How to Translate Your Shopify Store in 4 Easy Steps
From giant global retailers to spare bedroom side hustles, Shopify currently powers over one million ecommerce businesses. The platform makes it easy for anyone to sell online and reach potential customers around the world.
Of course, international ecommerce always comes with one major roadblock: the language barrier. While your customers could use Google Translate, they probably won’t get a great user experience.
So, what is the best way to translate your Shopify store? Here is your complete guide, from choosing your translation service to publishing multilingual content.
What Are the Benefits of Translating or Localizing Your Shopify Store?
English is usually cited as the universal language of the internet. However, there are 4.75 billion people online today and only around a quarter of them speak English.
When you consider that 55% of consumers say they won’t make purchases in a foreign language, it becomes pretty obvious why you might want to translate your Shopify store. From product pages to checkout, people want to know exactly where their money is going.
Aside from the user experience, optimizing your store for different languages has additional benefits.
For example, your SEO performance will improve drastically in foreign markets if you provide content in the native language. Where possible, search engines always deliver results that the user can truly understand.
Localization is broader than straightforward translation. It takes into account cultural differences, meaning the end user feels like they are shopping in a local online store. This can only help with earning the trust of potential customers.
How to Translate Any Shopify Ecommerce Website in 4 Steps
Building an ecommerce website with Shopify is very easy. There are countless tutorial videos on the topic, showing you how to set up a store in minutes.
However, making your Shopify site multilingual is a different challenge. While the exact process will vary according to the tools you use, here is what the roadmap will probably look like:
1) Prepare and Import Content for Translation
The first step in translating your online store is exporting your content and uploading it to your chosen translation platform.
Shopify actually makes this quite straightforward. All you need to do is navigate to Settings > Export, and choose your native language.
If you are translating your store for the first time, select All content to include everything. If you have translated some of your site before, you can choose Outdated or Untranslated content to select only the relevant parts.
Finally, select Export to download the CSV file.
Be aware that the text for checkout and email notifications is not included in this file.
While Shopify does provide default translations, you will need to visit Settings > Notifications in order to extract content for your own translation process. Simply click the notification you want to edit and then hit Translate to access the text.
One other challenge is presented by third-party apps and themes. Some offer multilingual support, but not all by any means. Depending on the apps you want to work with, you may have to find your own export solution or switch to a different app.
2) Translation and Review
The next step in this process is translation.
For reasons of cost and time, you may be tempted to auto-translate your store content. But this is generally a false economy in ecommerce.
Why? Because machine translation needs human oversight to be completely accurate. And automatic translations that don’t hit the mark will do nothing to build trust with potential customers. If anything, they will make you seem unprofessional.
So, you need a language service provider, or LSP, that offers professional translation.
We would also recommend choosing a company with experience of website and ecommerce translation. Such projects require a subtly different skill set from those needed for translating legal contracts and medical documents, for example.
With OneSky, you can order professional translation directly through our platform. We have over 1,000 experts with experience of website translation, covering over 50 languages. You can also see the exact cost per word and estimated delivery time for each translation batch.
Providing Resources for Your Translators
Professional translators are very good at delivering an accurate representation of your content in a different language.
But if you want to guarantee that your message gets through, it’s a good idea to provide your translators with some extra context and information.
For example, the exact meaning of product descriptions might not be entirely clear without images of the product. This particularly applies when you are selling a product that is specific to a niche.
To help you overcome this problem, some translation management platforms allow you to upload screenshots. Some even have a built-in glossary function, so you can add industry-specific terms for your translators to reference. You can find this feature in OneSky, for instance.
Under all circumstances, it is regarded as good practice to add comments to your content, in order to provide context.
Reviewing Your Content
Just as with content creation in your native language, it’s a good idea to have someone review your translated store content. With OneSky, you can add a review when you order your translation.
While it is possible to run quality assurance checks yourself, professional eyes are more likely to spot the problems. If anything crops up, you can edit translations before the mistakes go live on your multilingual store.
3) Implement Your Translations
After the review process is complete, most translation management systems will return your content in the same format as you uploaded it. In the case of store content, this is likely to be CSV.
Shopify makes it pretty easy to integrate your translations. Under Settings > Languages, you just choose the languages you want to add, and upload your CSV file.
Note that this option is available on Shopify Lite. On the Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, you can add up to five languages. Shopify Plus allows you to sell in 20 different languages.
For checkout and email notifications, revisit Settings > Notifications, choose individual notifications to translate, and choose the Translate option. Once you have pasted in your new version, hit Save to complete the process.
Multilingual SEO and Subdomains
As we mentioned previously, improved SEO is one of the many benefits associated with translating your online store.
To help you make the most of the upgrade, Shopify provides the option to host each language on its own subdomain. Note that you will need to be on the Shopify, Advanced Shopify, or the Shopify Plus plan to access this feature.
The platform also adds meta tags and hreflang tags, and includes all languages in your sitemap. This helps search engines to navigate your translated content, leading to better search rankings.
Choosing a Multilingual Shopify Theme
Most popular Shopify themes are capable of running multiple store languages. However, it’s still worth checking that your theme has this feature before you dive into translation.
Whichever theme you choose, consider either enabling or adding a language switcher or selector. This feature will allow customers to choose the language they feel most comfortable with, regardless of their current location.
Perhaps the easiest way to handle this is through langify.
This third-party app adds a language switcher, and it can auto-detect the user language of any device. As it happens, langify also provides a nice dashboard for exporting store content and importing translations.
4) Test and Publish Your Content
The final stage of any translation process is testing and publishing.
Converting any entire online store from one language to another is a significant project. Just as with design and development, the change of content can break a few things on your multi-language website.
The most common examples include buttons and layouts, where a different number of characters changes elements of the interface. Alternatively, you might uncover issues with links.
Obviously, you don’t want these bugs on your live site. The last thing any business needs is a malfunctioning checkout page.
The solution is to run tests. You can either check through every page yourself, or hire a specialist. With OneSky, you can order on-device testing directly through our platform.
How to Choose a Translation Service for Shopify
So, there we have it — a blueprint for multilingual success. All that’s missing is your translation solution.
Choosing your LSP (language service provider) is one of the most important steps in this whole process. After all, you are relying on them to provide accurate translations of your entire website. In some cases, your choice will also determine the complexity of the translation process.
When you come to make your choice, here are some of the key points to bear in mind:
Types of Translation
Language translation can basically be split into two types: machine translation and professional translation.
The former is useful for quickly creating placeholder translations. The latter should provide a better quality of translation, suitable for going live.
When you select your LSP, make sure that they cover the type of translation you want.
Website translation is a specialist skill. Ecommerce is even more niche.
When choosing your LSP, make sure they have translators who understand what web content should look like. If they know SEO, even better!
Usability and Compatibility
Every LSP uses some form of translation management system, or TMS. Much like Shopify itself, this platform will be the central control panel for all your translations.
If you are running a business, it all comes down to money in the end.
LSPs vary enormously in terms of pricing. This can partly be explained by the difference between automatic and professional translation. In other cases, it’s about specialist knowledge or just a premium brand.
You don’t need to break the bank for good service, but taking the absolute cheapest translation solution is unlikely to be a good investment.
OneSky: The Best Shopify Translation Solution
When you have to make a big decision like this, it’s always good to get some recommendations from others you trust.
So, who does Shopify use for their own translation projects? The answer is OneSky.
Our end-to-end platform works perfectly with Shopify sites, providing full support for CSV import and export. You can order machine and professional translation with a couple of clicks, starting from $0.04 per word.
Sign up free today to see just how easy it can be to translate and localize your Shopify store.