The E-Commerce Disruption Series: How Lionbridge Helps a Leading German Luxury Fashion Retailer Reach its Online Global Buyers

And why efficient, high quality translations of product descriptions (SKUs) are essential for global e-commerce

This is the fifth piece in the Lionbridge E-Commerce Disruption Series, which explores changes in the e-commerce space as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When one of the world’s leading online retailers for luxury fashion first engaged Lionbridge to translate product descriptions (SKUs) and category pages for their online store four years ago, the business landscape was more predictable. Flash-forward to the year 2020 and luxury retailers find themselves facing numerous challenges as a result of COVID-19.

The pandemic has generally hurt the luxury apparel sector’s bottom line in recent months as a result of store closures and impeded travel. However, market changes have opened new opportunities for luxury retailers to bounce back and bolster revenues. GlobalWebIndex, a marketing research company, has found that luxury brands are responding to the pandemic by increasing their online presence. The firm suggests that an omnichannel sales approach will continue to be an important strategy after the pandemic is over.

Lionbridge can help luxury retailers go global to maximize their reach.

Lionbridge has helped forward-thinking, iconic global fashion brands implement worldwide translations for their online stores for the last decade. With its retail center of excellence, Lionbridge crafts compelling local content in every language to enable luxury retailers deliver an exceptional customer experience anywhere. Lionbridge’s work with a major German luxury fashion retailer involves high volumes, quick turnaround times and rigorous quality.

“We have experience being able to identify the right tone of specific brands in this space,” says Colm Connolly, Lionbridge Global Program Director Operations. “The nuances and the polish required for the translation of luxury fashion is much higher than your standard translations.”

We spoke with the account team, Frank Kubicki (Account Executive), Colm Connolly and Barbara Thompson (Project Managers), to share more about Lionbridge’s engagement with the German luxury fashion retailer and to tell us what it takes to provide excellent service for this sector.

Q: How does Lionbridge support the German luxury fashion retailer’s organic growth strategy?

Since partnering with this retailer, we’ve helped them expand their womenswear and kids wear offerings into three markets and their menswear line into seven markets.

We’ve supported their growth through the translation and transcreation of product descriptions (SKUs) and category pages. Transcreation goes a step beyond translation. It’s when a message is adapted from its original language and made culturally relevant to its new target audience.

Now, we translate up to 1,000 product descriptions (SKUs) per week. Depending on the line, we translate into Chinese, Korean, Latin American Spanish, French, Italian, German and Arabic. As part of our work with the retailer’s category pages, we inject previously researched keywords into the copy to help with their search engine optimization.

Our work enables our partner to build connections with their customers. It has been gratifying to help them grow.

Q: What does the fashion retailer need in order to deliver a great customer experience?

Quality is of the utmost importance for our German client and all luxury brands. These upscale brands are known for their exceptional in-store shopping experiences and they need to replicate this feel during the customer’s online visit.

Our client doesn’t just sell a dress. They sell glamour and style. It’s up to us to understand what the brand needs to convey and capture the tone in our product descriptions. Meticulous, compelling translations are important to uphold the brand’s overall high standards and deliver the top-notch experience their customers seek. Our translations help the retailer strengthen their relationship with their customers and persuade consumers to buy their products.

Q: What is the client’s biggest translation challenge and how do you help them overcome it?

Time constraints are a major challenge. The client must move fast because sales are driven by the speed at which they can bring their products to global markets. They need to have up to 5,000 words translated per day within 22 hours, which is not an easy feat. In addition, the number of product descriptions that need to be translated varies each day, which further complicates the process.

We keep pace with their needs by pre-booking linguists based on expected volumes and by leveraging technology.

Q: How do you leverage technology?

Technology is critical to deliver speed and efficiency. We’ve created a highly automated workflow in the translation management system (TMS).

Among our efforts, we have:

  • Developed a universal file connector (UFC) to integrate with the retailer’s systems
  • Added functionality in the UFC to alert the retailer if the files are not sent on time
  • Introduced a split file function to make it easier to assign work to multiple linguists

By eliminating repetitive and time-consuming manual steps, we’re able to increase the translation output.

Q: What did you do to ensure the engagement would be successful?

We put a lot of effort into upfront onboarding to set ourselves up for success.

At the start of the engagement, we spent two full days with the client to really understand their pain points and requirements. We continued to collaborate with them closely.

Together, we created accurate style guides and glossaries. We qualified translators with high-end fashion experience to make sure they met our client’s expectations. We conducted several test runs before doing any work that actually appeared on their site.

When it was time to start translations, we were fully prepared.

Q: How did Lionbridge’s experience make an impact with this client?

Our extensive experience was critical because we were able to anticipate and prevent problems that were likely to arise during the translation process. For instance, we proactively addressed sizing and colors.

Sizing varies across the globe, which makes translations complex. We addressed this issue by using a size conversion table and adhering to a process that ensures local markets will see the correct sizes.

Color presents challenges because there are nuances that must be addressed during translation. We focused on this issue by making sure translators had access to the glossaries we created with the client.

What Type of Work Does Lionbridge Do For Other Luxury Retailers?

While the team provided insight into the work Lionbridge does for the German fashion retailer, Lionbridge also partners with a variety of luxury brands based throughout the world. In addition to the translation of product descriptions and category pages, Lionbridge translates, transcreates and creates materials for marketing campaigns, including emails and brochures.

What Can Luxury Retailers Learn From COVID-19?

Once stores closed, luxury retailers’ only source of income was through online sales. The pandemic has highlighted the benefit of having a streamlined online presence. Luxury retailers that were ready to conduct global online sales efficiently and at scale were at an advantage. But it’s not too late for retailers to obtain benefits even if they are just starting their digital journey.

Lionbridge can help luxury retailers expand their reach and resonate with their discerning customers no matter where they reside and what language they speak.

Explore Our E-Commerce Disruption Series

To further explore our E-Commerce Disruption Series, you may be interested in reading the following blogs:

Get in touch

Interested in seeing how Lionbridge can help your luxury brands have a global online reach? Reach out to us.

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Janette Mandell
Janette Mandell