The importance of “localising” your website
It is important that companies wishing to expand overseas localise their website so it is to the taste of their Chinese customers. But what does this mean for you, and what will it involve? There are several key features that need to be addressed in localising your company’s website. In our checklist of what makes an effective China website, we can look at Starbucks and compare the Chinese and Australian versions of their site.
1. Can your customers understand your website?
It may sound obvious, but many companies forget to correctly translate their websites when they market overseas. Translation isn’t just a matter of putting words through Google Translate – it’s a matter of using words familiar to the people you are selling to, and making them feel at ease in doing business with you. Starbucks’s China website has both Chinese and English functions – the Chinese for obvious reasons, and the English so that the customers do not forget they are doing business with a foreign company.
The Chinese version has been localised so it reads as though it has been written by a local – and this allows their customers to fully understand what Starbucks has to offer. On top of this, marketing messages come through more accurately and can be tweaked to better appeal to the local audience in using an effectively translated Chinese website.
source 2. Do your products appeal to Chinese customers?
In acknowledging both the significance of tea to China’s drinking culture and China’s different eating habits, Starbucks have launched a green tea late for their Chinese customers, and added a black sesame green tea roll to their eating menu. They also make seasonal changes to their menu to appeal to local tastes. So while in Australia we may be offered mint flavoured hot chocolates in the winter, the Chinese may be offered moon-cakes during the Mid-autumn festival. While it is not always necessary for you to launch a new product line, altering your products or services so as to suit local tastes and displaying these in your website can definitely be to your advantage, and encourage further exploration into your products and services
http://camppearl.com/partners-of-pearl/ 3. Do the colours and imagery appeal to local tastes?
The Starbucks’ Chinese language website incorporates a lot of simple imagery and has a much more simplified colour scheme when compared to the Australian website. This may be because coffee is a much newer and foreign concept to the Chinese, who traditionally offer a tea-drinking culture. For many Chinese citizens, Starbucks is the first contact they have had with coffee and as such their website is laid out simply and clearly.
4. Can your Chinese customers interact with you?
While having 30,000 likes on your Facebook page may appeal to Australian customers, it won’t rally much interest among your Chinese customers who cannot access Facebook in China! It is therefore important that you reach out to local customers both in their language on their own social media platforms. Starbucks have a fully integrated Chinese website, with a presence on Chinese social media platforms including Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), QQ (the Chinese MSN) and Renren Wang (the Chinese Facebook). Having a Chinese social media presence enables Chinese customers to interact with foreign companies and engage in their digital marketing campaigns – and this is a big market when you consider that there are over 300,000 users on Weibo!
…these are just a few ways you can tweak your site to achieve maximum impact in the China market. We would love your feedback and suggestions on other ways website owners can improve their sites to appeal to the China market.