The technical implementation of internationalization in e-commerce: what is the best way to go about it? In the second part of our article on the versatile content management system WordPress, we concentrate on e-commerce and the implementation of comprehensive, professional translations in WordPress. We also answer the question of how suitable WordPress is for multilingual e-commerce projects.
Let us now take a look at our actual topic, e-commerce. There are many ways to use WordPress for the purposes of e-commerce, the most successful by far being WooCommerce:
Alex Frison: WooCommerce is a plugin based on WordPress. Installation is really simple and the functions are extensive, even in the basic version. WooCommerce is developing at a rapid rate, with a new version coming our every 3-6 months. As already mentioned, the market share now amounts to just over 40% worldwide. Adaptations are still necessary to ensure that, from a technical point of view at least, the online shop meets all of the legal requirements of the German market. Two easy-to-install and easy-to-customize plugins address this issue: WooCommerce German Market (paid) and Germanized (free basic version).
But can a CMS with just a few plugins really keep pace with dedicated shop solutions?
Alex Frison: Yes. We have now implemented a number of large shops with very large order volumes and connections to third-party systems, such as SAP. The major advantage of WordPress is its expandability. There are no limits to its functionality, with many functions coming in the form of simple plugins (the community is very large). Functions that aren’t available as plugins can be developed. That’s what we’re here for! Other shop systems may have more out-of-the-box functions, but the implementation of additional functions isn’t always possible, can be overly complicated, and some of the functions simply don’t exist yet.The question we are really trying to answer is: How well prepared are the various shop systems for internationalization? We know that WordPress can be made multilingual with the right plugins. We also know that it can be used to operate a serious online shop. But can it do both? The answer is: yes and no. Because just as with the media management issue, there is the problem that each language version represents its own site and these sites have to be coordinated with one another. The German shop isn’t aware of customers placing orders in the English shop. And if a certain product is sold in the German shop, the English shop isn’t aware of this and will show the product as fully stocked. When it comes to media management, this disadvantage may be offset by several advantages, but the issue is a lot more complicated for stock keeping, customer management and order management. As a result, a multilingual shop based on WordPress almost inevitably needs a system in the background that takes care of these tasks centrally.
Alex Frison: With our large Woocommerce projects, a merchandise management system is usually connected in the background. Stock keeping, customer management and order management are handled centrally in one place, no matter how many sites are present in the multisite. However, many users do not need a central reference point, as they have separate stock for each country, no stock at all or digital goods only. The same applies to the customer base, which is sometimes separated deliberately. We often see cases where this separation is seen as desirable rather than a disadvantage.
Let’s summarize: In order to construct a multilingual online shop, WordPress requires not only the basic installation, but also a plugin that adds multilingualism, one that provides the shop functionality, and possibly a merchandise management system in the background to manage central tasks. Critics will argue that this sounds like anything but a perfect technical basis for an online shop.
Alex Frison: The target group is very diverse; from small shops with home-made pieces to companies with turnover in the millions, who want to design a very individual shop.
With WordPress, the subject of translation has to be dealt with on a very individual basis. WordPress itself has been translated into almost all languages, and language files are available for most plugins and themes. Those not available can be translated using free tools like Poedit, or plugins like Loco Translate to edit texts directly in the backend. The CMS texts in WordPress can be edited and of course translated in the backend. When it comes to texts that are to be given to a translation service provider, there are various options available. The classic copy & paste method is only suitable for small amounts of text. A direct export makes more sense when there is a lot of content involved, because it reduces not only the workload but also the potential for errors. Inpsyde has developed the translationMANAGER for WordPress plugin for this purpose. It allows the user to select and export sites, posts and custom post types, and then reimport them after translation.
Alex Frison: The translationMANAGER is a direct link to Eurotext that saves the user the effort of having to manually export and import data. It also means that when content is updated in a language it can be sent straight to Eurotext without the need for a time-consuming revision workflow. All in all, the translationMANAGER saves the user a great deal of time.
Alex Frison: No, multilingualism does not feature in future plans. A few years ago, a fundamental decision was made: WordPress should remain lean and mean. The call for multilingualism is very loud, but the vast majority of WordPress users do not need multilingualism and there are already plugins for it. So why install a function that the vast majority of users will never use?
Let us try to draw a conclusion: How suitable is WordPress for multilingual websites and shops? What advantages does it offer? What disadvantages are there to be reckoned with?
Alex Frison: The fact that multilingualism is not standard with WordPress could be considered a disadvantage. But as already mentioned, there are solutions that convert WordPress into a fully fledged multilingual website.
Plugin solutions are constantly under development and are becoming simpler and more comprehensive. Apart from the previously mentioned media library issue, I do not see any disadvantages to our solution. MultilingualPress does pose a few disadvantages for e-commerce, but we will be tackling those this year with new developments. There is, for example, the lack of synchronization of stocks and users between languages. However, we usually deal with this by using an ERP or other third-party system. And no article synchronization, which is usually irrelevant for different languages anyway. Aside from that there are only advantages.
We would like to thank Alex Frison from Inpsyde for taking the time to talk to us and for providing us with so many interesting insights.
Last edited: March 9, 2018
We explain how internationalization works, provide tips for your translation projects and outline some of the technology and processes used. We also report on current e-commerce developments and cover a range of language-related topics.
The idea of our “How does internationalization work with…” series is to take a closer look at shop systems and examine their potential for internationalization. But today we are going to make an exception and explore the Content Management System (CMS) WordPress. The reasons for this are two-fold: Firstly, free-to-use WordPress is the world’s most prominent CMS with a gigantic market share of almost 60% (as of 2017). Secondly, it is one of the most versatile systems and can be transformed into a fully fledged online shop with little effort, using plugins such as WooCommerce. Alex Frison kindly agreed to discuss the topic with us. As COO and co-owner of Inpsyde, he is THE expert for WordPress, especially when it comes to multilingualism and online shop functionality. (more…)
The technical implementation of internationalization in e-commerce: what is the best way to go about it? In the second part of our article on the shop software Magento, we focus on the problems that can arise when working with Magento and how to avoid some of the pitfalls. We also answer the question of how suitable Magento is for multilingual e-commerce projects.
The technical implementation of internationalization in e-commerce: What is the best way to go about it? What possibilities do the various shop and content management systems have to offer when it comes to organizing content and products in multiple languages? And what are the potential pitfalls?
In the first part of this series we are focusing on Magento. This shop system is aimed primarily at medium to large-sized companies and enjoys widespread distribution thanks to its free software and highly dedicated community. Magento expert Rico Neitzel from Büro 71a kindly agreed to discuss the shop system with us. Having worked as a developer and adviser in the Magento scene since 2006, he has a wealth of experience and background knowledge to share. In this article we discuss both the benefits and the drawbacks of Magento-based shop solutions.