Spanish Website Localization: A Growing Retail Opportunity


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With Hispanic aduls composing a very large and growing demographic for retailers and e-commerce providers, the need for Spanish Websites has never been stronger. To make them work well, a blend of machine translation and human translation is called for, as well as integration with IT and business teams.

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Spanish Website Localization: A Growing Retail Opportunity

  1. 1. • Cognizant 20-20 InsightsSpanish Website Localization:A Growing Retail Opportunity Executive Summary Justifying the Need There are two ways to increase revenues: Large retailers such as Best Buy, Sears, Home entice new customers to buy your products and Depot and most recently Lowe’s understand the services, or get existing customers to buy more potential of the Hispanic community and offer of those products and services. Most initiatives Spanish language versions of their Websites. undertaken by retailers, like other for-profit orga- These developments provide support to the nizations, focus on some combination of these two argument that this demographic is large enough basic revenue improvement methods. Retailers to warrant special attention. However, what reportedly spend billions of dollars annually to do works for these retailers may not work for others. this, optimizing product assortments, adjusting Retailers analyzing this opportunity need to pricing and promotions, introducing loyalty perform proper due diligence to justify their programs, launching new channels and expanding business case. The following factors should be into new geographies. It is therefore surprising considered when evaluating the business case: that online retailers in the U.S. have largely ignored an emerging opportunity that can be cap- • Existing customer base: A retailer that has an italized by creating specific offers and personal- existing Hispanic customer base will obviously ized Web shopping experiences for a fast growing stand to benefit more from launching a Spanish demographic — the Hispanic community. site than a retailer that does not. Though there is no threshold value to justify the cost, a The Hispanic population is already significant standard ROI calculation offers a reasonable in many U.S. locales and is growing at a fast starting point. The field sales team can also pace. Based on data released by the U.S. Census provide valuable inputs in this regard. They can Bureau in 2010, Hispanics are the largest and sense and communicate the need for a Spanish fastest-growing demographic group in the U.S., Website back to the organization. Though this accounting for one in every six Americans.1 Fur- would work best in the case of business-to-busi- thermore, this customer base is rapidly adopting ness models, field surveys can also be fruitful shopping via the Internet.2 in business-to-consumer models. This paper builds the case for ways U.S. online • Geographical presence: Retailers that retailers can successfully target this growing can reinforce their brand image either by demographic by delivering a native Spanish physical store presence or a ship-to-home language online shopping experience. feature in a particular region, or can create targeted marketing campaigns to the Hispanic cognizant 20-20 insights | january 2012
  2. 2. community, will have better chances of success. One of the major retailers in the U.S. had to shut down its Spanish language Website just four The Size of the Pie months after launching it. The main reasons According to a November 2010 report by cited were disappointing sales and because the Selig Center for Economic Growth,3 more than half of the site’s visits originated the buying power of Hispanic-Americans outside the United States. is expected to rise from $1 trillion in 2010 to $1.5 trillion in 2015 — accounting for• Demographics: Hispanic-dominant and bicul- tural segments should be the target audience almost 11% of the nation’s total buying for Spanish language Websites. These seg- power. However, according to an AOL ments are comprised of individuals who are study in the same year,4 Hispanics are foreign born, speak and consume most media further divided into Hispanic dominant, in Spanish and have a mean age of 34 to 40 bicultural, and U.S. dominant. years.4 A retailer targeting or planning to target Hispanic dominants, representing 26% this demographic segment may see launching of online and 52% of the offline popula- a Spanish Website as a reasonable investment. tion, consume most media in Spanish, and• Product types: According to a Google and OTX primarily speak Spanish. Thus, Hispan- study,7 Hispanics use the Internet as the primary ic dominant or the Spanish-speaking source for discovering product information. segment is a sizeable customer segment Over 37% of Hispanics research online before that can and should be tapped, if a busi- buying in store or online. Websites can provide ness case can be made. While this segment useful information to customers, helping them has strong buying power, it is also acces- learn more about a product or brand. Therefore, sible on the Internet: a retailer offering products such as electronics and home furnishings that need assisted selling • According to a research published by Pew Hispanic Center in 2010, about would be more likely to succeed in this venture. two-thirds of Hispanic adults (65%) This inference is also strengthened by the fact went online in 2010, and nearly half that retailers such as Lowe’s and Best Buy (45%) of them use broadband at home. have successfully launched Spanish Websites. Also, Hispanic cell phone owners are Although the recent ventures present success more likely than white non-Hispanic cell cases for specific product categories, driving phone owners to access the internet traffic to a Website is certainly a good up-sell (40% vs. 34%).5 opportunity. • Hispanics are significantly more likelyKey Considerations to have a smartphone than the generalA 2010 Hispanic cyber-study points out that there population and are “social mediais a general perception within the community that shoppers.”6Spanish Websites do not offer all the features These trends point to a huge untappedavailable on their English-language counter- opportunity to offer online and mobileparts, are less useful, and probably not secure.4 experiences in Spanish by localizingSo, a Spanish site will have to achieve the same, content and products based on prefer-or even greater, levels of quality as an English ences of the Hispanic to be considered credible and useful. Thismeans retailers must invest in quality translation,manage a localized product assortment, createongoing customized messaging and promotions, They would estimate charges based on numberlocalize the look and feel for Hispanic prefer- of source words to be translated, complexity ofences, and provide Spanish-speaking customer the subject matter, and overall time needed forservice and support. translation. The quoted price should reflect the• Cost: Although initial translation of the English cost for language experts, proofreaders and language Website will be a major part of the administration/project management. Retailers overall cost, the ongoing charges for incremen- can ask translation companies to maintain tal changes would decline substantially over a dictionary of translated words and use it time. Translation companies typically charge if words are repeated on the Website in the a fee for each word translated on the Website. future. cognizant 20-20 insights 2
  3. 3. To keep the Spanish language site in sync with be it on the vendor side or internal to their the English version, retailers will need to invest organization. This team should be able to in ongoing maintenance and support. External understand the nuances of the language and vendors will charge a contractual fee for judiciously deviate from the verbatim trans- maintaining and hosting the Spanish site, but lation to make the content contextual to the retailers can, alternatively, host the Spanish Hispanic community. This is critical to success Website on their infrastructure. In either case, as these experts will be responsible for there will be an infrastructure set-up cost in improving the quality of translation. additional to the support costs. • Beyond content: Launching a successful• Future project dependencies: Internal stake- Spanish site will require investment beyond holders must understand that the time-to- site content. All customer supporting processes market for future projects might increase due will require multilingual support. In addition, to the need to support two languages. Any back-end systems that manage front-end changes on the English Website will have to be content may also need to be upgraded to published on the Spanish site as well. This is enable multilingual publishing capabilities. a critical point as the success of the Spanish Product information management systems, site will depend on how closely it mirrors the product image servers and even exception- English site. Retailers need to have proper handling support routines that allow modifica- governance in place to ensure that the sites do tion of content will have to support Spanish. not diverge unless absolutely necessary. Getting Started• Benefits time frame variance: While the implementation time frame for a Spanish Creating a Spanish version site is not just about site could range from two to four months, its translation; it is about a customer experience benefits might be realized over a longer time that your Hispanic community can relate to. frame. Promoting to the right people and Technology is the easiest part; implementation getting them to shop comfortably on the site can typically take between two and four months. requires a continuous effort over a longer time The critical success factors lie in the translation, frame. Retailers will have to keep this in mind and commitment to ongoing operational and when setting expectations with their internal marketing support that deliver an experience stakeholders about payback horizons. that is relevant, genuine and ultimately useful to browsing and buying.