Translating for Amazon has much in common with translation for other e-commerce platforms. However, you need to take into account some specific issues. Here are our 6 top tips when preparing to translate your Amazon store:
1) Be prepared when translating for Amazon
Like any area of translation, preparation is really important. Ensure you prepare your information well. Make it clear in the original language. Think about translation when writing copy. Puns and plays on words won’t work easily in another language. it is best to avoid them. Writing short, clear sentences also helps.
2) Decide how you will receive and upload the translations
In preparing the text for your chosen translation company, consider how you want to receive and upload the information. International versions of Amazon such as Amazon.de and Amazon.es have the same backend systems as Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. This means that it is possible for us to work directly on an Excel spreadsheet, or similar file. We can provide you with a single target language version of the file. You can then upload it to create your listings. An important aspect of this, is that there are many data fields which won’t require translation. It is really important to give your translation company clear instructions on what they should and shouldn’t translate.
3) Give prominence to your marketing messages
Marketing messages are key. Like in your own language, the power of a good listing is in the quality of its marketing message. Translation can easily overlook this aspect. We talked to a top retailer recently who was looking for a new supplier. Their previous translation company had “let them down”. On further investigation, we found the translators had been “playing it safe” with the product descriptions. Their target language descriptions were not in any way inaccurate. However they lacked the marketing “punch” of the original text. Marketing translation is very specialised. It requires careful time and thought by the translator.
4) Don’t be tempted to use machine translation
Using Google Translate, or a comparable machine translation tool, might be tempting. It is both fast – almost instant, and free. So what’s the catch? You need to carefully word your product listings. If you mis-describe your product, it could hurt sales. However, you could also end up in court. No machine translation tool has the aptitude or ability of a human translator.
Marketing texts very often have to be quite lateral – conveying concepts and ideas, not a literal word by word translation. Then there is the serious risk of error – if a word has several possible meanings, which will the machine choose? Google translate was recently translating “Russia” in Ukrainian as “Mordor” – the mythical dark kingdom of The Lord of the Rings. I’m certain I would find this offensive if I was Russian. Imagine translating your nice product title into an offensive word within the target language. Not a good idea.
5) Consider Localisation for your target market
Localisation, or adapting your product to the target market is really important. Don’t overlook it. We know a local manufacturer who sells children’s fancy dress costumes. When they started selling in Spain, they started by trying to sell their top UK selling products. They found that Spanish parents had major differences in their buying habits. For example, they liked different styles and colours than their UK counterparts. Is your product suitable for the intended target market? Are fashions and trends different there? Will there be demand?
6) Consider any legal issues when translating for Amazon
Legislation: imagine you are selling on Amazon.co.uk and want to sell on another European version of the Amazon platform. Broadly speaking, the same legal requirements for product labels and packaging apply. The EU has common standards in many areas of consumer products. However, this is a complex area of law. You should always get professional advice before trying to sell into another market.
If you are an American business, then the different EU requirements may present a challenge. FDA requirements and EU requirements for labels and packaging can be quite different. Larger companies may have the expertise to deal with this in-house. Smaller businesses are likely to need specialist compliance advice. You should normally address compliance before translation, so we are translating the correct text.
The forgoing are some general tips and advice when translating for Amazon. Our general advice would be to “have a go”. Many products which are successful on a domestic market, will also be successful when sold internationally. A great aspect of the international Amazon platforms is simplified fulfilment. You can leverage the support and branding of one of the world’s most successful e-commerce platforms. For a relatively modest investment, it is also possible to test selling in an international market. This avoids the big commercial risks of setting up your own distribution network, or of establishing local representation. It also avoids the costs associated with localising your own e-commerce site.
If you are considering selling on an international version of the Amazon platform, contact us to discuss your requirements. Translating for Amazon need not be as daunting as it may seem. We can help you avoid many of the common pitfalls experienced by other exporters.