4 key ecommerce trends to watch in 2015

As people use their computers and smartphones to purchase everything from high-end electronics to groceries, ecommerce is only growing in popularity. According to Entrepreneur magazine, 2014 hit an all-time high of $1.3 trillion in ecommerce sales and the number of regular users continues to grow.

“There was $1.3 trillion in ecommerce sales in 2014.”

However, along with these indicators of success, there’s also plenty of competition. If you want your business to make a name for itself on an ecommerce marketplace and stand out among competitors, it’s important to follow industry trends closely. Check out these four trends so you can capitalize on a growing consumer base in 2015.

1. Establish a presence in India 
Advertising and selling to people in foreign markets isn’t a new trend in ecommerce. However, one of the emerging markets that’s expected to become increasingly involved with and important to ecommerce is India.

According to Indian small business magazine Your Story, one of the reasons that the country is poised to become more important to online retailers is the growth of Internet access and mobile devices. There are roughly 1 billion mobile users in India, with about 200 million more connected devices expected to be added during 2015, Your Story reported.

With a quickly transforming economy and a booming population, India is the perfect target for any ecommerce site. However, Your Story explained that because it’s still an emerging economy, small businesses and entrepreneurs have an even better opportunity by getting more value on impactful marketing.

“India is expected to add 200 million more mobile devices in 2015.”

Start transforming your website and app to handle Indian traffic with professional translation services. Although English is one of the official languages of India, people are substantially more likely to purchase in their native language and trust the company that they’re buying from. Focus on Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Telugu translation and localization services to attract a wide array of Indian users.

2. Focus on mobile design 
It’s not just Indian users who are buying on their smartphones. Populations all over the world are seeing massive jumps in ecommerce action over mobile devices. About 66 percent of the time spent on ecommerce websites is done on a mobile device, Entrepreneur magazine explained. Conversely, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, a 61 percent majority of users will leave the website.

Avoid this high bounce rate and convert time on the site into sales by making every part of your Web presence mobile friendly. Ensure that your website and app are both easily navigable on a phone, tablet or other device. Entrepreneur recommended a streamlined responsive design that allows for user-friendliness. Get in front on this trend by acting now – only 9 percent of ecommerce sites are currently responsive.

Be prepared for software wallets to replace credit cards.Be prepared for digital wallets to make an impact on online sales.

3. Prepare for more payment options 
Services like PayPal have already made significant changes to the way people make purchases online. However, the next trend may be branded digital wallets, which have been rolled out as physical pay stations at some stores. Apple and Google are putting significant amounts of effort and money behind improving and increasing the use of Apple Pay and Android Pay, respectively. Make sure your business is prepared for the likely emergence of these two payment tools.

4. Take advantage of online marketplaces for international customers  
Each year, attracting a greater number of international and foreign customers is an ecommerce trend. It’s logical to look for a larger audience to increase your sales and customer base. However, it can be difficult to break into a foreign marketplace, although translation and localization can help. Business2Community recommended small businesses use existing ecommerce marketplaces to find customers and establish a footing.

Retailers have already been using Amazon and Rakuten in large numbers to reach their customers and that trend is expected to continue. Because ecommerce marketplaces aren’t expected to go anywhere anytime soon, small businesses can use them to establish a customer base in various communities. Just be sure that when your customer clicks on your website, looks you up or emails for customer service that you have a Web presence in his or her language that he or she can access.

Dos and Don’ts: Cutting the cost of translation

With quickly growing numbers of non-English Internet users everywhere from India to Nigeria, translating can help you reach a new audience of thousands, millions or even billions. Having some or all of your Web services translated into other languages can boost your search engine rankings, build trust with foreign communities and bolster sales. An overwhelming majority of people are more likely to shop and purchase in their native language, according to the Harvard Business Review.

“Translation can improve SEO, market exposure and sales.”

However, translating your Web presence and apps into other languages can be a major undertaking. Before you invest in a business localization service or translation app, here are a few dos and don’ts you should know, so that you can budget wisely and end up with a product you’re proud to call your own.

Do: Ask for volume discounts and establish long-term partnerships
Translating an app, localizing a website or adding a new language portal to your domain are all significant business decisions and should be treated as such. Problems can arise when companies think of translation as a one-off project where they’ll have text translated then end the relationship with the company.

The smartest and most cost-efficient move is to create a long-term business relationship with your translation company like you would with any other supplier. This trust will allow for easy translation going forward as you expand your website or develop a new app. You won’t have to negotiate a new fee structure each time or find the best quote, and you’ll already have a company that’s familiar with your business and ready to translate.