• Marketing and communications: Success of the Spanish site will depend heavily on Technology promoting it to the right audience and Defining an implementation approach is the next managing marketing and advertising in milestone after completing the business justifica- Spanish. This will definitely require additional tion. There are many companies in the market that investment. Marketing experts will be needed have expertise in Spanish translation. Many of to design and drive campaigns in Spanish, these companies also have IT capabilities needed monitor their success, and act as a feedback for the implementation. Retailers will have to loop to improve the overall Spanish Website undertake a thorough vendor evaluation exercise experience. to find the right implementation partners, partic-• Security: While a customer is shopping on the ularly if external translation sources are required. Spanish Website, data might leave the retailer’s However, there are many aspects of implemen- network and could be potentially compromised. tation that a retailer’s IT team may choose to This could happen if the Spanish Website is handle in-house. Figure 1 (next page) lists some hosted outside the retailer’s infrastructure vital tasks split between a retailer’s IT/business or if there is a communication with a third- teams and the vendor’s translation team. party integration partner such as credit card processors. Thus, retailers must comply with Retailers can save on translation cost if they security and privacy measures when dealing already have some components that can be with data communication involving the Spanish reused. For example, if the POS systems in certain site. Also, the data security and privacy policy geographies use a Spanish product catalog then for data captured from the Spanish site must the new Website could reuse such translated mirror the English site. catalog components. Similarly, if a retailer has a Spanish print catalog, it can reuse language-spe-• Expertise of linguists: Retailers must look at the expertise of the team of Spanish linguists, cific product images from that catalog. cognizant 20-20 insights 3
  4. 4. Dividing and Conquering Back-end Marketing and Integration Communication IT and Business Team Spanish Identify functionality/UI transla- Translation Team tion needs; de ne rules and Hardware/software setup. Translate Website content, share glossary of translated terms. Implement catalog and content management changes. Catalog translation. SEO and analytics setup. Spanish Translate Spanish keywords, Website suggestions, dynamic messages. De ne directive tags for special translation requirements. Ongoing translation and ad hoc translations. Unit testing/system integration testing/UAT/beta test. Translate rich media content like images, presentations, PDF, etc. Deployment and monitoring. Third-Party IntegrationFigure 1Translation • The context of the translated text can getThere are three options for translation services. lost due to the MT translating ”words” notFirst is a pure machine translation (MT), which “meanings.”involves the lowest cost of the three options, has • Brand voice, style, and look-and-feel pervasivequick turnaround time, and is easy to implement. within the retailer’s other assets might be lost.The second option is complete human transla-tion (HT), which would require more investment, • Images, flash contents, videos, etc. are not translated by MT.has a longer turnaround time, and is difficult toimplement. The third option is a mix of MT and • E-commerce catalog content is not translatedHT. While MT makes use of computer software to just by crawling the site.translate text from one language to another, itneeds to be supported by HT to restore quality • Internal search options, dynamic error messages and dynamic confirmation overlaysand retain relevance. Spanish translation using are not translated by MT.pure MT presents some linguistic challenges,most of which can be addressed by human Back-end Support and Integrationexperts. Linguists understand the nuances of While Spanish translation primarily deals withthe Spanish language, can fine-tune the transla- Website changes, there is some foundationaltion, and can perform some translation manually. work needed on back-end systems and other inte-Some challenges with pure MT include: gration touch-points to make the entire initiative• Spanish words are 33% longer than their a success. English counterparts; pure translation could • Call center: There might be a need to support therefore distort the layout and format of call centers for Spanish customers. For pages. example, setting up Spanish live chat or training• Some English words do not have a Spanish Spanish-speaking agents to address customer form. concerns.• Proper nouns, brands, names, addresses, • Third-party integration: All third-party inte- etc. will not need translation but would get grations must also support the Spanish Website. translated by pure MT. For example, if some rich content originates cognizant 20-20 insights 4
  5. 5. from a third-party integration partner’s community. This challenge is an ongoing Website for the English site, then there may one, in which retailers need to continuously be a need to have that originating content improve the Spanish site in terms of cultural translated for the Spanish site. preferences for graphics, pictures, colors and navigation structure. Once the initial transla-• Internal back-end systems: E-commerce tion is done, retailers can execute A/B tests or functions such as merchandising and use other means to improve these aspects on managing site content will also need support; the Spanish site. some changes may be required to support the Spanish Website. For example, some tweaks Cross-Channel Integration might be needed to the merchandising system According to Forrester Research,8 “Traditional to accommodate Spanish description of ways of describing multichannel commerce no promotions in order to enhance their appeal to longer work because customers don’t interact Spanish-speaking customers. with companies from a ‘channel’ perspective.”Retailers need a Spanish template for email