often contain a lot of information and text – this is because Japanese buyers want lots of information - more details mean less risk – they trust more if there is more info. Consistency in language is key – all copy needs to be in Japanese, not just some of it. Japanese websites often tend to be very colourful. This is to organise the mass of text and buttons, provide reassurance and hold the buyer’s attention.

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However, there are definite steps being made towards simplicity, but only the big brands can afford to try this for the time being.

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Accessed 12-12-17



A biggie and actually one of the easiest to get right. Reasons to translate:

  • Buyers can understand you!

  • Even if buyers speak a little English (possibly conversationally), they will be able to understand the detail of what you are selling – essential for some products and services.

  • Having a website in just 13 languages accesses 90% of all the money spent online. (ref. commonsenseadvisory.com, 2014)

  • 60% of online buyers whose first language is not English, rarely or never buy from English-only websites. (ref. commonsenseadvisory.com, 2014)

  • You can control how your brand voice is communicated, whilst matching the target culture’s requirements.

  • Your buyer will know that you want to supply to them on their terms and not just your own.

  • All of these reasons contribute to the fact that translation positively affects your bottom-line profits.

Mass translation of absolutely everything isn’t always required. To start with, you could translate key text and product descriptions. Another idea is to have a collection of generic product descriptions and translate them. This will help you to have a translated description for every product, even though it may not be specific. You can then translate specific product descriptions as and when you want to profile them, because they're popular products or because you want to promote them.

Contact Laurianne to discuss your translation requirements:

0114 4701075  /  le@talkingheads.co.uk.