When Should You Translate Your Website Into Chinese?

Is it the right time to translate your website into Chinese? Did you know 51.7% of China’s total population are already on the internet? According to CNNIC, there are 710 million users and 92.5% of them are using their smartphones when surfing the internet. In tier 1 cities, 81% of the population shop online.

The opportunities are limitless in different industries, yet entrepreneurs who have done the groundwork in Greater China said it’s challenging to thrive in the cutthroat competition, and it requires patience and hard work. Some it would take years to achieve a breakeven; others are in luck to hit overnight success, but that is a rare case.
Translation and Localization: the starting point of the journey

But despite China (and also Asia’s) fluctuating economy, it’s an attractive market for overseas companies. From food and beverage to retail, fashion to internet (e.g. on-demand services) platforms, travel, and tourism to biotechnology. Starbucks, McDonald’s, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Coca-Cola and among others are building their empires.

It’s easy for deep-pocketed companies to build a business because of the resources and money. For small and medium-sized companies, cost, labor, and constant changes of policies are barriers to entry. But the internet can be utilized to soft launch activities through website translation, localization and multimedia services.

Not only it’s cost-efficient compared with setting up a physical store and doing the groundwork, but you can scale your business and test the waters. So how will you know if it’s the right time to translate your website? If you see any of these signs, watch out. You need to look for professional translators to work on your website and marketing campaigns.
1. There’s a growing demand in your industry (and growth is constant)

For example, Chinese investors prefer buying properties overseas because the housing is government-run and controlled. The land belongs to the government, and all properties are all lease-held for 70 years via a land grant between the state and the citizen. When it expires, there’s uncertainty to the ownership and everything depends on the incumbent policies.

Renewed grants gain very high rates and buying properties outside of China is rather preferred for their investments. The Guardian said there’s a huge surge in Chinese buying of both residential and commercial real estate last year took their five-year investment total to more than $110bn according to Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group’s study.

Aside from their property-spree shopping in North America, they also buy properties in Europe and Australia. It’s not a surprising that real estate company like Ray White signed a deal with China’s Lianja, the largest real estate agency where the latter will co-list the former’s properties in New Zealand and Australian in Mandarin on its websites.
2. Huge influx of Chinese online shoppers on your e-commerce website

Next, if 50-70% of your website visitors come from China, then translating and localizing your e-commerce website can be your next step. If online shopping is your turf and you’re selling premium products that affluent and middle-class Chinese shoppers demand, go for it. While the Chinese economy is uncertain, according to WeForum, three great forces are changing the consumer market.

“Three great forces are ushering in this transformation: the rise of upper-middle-class and affluent households as the drivers of consumption growth; a new generation of freer-spending, sophisticated consumers; and the increasingly powerful role of e-commerce,” Youchi Kuo, Principal at Boston Consulting Group in Hong Kong wrote.

Chinese consumers prefer to buy overseas via Haitao; it’s the western version of Taobao, the biggest B2C e-commerce platform. They would spend money on imported products – food, luxury items, fashion, cosmetics, supplements and among others. They’d rather pay for premium products in exchange for quality, food security and also their health.

Australia’s Stahmann Farm, a seller of raw packaged nuts, France’s La Redoute, one of the largest fashion retailer online and New York’s Briggs & Riley, the premium seller of luggage and bags are some of the companies that have translated and localized their online shopping platforms to expand their services in Greater China.
3. You have a unique product proposition but would like to start small and scale later

It can be overwhelming to start a business, especially if you have a limited budget, yet you believe your product or service has a unique proposition. Doing the groundwork in greater China can cause you headaches with all the paper works; and unfortunately, government policies – in various cities and counties – change often. Language, culture, high rental and operating expenses and other barriers to entry such as competition and piracy; they can affect the initial stage of your business.

One of the greatest challenges of startups and SMEs is the competition against the homegrown companies that are typically supported by the government, whether in the form policies, funding, and among others. Frankly, the uniqueness of your product/service will be copied soon by the local companies, and they would even do it better and localized it and make it more relevant to your targeted customers (e.g. Learn from Uber’s story).

As mentioned above, companies with lots of money and funding can perhaps thrive for many years, but two things that most foreign brands, whether big or small, often neglect and skip is doing the homework and starting small such as by translating and localizing the brand – from website to products to services. If you’re in the e-commerce sector, then you may want to read more of China Briefing’s Selling to China Without a Physical Presence.

Let us know if you think you’re ready to translate your website or if you need consultation services.