Translation for marketplaces: why it is important to have experts on hand

Translation for marketplaces has become an extremely popular service. Selling on Amazon, AliExpress or eBay is one of the best options if you want to start expanding your business internationally. However, keep in mind that a bad product description translation can spoil your brand image and your foreign customer’s experience.

In this article we want to address common translation mistakes in marketplaces. Why is it important to hire professional translation services for marketplaces rather than using machine translations for your product listings?

Translation mistakes in marketplaces

Incorrect grammatical constructions, swear words and even meaningless texts are just some of the translation blunders that we are used to.

If you use AliExpress you will have noticed that many of their products are poorly translated. Sometimes they even make us laugh. Translation errors for marketplaces are not a thing of the past.

Many businesses do not think that language is important enough when it comes to selling cross-border. However, a bad translation can greatly reduce sales, as well as the chances that a customer will buy your products again. This is no accident.

  • Failure to understand the product: no matter how interested a person is in buying a product, if they don’t really understand its features, they will never put it in their shopping basket. Trying to understand a product that is poorly translated generates an extra effort that will make them lose interest and end up choosing your competition. Make it easy for your international customer.
  • Lack of brand confidence: despite translation errors on listings, it is possible that the customer will eventually understand the product’s features. But what brand image will our future buyer take away with him? Avoid creating more frustration and offer them a good image.
  • Bad positioning: in marketplaces such as Amazon it is also important to take care of SEO. Considering the keywords will be fundamental to achieve product listings with optimal organic positioning. The needs and search intentions of your customers on Amazon UK are not necessarily the same as on Amazon Germany. Do not try to do SEO on Amazon with machine translation. It won’t do you any good.
  • Lack of persuasion: machine translations generate literal translations. Native speakers of a country will quickly realise when something is machine translated and you won’t be able to connect with them. Get them excited with professional marketplace translations. Make them fall in love with your brand.


 Amazon Sweden: why you should not rely on machine translation for marketplaces

If there’s a clear example of translation issues in marketplaces, it’s the case of Amazon in Sweden back in 2020. The online shopping giant wanted to expand its borders and landed in Northern Europe, specifically in Sweden. However, nothing went as expected.


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As customers started to log on to the platform, they began to detect a large number of translation mistakes, as well as cultural blunders. Most of them were caused by the mistranslation of polysemous English words such as “ape” or “cock”.

One of the most striking examples was when they repeatedly used the Swedish word “valdtakt“, meaning rape, instead of “raps“, meaning plant.

But that was not all, they also confused the Swedish flag with the Argentinian flag and described a silicone baking mould as “suitable for chocolate, faeces, goose water and bread”.

All of these errors were caused by Amazon’s use of a machine translation program, most likely without human review, which we call post-editing.

Relying on machine translation rather than professional translators to handle product translation cost Amazon a reputation crisis when it launched in the Scandinavian country.

Professional translation services for Marketplaces, key to selling online

It is proven that any error that the user encounters at the time of purchase reduces their chances of buying by 80%. Especially if we are talking about linguistic errors or cultural blunders.

In fact, according to a comScore study Europeans prefer to shop on platforms that are in their native language. So much so, that Amazon is clearly the main marketplace in countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy with both the native version and its local domain.

Which sections on a marketplace should I translate?

Normally, we always see product translation mistakes in marketplaces in the title of the product. However, marketplaces have many other sections where a good translation is just as important.


errores de traducción en marketplaces

Translation of bullet points

Bullet points are key in marketplace listings. They should be clear, and appeal to the consumers’ needs. Therefore, if you want to sell internationally on marketplaces, SEO translation services are often used for this type of content.

Also, if you are aware of the cultural differences between your country of origin and your target audience, you will be able to reach your potential international customers more easily. You may also want to rearrange the bullet points in your translations to meet their cultural expectations.

Translation for technical details and description

Indicate product features such as model number, colour, weight or dimensions. However, keep in mind the target country’s measurement system when translating a product’s technical details. Failure to indicate them correctly will create confusion for the customer and they may even return the product when they receive it.

Likewise, product descriptions should be well translated, bearing in mind the target audience and their culture. This is a good way to convince future customers of the need to buy your product.

Use a transcreation service to be persuasive and explain what benefits customers will get from buying from your shop.

Customer reviews translation

Customer service is key in any online shop, and this includes marketplaces. Customers often ask questions to find out more details about products.

Answer them correctly by letting a professional translation company such as Ontranslation handle review translation.


Why trust professional translators to sell on Marketplaces?

When buying products or services, you first need to connect with the brand. If this is already the case in physical shops, it is even more so in virtual ones, as we can neither touch nor try the products.

As a brand, including good photographs, videos, reviews and, above all, a correct description and bullet points in your listings will be key for the customer to choose you over your competitors on marketplaces.

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Automatic translations on AliExpress or Amazon, as on any other marketplace, will make consumers suspicious of what you are selling, and they will end up abandoning the shopping basket.

However, hiring a good translation for marketplaces will make you connect with your potential customers from other countries and transmit your brand voice correctly.

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

2 responses to “Translation for marketplaces: why it is important to have experts on hand”

  1. Reverie says:

    Nice post detailing a Translation for marketplaces: why it is important to have experts on hand
    If you’re looking to expand your global audience, you need to address the language barrier.

    • Oscar Nogueras says:

      Thanks for your comment!

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