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Translation in the field of e-Commerce

Posted 27/3/2014

The world changes at a fast pace and one of the biggest challenges for translators is to catch up with these changes and developments. Many professionals are learning how to adapt to the new requirements of the industry, which loses its traditional profile a bit more with every passing day.

One of the biggest revolution of the last decade is the completely new role played by e-Commerce and e-Commerce platforms. It has been like discovering the creation of firms and business all over again in the same years, which have seen traditional firms struggle for survival.

Bricks, shops, traditional orders and face-to-face contact and payment have disappeared in favour of programming, CMS, online shopping and electronic payments.

Translation plays an essential role in this pattern: firms have discovered the possibility to reach clients abroad without having to incur the costs of creating subsidiaries, to deal with the bureaucracy of a foreign Country and with linguistic barriers on a daily basis.

Programmers create the articulated, yet friendly, environment of the platform; experts in finance deal with the payment methods and choose trusted providers; web designers take care of the e-architecture and of branding… In addition, as soon as the goal is reaching people, showing what an e-Shop offers, explaining conditions and promotions, which fit a certain market, that is when the Content Team (normally project manager, copywriters and translators) come in handy.

As copywriters will mostly write the content with their target market already in mind, this content will then be transferred to the translation team, which will not only take care of conveying the message in their own language, but will also be faced with the challenge of cultural adaptation.

“Could a traditional way of presenting an apron for housewives be perceived as offensive in the Scandinavian Countries?”

“How do we advertise a promotion for Männertag in Italy?”

“What about the transcreation for a marketing action in Europe taking place on Thanksgiving Day?”

Moreover, translators working in the field of e-Commerce also have to be familiar with HTML, as the content will have to be formatted before its online implementation. The essential instruments for creating texts in bold, in italics, for hyperlinks with text opening in a different window or tab, headers and footers, etc. This technical part will be essential for a correct communication on the web.

Finally yet importantly, it is in the translators’ hands (and heads) to grant the maximum visibility to the e-Commerce platform for which they are working,  to make it successful in their language market and increase the number of potential orders. Therefore, it will be essential for translators to have some knowledge of SEO or to be familiar with the most common online tools for the analysis of keywords popularity.

In the end, we see that the linguist has to be an all-around-professional: language skills do not suffice anymore, technical and marketing knowledge is as well essential for a translator to work in the field of e-Commerce.

That explains why the market may as well hinder a further development of the traditional profile, but at the same time fosters the emergence of a new translator profile: a language consultant with a say in communication and internationalization procedures.