Hence, retailers will have to integrate theircommunications sent to Spanish customers. An Spanish site with their overall Agile commerceorder or shipment confirmation from the Spanish landscape. The Spanish Website must not beWebsite should not go out in English. Therefore, developed as a stand-alone channel; rather, itall emails on the English site will need to be must be a new customer touch-point to providetranslated for the Spanish Website. a seamless shopping experience. Hence, retailers must consider the Spanish Website from mobile,Retailers must act on search engine optimization kiosks, in-store support, and social media perspec-(SEO) opportunities to drive traffic to the Spanish tives and tie it back to their overall multichannelWebsite. According to the Google/OTX study, 53% strategy.of U.S. Hispanic retail consumers typically usesearch engines for retail information. Therefore, Conclusionoptimizing content for search is critical to driving This white paper offers recommendations on waystraffic to Spanish Websites. U.S. retailers can launch a Spanish Website that effectively converts the growing U.S. HispanicRetailers may also have to make some changes demographic segment into loyal and profitableto their warehouse processes to accommo- customers. However, retailers will have to builddate Spanish Website needs. There will be some a strong business case to support this requirements from packaging and There are many milestones involved; some canshipping perspectives. Changes must be made to be achieved internally, others will require supportdesign flyers, print labels, instructions sheets, etc. from external experts. Above all, this initiativeto accommodate Spanish-speaking customers. will need strong backing from internal business stakeholders and a commitment to look atRaising the Bar long-term benefits. Although the initial trans-While translation of the Website is certainly the lation of an English Website is the most criticalfirst step, there are other critical steps needed to stage, success of this initiative also demandsmake the initiative effective in the long run. continuous support over time.Localization The launch of a Spanish Website, in fact, may• Product: Retailers must conduct an exercise not be an end in itself. Retailers will have to con- to understand product preferences among tinuously work toward making the Website more the Hispanic population. They will have to appealing to the Hispanic community and tuning deploy business intelligence tools, surveys, it to suit customer preferences. Finally, retailers etc. to understand preferences of the Hispanic must take the Spanish site to the next level by community and then merchandise and promote viewing it holistically in the context of an overall localized product assortment on the Spanish multichannel strategy. The ultimate goal must be site. to provide a culturally relevant Website that acts as a seamlessly integrated channel within the• Web design: The Spanish Website experience must be culturally relevant to achieve an retailer’s overall go-to-market objectives. emotional connection with the Hispanic cognizant 20-20 insights 5
  6. 6. Footnotes1 The Hispanic Population: 2010 Census Briefs.2 US Hispanics Online: Demographics: Published by Annual minority buying power report released by the Selig Center for Economic Growth.4 2010 Hispanic Cyber-Study: Published by AOL.5 Latinos and Digital Technology, Pew Hispanic Center, 2010.6 The market research report, “Share of Wallet: Hispanics — US — February 2010” by Mintel International Group Ltd.7 US Hispanic Retail Consumers, Google/OTX, U.S. Mar 2011, Welcome To The Era Of Agile Commerce, 2011, Brian Walker, Forrester Research, March 2011, the AuthorNavneet Dubey is a Senior Consultant with Cognizant Business Consulting. He works with retailers ontheir multichannel initiatives and has a master’s degree in business administration from SP Jain Centerof Management, Singapore. He can be reached at CognizantCognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process out-sourcing services, dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses. Headquartered inTeaneck, New Jersey (U.S.), Cognizant combines a passion for client satisfaction, technology innovation, deep industryand business process expertise, and a global, collaborative workforce that embodies the future of work. With over 50delivery centers worldwide and approximately 130,000 employees as of September 30, 2011, Cognizant is a member ofthe NASDAQ-100, the S&P 500, the Forbes Global 2000, and the Fortune 500 and is ranked among the top performingand fastest growing companies in the world. Visit us online at or follow us on Twitter: Cognizant. World Headquarters European Headquarters India Operations Headquarters 500 Frank W. Burr Blvd. 1 Kingdom Street #5/535, Old Mahabalipuram Road Teaneck, NJ 07666 USA Paddington Central Okkiyam Pettai, Thoraipakkam Phone: +1 201 801 0233 London W2 6BD Chennai, 600 096 India Fax: +1 201 801 0243 Phone: +44 (0) 20 7297 7600 Phone: +91 (0) 44 4209 6000 Toll Free: +1 888 937 3277 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7121 0102 Fax: +91 (0) 44 4209 6060 Email: Email: Email:© Copyright 2012, Cognizant. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by anymeans, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission from Cognizant. The information contained herein issubject to change without notice. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.