The Future of Retail is Multilingual

Imagine stepping into a store where no one speaks your language. You’d likely feel frustration, confusion and, ultimately, disappointment. This same barrier can exist for online shoppers navigating ecommerce sites in languages they don’t understand. Recent estimates forecast that nearly a quarter of global retail sales will come from online channels by 2027, so the ability to serve a multilingual customer base will be essential for businesses seeking global success.

In today’s increasingly globalized market, multilingual support is no longer a luxury but a necessity for online retailers to deliver exceptional customer experiences (CX), successfully serve and grow their customer bases, increase sales and thrive in a competitive landscape. From boosting conversions to fostering loyalty and building trust, the benefits of catering to diverse language needs are undeniable.

Cultivating Exceptional Customer Experiences

It’s no secret that customer experiences can make or break a brand’s reputation. Customers don’t judge businesses by the quality of their products or services alone. The true differentiator is CX. Gone are the days of merely transactional interactions — customers now crave meaningful connections and personalized conversations, and providing these will set your brand apart.

This focus on CX isn’t just a passing trend but rather a fundamental shift in consumer behavior. In fact, according to PwC research, 32% of customers will walk away from a brand forever after just one bad experience. Businesses embracing CX as a strategic imperative position themselves for long-term success. A crucial part of that positive CX is providing service in a customer’s native language.


Despite the importance of multilingual support, most retailers aren’t equipped to provide it. Even Amazon, the paragon of online shopping, only offers customer service in 16 languages. Although 16 is still more than the average retailer, innumerable customers of this online giant remain lost in translation, considering over 7,000 languages are spoken across the globe. Customers unable to access support in their native language are less likely to buy from that brand and more likely to churn. Research shows that nearly 30% of businesses lacking appropriate multilingual support have lost customers.

On the other hand, businesses providing multilingual support see tangible benefits, like bolstered loyalty that improves overall customer retention. Nearly three out of four customers (70%) feel more loyal to companies that offer support in their native language, and it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an established one. Furthermore, businesses have up to a 70% chance of making a sale with an established customer while making a sale with a new customer is successful only about 5-20% of the time. Being able to provide multilingual support ultimately boosts bottom lines.

Choosing a Translation Platform

Retail businesses investing in real-time translation technology for customer service will be better positioned to succeed in the growing global marketplace. However, not all translation platforms are created equal. Many of these platforms lack contextualizing technology and become confused by slang, brand-specific terms and jargon, misspellings, acronyms or instances of using multiple languages in one conversation. Attracting return customers hinges on being able to provide world-class customer support no matter the language they speak. There are several key features to look out for when choosing a translation platform.

  1. The language translation platform you choose must be able to get shoppers the answers they seek; quick, accurate translations are the first step toward that goal. By choosing a low-latency platform that leverages the world’s best machine translation engines, you can feel confident that the best one will be selected almost immediately for whatever language pair you throw at it.
  1. When it comes to translation, context matters. The best solutions will have the ability to pull context from your assets, such as a company-specific glossary with relevant terminology, to ensure that translation outputs are tailored specifically to your organization.
  1. Selecting a platform that can seamlessly integrate with existing technologies like your CRM will facilitate adoption and make your customer service reps’ jobs easier. Rather than flipping through multiple windows and interrupting workflows, reps can access the pertinent information and translation tools all in one place.
  1. A truly valuable translation tool reduces the need to hire multiple fluent speakers for every potential language your customers might speak. Instead of adding to your team, translation technology empowers your existing staff to serve shoppers in any language, streamlining operations and expanding reach.
  1. A language translation platform should prioritize security. Ensuring private customer data is kept private is not just a best practice — in some places, it is the law. Robust security built into the platform reduces your risk of leaked data or security standard noncompliance.

As the online retail space becomes increasingly global, the ability to serve a multilingual customer base is critical for ecommerce success, and partnering with a translation platform that encompasses these four features will set your business up for success. Companies failing to provide support and information in shoppers’ native languages are at a huge disadvantage for entering new markets and cultivating loyalty in existing ones.

In today’s hyper-connected world, customers have unlimited options. Standing out from the competition requires examining your customer experience through the lens of language and tailoring interactions to meet multilingual users’ needs. A real-time translation technology will allow you to cater to a diverse, global clientele and drive sustained growth.

With over a decade of experience in the language and localization industry, Viviana Bertinetto has led diverse teams and managed programs to bridge linguistic and cultural divides. Currently, as the Chief Customer Officer at Language I/O, she is responsible for driving customer success and engagement. She also possesses a strong background in managing localization programs and accounts, having served as a Director of Customer Success and a Localization Program and Account Manager. Bertinetto’s career journey has been enriched by roles in which she managed vendors and quality assurance as well as pioneered innovation and technology in localization.

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