E-commerce is burgeoning at a phenomenal pace in India. Amazon, which launched its India operations in June 2013, says that at current scale and rate, India is well set to become the fastest country ever to reach $1 billion in gross sales. This claim is backed by Forrester’s Asia Pacific Online Retail Forecast for 2013 to 2018, which says that the number of online buyers in India will reach 39 million by the end of 2014 and 128 million by the end of 2018. And guess where these buyers would come from? From tier two and tier three cities.

These statistics assume greater significance when viewed in light of the findings from market research firm Common Sense Advisory, which says that more than half of online buyers only shop from websites that provides information in the consumer’s native language.

Companies planning to venture into India’s eCommerce space, need to read between the lines of these findings. Yes, India is an English speaking country, but it would be suicidal to assume that an English website can bring success right away. India’s English speaking population is strictly confined to the cities and that’s not where tomorrow’s money lies.

To rake in the moo-la, companies need to penetrate deeper and target customers in two tier cities; ones who are not well-versed in English. So, the mantra to success lies in localizing the website. Given that the English speaking population is more comfortable with English websites, retaining them while trying to win over others, can be a tight rope walk for these companies. This brings us to the important question: Should you localize everything in the website?

In the Indian context, there is no need for this, because the country’s computer literate population have an elementary understanding of the language. In fact, half of those surveyed by the market research firm said that they prefer at least some content and navigation element to appear in their languages. This means, localizing some aspects of the eCommerce offerings can go a long way to make websites more user friendly to people residing in two and three tier cities of the country.

While localizing, top priority needs to be given to the following:

  • Translating / localizing salient features of the content
  • Localizing products and offers
  • Localizing delivery and return policies
  • Displaying currency in familiar denominations
  • Setting the right prices
  • Clarify payment methods

To do all these right, you need the assistance of vendors familiar with the business model in India. So outsourcing your website localization task to India can help you get the most of your localization efforts. However, you need to choose your vendor carefully. When you outsource to India, make sure you do it to someone who has the technical experience and expertise needed to handle all your eCommerce requirements.