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Finding a balance between localizing and centralizing your brand content

September 25th, 2015

When expanding internationally, it’s important you adapt your strategies to take advantage of local differences in culture, infrastructure, and style. But, working out how to scale ecommerce content and project your brand consistently is a major challenge for retailers.

Your brand is one of your best assets

If you don’t have the people, platforms, and strategies in place to localize your content, you run the risk of affecting your brand’s power, and devaluing your best asset.

It’s important to treat each local site as a separate channel, and ensure a consistent look and feel across all sites. If you have great content, you need to roll it out across all devices, and also to different locations. This is one of the great struggles retailers currently face, and retailers are having to balance between a centralized or localized approach.

Centralizing your content strategy

According to L2 & Amplience’s recent Intelligence Report into localization, many brands are choosing to centralize content production from a single location. Often these retailers have chosen to provide a few sites for everyone, with a handful of languages and currencies.

Net-a-porter’s UK and Japan sites have very few differences, using the same language and layout

This strategy gives brands a faster route to more markets as it’s easier to control fewer languages and currencies, but you are asking many shoppers to meet you more than half way? If you are shopping in Japan, you may not be able to read English, French or Mandarin, for example, and you don’t want to have to convert dollars or yuan into yen. Forcing potential customers to shop in this way creates a bad customer experience that may result in them turning their back on your brand and bouncing from the site.

Localizing your content strategy

Many retailers are choosing instead to roll out dedicated sites for each location, with translation into every language, and conversion into each currency. This means hiring a team of translators, and perhaps a local website team in each country.

Truly localizing a content strategy can mean handing over part of the content production to local teams, which runs the risk of creating an inconsistent experience across sites. This can be fine when it comes to a specific editorial, but central site content should be kept fairly standard.

L’Occitane’s UK and Japan sites are substantially different, using local language, currency, and content

Producing content suitable for each site is a struggle for many retailers, especially if there are different technology systems in place for different sites. If retailers don’t have an agile system, they will have to sacrifice consistency of content, or frequency of publication.

A hybrid approach

As you can imagine, there are ways to compromise on a number of factors. With a good translation team in place, and local knowledge of the market, there is no reason why things cannot be kept central and consistent.

Taking a more visual approach to content, and minimizing the text that needs to be translated is a way of smoothing this process. It may not be worth translating every piece of editorial content into every language you need, but content that uses a greater ratio of pictures to text will make things much easier to translate.

More than anything, having the right technology is essential. With robust and agile technology, content can be created and published rapidly. Bringing your teams, whether they are centralized, localized or otherwise, onto a single collaborative platform can help retailers to streamline this process.

Duplicating and adapting this content can easily become part of this process, as translated text can be incorporated as a layer on top of the same image.

Superdry use text layers over images to simplify the localization process

Retailers need flexible systems that are built to cope with producing high frequency content for different devices and channels. To find out more about how Amplience can help with this challenge, take a look at our solutions page here.

To download a copy of the report by L2 and Amplience, click here.

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