Additionally, ask about volume discounts. If you have a large amount of text to be translated and localized, the translation services business will likely be willing to give you a significant discount. While you’re saving money, volume discounts also benefit the translators by locking in a customer, beating their competitors and getting a guaranteed large order, according to the HBR.

Develop a strong relationship with your translation services company for mutual benefits. Develop a strong relationship with your translation services company for mutual benefits.

Don’t: Try to find the cheapest translation service
Cheap translation services are comparable to cheap wine. While the idea of a $3 bottle of merlot may be appealing in the store aisle, you may be less enticed when you think what must have gone into that bottle to make it so inexpensive. Translation is the same way.

If you go for the cheapest service, you may end up overpaying for an underqualified freelance translator whose work isn’t proofread or checked. To get your website presentable again, you may even have to hire another translator to clean up sloppy mistakes.

Instead, opt for a reliable, professional translation service that guarantees its work.

Do: Leverage translation memory
Translation memory allows programmers and translators to quickly and easily access words, phrases and anything else that has already been translated for you. Host this data in the cloud to guarantee it’s there and accessible when you need it, and allow translators to easily translate information in a simple format.

Leveraging translation memory can help cut costs either immediately or down the road for your business by eliminating the need to pay twice for the same translation, cutting down on errors and even improving the speed at which a project can be completed. Essentially, hosting translation memory in the cloud and giving your translators access will give you a more accurate result in less time for a smaller price.

Don’t: Use machine translation
According to The Economist, Google Translate has about 200 million users worldwide each month. While this service may be enticing, it’s not the best idea. Google and other machine translators may be cheap, but so are their results.

“Machine translation can be worse than no translation at all.”

Machine translators frequently make mistakes when translating nuance, idioms or many phrases that aren’t simply constructed sentences. When these translation errors end up on your website, it can actually be worse than not translating at all. It can hurt your SEO and – if customers ever see your poorly translated page – it could damage the relationship you want to build with your new audience before it starts.

Google Translate doesn’t completely guarantee accuracy in its results. Instead, turn to a company that uses human experts to translate your language completely.

Do: Eliminate the manual parts of translation 
You shouldn’t be spending your time or money copying and pasting translated text from emails and documents to your Web platform or vice versa. This ends up wasting your and your employees’ time and slows down the whole project.

Instead, use cloud-based services that will completely automate your workflow. This lets your translators simply translate the text you want in a easy-to-use format and then apply it wherever you need without adding unnecessary steps.

3 ways companies benefit from translation services

Making your business available to non-English and foreign markets can be a smart decision. You can bring your product to a greater number of people while establishing a brand presence outside your traditional consumers. You may even face less opposition and develop a niche following. However, if you don't take the right steps with website translation and app localization, you may not be able to even contact this new demographic. 

By using professional translation serves, companies are able to reach new audiences on the Web in their native language without any of the embarrassment, confusion and headaches that can come with using translation apps. Check out these three ways that website and app translation can help your business. 

1. Improved search ranking 
When you want to bring in new consumers and organic traffic to your website, it's important that you focus your time and money on search engine optimization. Anyone looking for your product or service will use a search engine to find it, and with the right approach you'll be there on the first page with related content. 

Focus on boosting your SEO in other languages. Focus on boosting your SEO in other languages.

One of the quickest ways to guarantee that you won't be on the first page is if your site or a few important pages aren't in the user's native language. You need to have a properly translated presence in any market you're looking to get into if you want it to appear in search results. 

To get your content to the top of search results, you should focus on social media. According to Mashable, Twitter is a critical part of getting your content to rise to the top of the results and explode in popularity internationally. Between 2009 and 2010, Twitter usage grew 300 percent in Latin America and 243 percent in the Asia Pacific. If you want to rise in the search results, you need users to respond to content in their native language then share it, retweet it or like it. 

Additionally, do some research into the best keyword options. Often, it isn't just a direct translation of U.S. keywords. Use local data to target what people in your new markets are actually looking for. Sometimes, it's an English-hybrid phrase. 

2. Higher conversion 
Getting your new audience to convert into sales is a critical aspect of any business. However, focusing just on English language sales can be limiting.

"72 percent are more likely to buy in their native language."

According to a Common Sense Advisory survey of 2,430 Web consumers in eight countries that was published in the Harvard Business Review, more than 72 percent of Web users spend most or all of their time on sites in their native language. Additionally, 72.4 percent said that they'd be more likely to make a purchase in their native language, with 56.2 percent saying that native language information made them more likely to buy than the price itself. 

This survey explained that people are much happier to buy products in their own language, even if it costs more, and they're more likely to see your product or service if it has a Web presence in their language. The HBR article went on to explain that this is especially important in places such as Europe that have many languages. 

