Small Projects, Big Marketplaces. Getting Clients Closer via Localized E-commerce

SlatorCon Remote: Yair Tal, BLEND, Localized E-commerce

As many in the language industry know quite well, there are a million different ways localization can fail, making those could-have-been-perfect campaigns all the more frustrating for buyers and sellers alike. From the spelling error that dooms a slogan to the well-intended marketing spiel that completely misses the mark, even major brands can stumble.

With over 14 years of experience in the electronic payment sphere, BLEND CEO Yair Tal is uniquely positioned to bridge this gap. When Tal joined BLEND in 2019, the Israel-based company was focused on providing fast translations (as implied by its name at the time, One Hour Translation), but was positioned quite broadly across verticals.

“The company was trying to grow globally, serving almost any vertical that we could,” Tal said at the September 2021 SlatorCon Remote.

Shortly after Tal’s arrival, BLEND did a strategic realignment, expanding its localization services while narrowing its focus to specific verticals. For the vast majority of its clients, BLEND provides e-commerce support, a need demonstrated by a 2020 study of 450 European e-commerce websites that found lack of translation to be the most common error on customer checkout pages.

“E-commerce players deal with global payments. That’s why they have to spend time on localization for payments — payment methods, local currencies etc.,” Tal said. “We know that successful e-commerce sites are really targeting the local audience, sellers, and buyers at the same time, with everything they need.”

BLEND operates using a “four-by-four” model, which divides content by when it will be encountered by a potential buyer.

An automated flow of content, consisting of marketing, SEO, and emails, finds the buyer before their first visit to a website. Once the buyer arrives at the homepage, the content must keep their attention.

During the purchasing process, the buyer debates what to buy and how much to spend, and may find it helpful to use a ticketing support system. Post-purchase, the company uses social media, e-mail, and other follow-up tactics to try to lead the buyer back to the store for their next purchase.

Misspellings Spell Trouble for Business

In any economy, sellers need to stay on their game by tailoring their services, products, shipping, and logistics to would-be buyers, but the stakes have only grown higher during the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns have shifted shopping online. Now, Tal said, businesses should do “anything you can do to be closer to your clients, and speak their language.”

This was particularly daunting for companies that have traditionally used distributors to sell their products, Tal noted. With store closures and less in-person shopping during Covid, these sellers realized now was the time to take their merchandise online.

Prior to the pandemic, one of BLEND’s clients had relied completely on its distributors to handle customer support, packaging, and shipping. BLEND walked the company step-by-step through the process of appealing to shoppers locally in order to grow the business. The client saw sales increase significantly, even before starting to work with distributors again.

“I would love to take the credit, but it’s much more than us,” Tal said. “They are making much more doing things themselves and they couldn’t do it before, when they didn’t handle the localization of the entire customer journey.”

The biggest brands usually build their own websites and deal with localization in-house. Smaller companies typically choose to operate their own online stores using a platform, such as Shopify, or to use a marketplace, such as Wish.

With so many companies vying for attention from the same potential buyers, how do consumers decide where to buy? It often comes down to a seller’s reputation. 

BLEND advised one Asia Pacific-based marketplace that learned this lesson the hard way. While the marketplace used machine translation (MT) for marketplace content, individual sellers handled their own localization needs. 

Unfortunately, the hands-off approach was causing problems: Incorrect translations interfered with keyword searches, and sellers’ spelling errors led to a poor reputation for the marketplace as a whole.

Once BLEND introduced MT post-editing into the sellers’ localization efforts, the marketplace saw its reputation rebound, with conversion improving by 8% — far ahead of the original goal of 3%.

Mixing It Up

Just as BLEND helped the clients in these case studies grow their businesses, BLEND has shown that it is open to diversifying. In June 2021, BLEND acquired US-based GM Voices, allowing the company to add recorded-voice and audio localization to its offerings. I Recruit Talent. Find Jobs

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Next up, BLEND plans to launch BLEND Direct, a marketplace that will connect SMBs directly with freelancers who can provide content, SEO, and other linguistic services for smaller projects. 

Tal is optimistic about the future of language service providers, which he suggested can be gauged by the success of their clients.

“Go and look at Amazon and Walmart in any other markets around the globe,” he said. “If they grow, we grow. And I think this is really the same for us in the localization space.”

Watch “Cross Border eCommerce Growth – Best Practices from Leading Brands” with Yair Tal and the full SlatorCon Remote September 2021 event on demand, here.