Localization has proven to be the cornerstone of Mouser Electronics’ success around the world. The Dallas, Texas-based semiconductor and electronic component distribution company, which is part of multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, sells some five million products through its website.
According to Matt Madderra, Director of Web Solutions at Mouser, 60% of the company’s sales go through mouser.com, which is localized into 63 different versions and customized for various locales around the globe.
“Our website has about 40 million pages — and, from any customer service perspective, we do pride ourselves on that. While we are based in the United States and all of our products are shipped from our warehouse in Texas, we do have 27 global offices in five continents,” Madderra told the SlatorCon audience in December.
Mouser Electronics has been in business for more than half a century and it has been 15 years since the company decided to go global. “We had built our brand and it really reached saturation in the US market. Being a B2B company, there are only so many niche companies that need our services. And when you’re looking to continue to expand and grow, the untapped market isn’t in the United States; it means global expansion,” Madderra pointed out.
Thus, Mouser partnered with tech-enabled language service provider (LSP) Lingo24, which Unbabel acquired in December.
David Meikle, CTO at Lingo24, shared key parts of the long-standing relationship between the LSP and Mouser with the same audience. He recalled how they went through a “localization strategy exercise,” assessing the different content types that went into the business and understanding what various stakeholders wanted to get out of the localization process.
Key Requirement: Speed to Market
One thing Mouser’s stakeholders expected from the localization process was speed to market. “They said, if we could get our time to market from four weeks to one week, it would be a game-changer for the business,” Meikle said.
He added, “Machine translation (MT) played a big part in that acceleration given the scale of the content.” He explained how the LSP helped automate the Mouser translation process from early on, evolving it to connect directly into the Lingo24 API.
Madderra said Mouser promises its suppliers that, if they are given access to a product first before their competitors, they promise to “market it […] and market it heavily. We will market it to the right people in the right regions. We will market it locally. And so we start getting those sales as quickly as possible.”
“We are not just putting out technical content to help engineers, but actually putting out rich, feature-length content to talk about these new products” — Matt Madderra, Director of Web Solutions, Mouser Electronics
According to Madderra, suppliers know that if they put their product in the Mouser warehouse, Mouser can start shipping it immediately. “We have very fast shipping times that our marketing department works extremely hard to ensure [by seeding] URLs for search engine optimization.”
Getting Domain Adaptation Right
Another key requirement for the LSP was to help Mouser deliver highly sophisticated, technical, multilingual content. Mouser’s Madderra pointed out, “We are not just putting out technical content to help engineers, but actually putting out rich, feature-length content to talk about these new products.”
Mouser relies on a centralized SEO / SEM strategy developed in the US, although in-house SEO / SEM specialists in its regional offices may choose to work with local agencies to support their work. “But for the most part, we try to do all of that internally simply because electronic components are not the easiest thing to understand,” Madderra said.
He added, “A lot of marketing agencies kind of stumble when it comes to keywords and the right type of content or the right things to promote. So we try to do as much as possible in-house.”
Lingo24’s Meikle emphasized how important it is to fine-tune the MT so as to optimize domain adaptation for content as sophisticated as Mouser’s. “Everyone’s using roughly the same transformer models. Everyone’s using neural MT. So if everyone’s applying them, the key trick is getting the data corpus right. Domain adaptation is really what we are focused on.”
How a Small Loc Team Works at Global Scale
Given the long-standing relationship between Lingo24 and Mouser, Madderra said, “We totally trust what Lingo is giving back to us in terms of the quality of the translations. We don’t need all those extra review steps.”
Madderra added that, in some cases, during the exact same week the English content is completed, it is translated, reviewed, uploaded, and published.
Meikle also recalled how they did a lot of terminology work to assist Mouser in coming up with “really cool articles” — something those into electronics would find “super fascinating.”
Crucial to this was the review cycle. Meikle said, “There’s a bit of fear: Could MT do the trick? Certainly. But we wanted to make sure it was done right. So there were a lot of review steps [on Lingo’s part].”
“Everyone’s using roughly the same transformer models. Everyone’s using neural MT. So if everyone’s applying them, the key trick is getting the data corpus right” — David Meikle, CTO, Lingo24
After Lingo24 deployed adaptive machine translation for the Mouser MT to learn on the fly, they fine-tuned the engine to the point where all the extra review cycles could be removed and the system could just focus on processing new content.
According to Mouser’s Madderra, they see Lingo24 as a partner rather than a vendor “because the Lingo staff augments our team. I mean our total translation staff is 10 people globally. That’s a few native speakers in key markets and then a central administrator who manages the day to day here in the US. So a very small group of Mouser employees are making sure this multibillion-dollar engine is working at a global scale.”