Necessity of language versions of a website
Growth with the help of multilingual websites
It is not only country-specific legal and bureaucratic peculiarities that quickly become a challenge when entering new European or global markets. For 10% of SMEs, a lack of language and cultural skills is an obstacle to the internationalization of their company. However, expansion is often worthwhile because there are potential customers for many products, especially in neighboring countries and in similar cultural circles. Targeted marketing activities can open up these new customer groups. Of course, this also includes a multilingual website.
The most common language versions in German online stores
English is the most widely used language on websites with 52.3% (as of January 2017, source: Q-Success via statista.com). 48% of the top 50 online retailers in Germany have a website that is also available in English in addition to the German version - closely followed by language versions in French (46%), Dutch (46%), Polish (40%) and Italian (34%) (source: OC&C; Google via statista.com). Our customer PEMA - European leader in the rental of manufacturer-independent commercial vehicles - is headquartered in Germany, but is at home throughout Europe. This is already clear from the URL pema.eu. The website currently has eight different country versions: Site visitors from Germany, England, Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium are addressed in their respective national languages. Within the Belgian website variant, visitors can switch between French and Dutch using a language switch.
The advantages of different language and country versions:
Opening up new markets: 90% of Internet users in the EU prefer websites in their native language. Only 18% of users buy products online from sitesin foreign languages.
So by expanding their external presentation with language differentiation, retailers can tap into new sales markets and significantly increase their sales opportunities abroad.
Market-specific content: Due to regionally different mentalities, it often makes more sense to provide country-specific content. When formulating the article description, it should be taken into account that different product benefits or application scenarios may be relevant for the individual nationalities. Playful product photos may be well received in Japan or China, while they may seem too kitschy to visitors from other countries.
Relevance for internal communication
A company's website is, in a sense, the digital home of its employees. Therefore, it should be available in the languages of all countries where company locations exist. This strengthens employees' sense of belonging, ensures a more positive external image, and facilitates the flow of information between customers and employees in service and support.