3. Better customer support 
Whether through a FAQs page, email or a chat window, customer service
won't be optimal without professional translation services. If you have no native language Web presence, these buyers will have no way to get help. This can lead to poor Yelp or Google reviews, which can hurt your presence in the new market before you even get started.

Focus on providing mutilingual customer service.Focus on providing multilingual customer service.

Many people turn to translation apps or machine translation for customer service, but it just doesn't get the job done. Translations can come out wrong or confusing, only compounding your customer's service needs. 

Instead, use translation services to provide the best possible customer service for your new audience. People aren't always in the best mood when they have to contact customer service, so providing them help in their native language is the first and most basic step to helping them through their issue. Consider translating FAQ and help pages, using translation-based email responses and hiring a native speaker to address any potential problems.

Keep up with these 4 online education trends

E-learning is a quickly growing industry that is simultaneously moving in different directions. Skill-specific programs are being valued in the billions, while at the same time inclusive massive open online courses are filling with hundreds of thousands of students curious to learn without necessarily getting any credit.

Help your business evolve with the rapidly shifting landscape of online education by paying attention to these recent events and current trends.

“Global online learning is expected to hit $107 billion in 2015.”

1. E-learning is growing around the world

While news reports and advertising frequently focuses on young American students enrolling in online programs for convenience sake, the technology behind e-learning has allowed it to become a global industry. According to a report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the global online learning marketplace is expected to hit $107 billion in 2015.

Faster internet connections and more connected devices allow people from all over the globe to take part in interactive activities, stream lecture videos and connect with fellow students for collaborative work.

Inc. magazine pointed out that in 2014, education technology funding rose more than 50 percent and looks to continue increasing in the near future. As the technology continues to improve, it’s likely that the demand will grow as more people want to learn new skills and improve their careers.

Use app translation and localization services to reach these curious and knowledge hungry students. Take advantage of this trend toward greater international e-learning by advertising, communicating or teaching courses in these potential students’ native languages before your competitors have the chance.

Professional e-learning has become a successful online learning option for many. Professional courses have become a successful online learning business.

2. Professional e-learning is valuable 

Professional, corporate or skill-focused e-learning has emerged as one of the most profitable, respected and effective forms of e-learning. On April 9, 2015, professional networking website LinkedIn paid about $1.5 billion to acquire lynda.com and all of the educational material it owns.

Lynda.com, first established in 1995, emerged as a respected source learning about business, technology and other professional skills. LinkedIn could use the company to create its own professional learning platform.

Inc. magazine noted that professional business e-learning has done something that other online education platforms, such as MOOCs​, have failed to do by developing a successful business model.

“LinkedIn paid about $1.5 billion to acquire lynda.com.”

“Online corporate learning allows employees in every industry and at any level to experience the power of customized training, 24/7, on any device. Unlike with classroom-based training, learners can train on their own time using customized formats,” Inc. explained.

The value and number of useful professional e-learning services is likely going to continue growing as more companies want to get involved or acquire an educational platform as part of their other offerings, as LinkedIn did.

3. MOOCs are becoming part of traditional education 

While professional learning has come out as the success story to MOOCs’ lost potential, there may still be time for these open, free courses to become a lasting part of higher education. The New York Times recently reported that Arizona State University has decided to offer an option for students to take their freshman year courses as MOOCs.

The program, called Global Freshman Academy, will offer students the chance to take these classes without having to apply or go through the admissions process. The program will include 12 courses in a variety of general education requirements and carry credit that can be transferred to the school.

“ASU is offering MOOCs for credit.”

Although each credit will cost students $200, it marks one of the first times these open courses come with actual credits and association to a well-known university. This move may signal a shift for large schools to adopt MOOCs as part of normal schooling.

4. Publishers are adapting to e-learners

As print sales have been falling for many major publishers, their only option is to innovate and reinvent their business, Education Dive reported. These major companies will likely begin offering lower priced textbooks digitally, selling them through popular online marketplaces such as Google Play, and some may begin to include interactive coursework as well.

“The move to digital is going to happen,” Pearson Education North America Executive Director and CEO William Etheridge told Education Dive. “And while the timing may be a little bit unclear, it is going to happen. And people have been holding back for so long – they can only hold back for so long and they got to move to these new curriculum.”

Capitalizing on the growing globalization of e-learning in general, there is a great opportunity to pair the trend of innovative publishers with eager students abroad. Localization technology and translation services can help transform and create new, multilingual texts and interactive learning tools, to the benefit of students and publishers.

3 key trends in the online travel industry

In late 2014, Amazon announced it would start its own online travel service for select cities. Unlike the many other online travel businesses, Skift explained that Amazon was going after a growing and niche market: independent hotels. It could help connect people who want a one-of-a-kind stay with hotels that have a lower profile around the country.

