Translation in Retail: High Volume, Short Turnaround

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Being a global-ready retailer often means high volume and short turnaround—factors that also drive cost and quality. It’s hard enough to deliver packaging, brochures, signage, and point-of-sale materials in the original language for hundreds of products per month, let alone deliver quality translations on time, within budget. With that in mind, here’s a little insight into how translation in retail differs from other industries, along with how to identify areas of improvement in your own translation processes:

Turn up the volume

As a retailer, you are required to get several materials in front of your customers multiple times a year. The advantage is that, from e-commerce sites to employee forms and training materials, your content consists of text that remains relevant over time and across product lines. These are ideal attributes for translation technologies.

Set your priorities straight

Just as with any competitive industry, reasonable pricing and short turnaround are highly valued. As a retailer new to translation, it’s tempting to focus on the nitty gritty like price per word, but any experienced translation manager will tell you that low prices impede technology advances, expertise, and the quality that can benefit them.

Confidentiality is also imperative, as retailers want to ensure that any information about the products they offer, pricing on point-of-sale signage and promotional materials, and the extent of their international efforts stay isolated from competitors.

Get the upper hand

Some countries enforce laws that require consumer- and employee-facing information to be presented in local languages. For example, in Québec, companies with more than 100 employees are required to offer workplace-related materials in both English and French.

Even if these types of laws don’t apply to your own turf, as it pertains to your business, translation is also a market advantage. Only 19 percent of organizations can support non-primary language customers and 86 percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience—meaning, whether legally required or not, there is an opportunity to earn international brand loyalty by having materials available in local languages.

Watch your language

In some regions, consumer protection laws make retailers responsible for the accuracy of their translations. But who has time to micro-manage every translated product in stores?

Instead, managers may choose to dictate the ways in which suppliers provide translated packaging and instructions. However, this can cause business terms to change when a supplier needs to switch language service providers for customer-facing materials or translate differently from one channel to the next. A slippery slope, this can make suppliers choose lower pricing over quality.

So how do these managers keep a watchful eye on translation quality? Given that retail is most notable for its competitive pressure, confidentiality, high volume of small projects, and short turnaround time, it’s not uncommon for retailers to have difficulty formalizing translation as a normal business function. It’s also difficult for them to improve their processes without making a few mistakes first.

The good news: Technology can be a huge benefit to retailers no matter their experience level. In our new whitepaper, we outline some of the technologies and tools needed at each stage of translation growth, as well as the Lionbridge translation model custom-built for retail. Get your copy here.

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