The involvement of a company like Amazon in the travel service world is a perfect example of how quickly and significantly the online travel industry is changing all the time. Stay on top of this dynamic business by following and capitalizing on these three recent trends in online travel. 

"1 in 4 online travel businesses are already marketing internationally."

1. Increasing levels of focus on international travelers 
Online travel businesses are targeting their messages internationally more than any other industry. According to VerbalizeIt data, about 26 percent of travel and tourism companies are communicating with international clients. That's nearly double the 14 percent overall average among industries. 

While the travel industry is more focused on international business than other industries, North American companies are among the least active when it comes to international communication. Asian, European and South American businesses are already focused more on international communication than the U.S., where only 1 in 100 small businesses have an international presence. 

As the trend toward internationalization continues, this is the perfect opportunity for American online travel businesses to focus on website and app translation with an international audience in mind. 

2. Increasing focus on regionalization
​Although it sounds counterintuitive, regionalization is also becoming increasingly popular among travel businesses. While the internationalization of websites and apps casts a large net to bring in business, regionalization uses a precise and directed attack to target a specific section of consumers and clients.  

The number of travelers in China has exploded over the past several years and other regions are poised for massive growth. By 2020, about 50 million Indians are expected to travel internationally, Tourism Australia predicted. In many of these areas where growth is underway and expected to continue, people aren't searching or buying in English. 

"By 2020, about 50 million Indians are expected to travel internationally."

Regionalize your business's online communication through app translation and localization to capitalize on the untapped potential of these new users and likely travelers. Reach them in their own languages or dialects before your competitors can. 

3. Margin pressure from both upstream and downstream
With increased competition from new companies such as Amazon and unpredictable variances in business or vacation travel, many online travel agents and companies are feeling margin pressure. To address this trend, many executives may want to consider reevaluating their translation strategies.

While reaching international and regional customers is critical to a business' success, doing it in a cost-inefficient way is also important. Use professional translation services that can help your business deliver its message directly without hurting your already pinched margins. 

How to make international customer service more effective

Regardless of what your product is, the linchpin on which your business revolves is customer service. The interactions between representatives and clients can often make or break a business, especially a startup that's looking to compete in the larger market.

Customer service can be all the more important in international markets where your brand may be unproven. Just like development or translation, you shouldn't approach customer service from a one-size-fits-all perspective. Here are some things to keep in mind when devising your regional service strategies so your brand can stand out from the rest. 

"Different areas define good service in differing ways."

Define your goals regionally
Different markets can be influenced by various factors, and as a result, operations may look very different in one place than in another. This is important to take into account when determining what your service goals are going to be in a given region. Keep in mind that different areas define good service in differing ways. Some places, such as the U.S., may value expedient service and fast turnaround times above all else, while some parts of Europe and Asia pride themselves on hospitality and a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. These different goals may lead you to two conflicting strategies – for example, in trying to facilitate the fastest service, you will likely compromise on some of the superfluous amenities that may be valued by certain cultures. Rather than trying to reconcile all of these goals and offering a mediocre overall experience, instead focus your efforts where the regional market in question will appreciate it most.

Specialize, but not exclusively
It's clear that to meet the various needs and standards of different regions you'll need a team of service representatives specially trained and versed in cultural know-how to best interact with your clients. But while these specialists will form the bulk of your service efforts, don't forget to imbue your other support staff with a basic cultural understanding as well. For example, complicated customer service tickets may end up getting escalated to different departments, such as accounting or manufacturing. These professionals don't need the extensive cultural fluency of your frontline support staff, but they should be able to perform their job functions in a way that conveys competence and inspires confidence in your brand.

Do your homework
Cultural sensitivity is perhaps the most important element of customer service in international markets. In addition to business practices and industry standards from region to region, your service representatives should also be versed in the cultural and linguistic idiosyncrasies of the market in which they're operating. This can range from a grasp of colloquial dialects to better connect with local customers to knowledge of business etiquette and how to act during transactions. Excellent customer service depends on the representative's ability to connect with customers on a personal level, and displaying an affinity for local cultural habits is a subtle and effective way to do that.

"Encourage your clients to offer their feedback."

Be receptive to feedback
Nobody's perfect. It's possible – expected, even – that when you begin moving into new markets, there will be an adjustment period for your customer service representatives. For growing businesses, customer feedback is a crucial tool that can help steer future development efforts. Encourage your clients to offer their feedback, whether it's through a phone survey or email form sent out after an interaction. Of course, your representatives themselves are members of the local community and can offer you valuable insight right from within your own company. You can encourage this exchange of information by offering online resources for employees and managers to communicate, such as forums of email listservs, so that they can share best practices.