This is a guest post by Natasha Drewnicki. Natasha is a Marketing Copywriter at Ellipsis Marketing, a marketing agency for WordPress businesses.
Just over a quarter of the internet communicates in English, which means that almost 75% of online users are communicating – and buying – in other languages. So, if your site is still only in English, you could be leaving money on the table.
In this post we’ll discuss why more and more WooCommerce shops are using WooCommerce multilingual plugins to expand their reach and scale into new markets, and why it could be a practical option for your own business.
We’ll explore options for translating your WooCommerce store, take a look at some of the most popular WordPress multi-language plugins on the market today, and talk about how to choose the best language for your business. We’ll also run through a multilingual WooCommerce plugin installation to get you up and running in no time.
Why should you add a multilingual WooCommerce plugin?
Let’s first look at three really good reasons why you should add a multilingual WooCommerce plugin. These reasons come from different angles, but all can be boiled down to a single concept: making your WooCommerce store multilingual can increase your sales.
Here are three angles for you to consider:
1. Reach new audiences
Say your marketing efforts are reaching a wide audience across the US, but engagement isn’t as good as it could be. You perform a site audit using Google Analytics, and it turns out a large proportion of site visitors are browsing in Spanish, but leave almost as soon as they get onto your site. This could well be because of the inconvenience of browsing in their second language.
To engage and convert these site visitors, you should consider translating your site (including documentation) into their first language.
Likewise, if market research points towards selling your product in Germany, then it would make sense to translate your site into German. We’ll look at this more closely later.
2. Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Multilingual SEO can be a huge win for your site, bringing in dramatically more search clicks.
The population searching for products or services increases dramatically when locally-based URLs show up in the search results. You can research market potential using a tool like Google Market Finder, which can give you a rough idea of audience sizes in different markets.
Not only can International SEO increase your audience base and site domain authority (leading to higher site rankings), it can dramatically increase visibility of your site. And yes – more site traffic can lead to higher conversions and more money in your pocket.
3. Drive more sales
One of the questions we hear time and time again by WooCommerce store owners is how to find an efficient way to increase traffic to their store. Successfully expanding your reach as an WooCommerce store today presents its own challenges; like the cultural needs which accompany your new markets.
Adding multilingual capabilities to WooCommerce is a relatively simple and remarkably effective way to increase your sales for relatively little work. There are few other ways of dramatically increasing market opportunities for your WooCommerce store with such little effort.
The challenges of multilingual WooCommerce
Like most new processes, there are some risks and challenges to consider before going multilingual on WooCommerce. Here are a few:
- If your product is highly technical, then translations can both take longer and cost more. You’ll also need to translate all your online documentation, so if your product is heavy on documentation, the initial cost may be higher.
- You may also need to provide customer support in the languages you are translating to, which can be outsourced easily using sites like upwork.com, for example.
- Whether you’re selling from your own inventory or dropshipping, you’ll need to make sure you can ship to the countries where your new chosen language is spoken, so make sure you’re on top of shipping timeframes, costs and any customs charges incurred.
While these setbacks are by no means insurmountable, it’s important to make sure that they’re adequately addressed and solutions are put in place before translating your site or choosing a multilingual WooCommerce plugin.
How do you get started making a multilingual WooCommerce store?
Now that you’re clear on the ins-and-outs of why you should add a multilingual WordPress plugin, let’s move on to how you can get translation functionality added to your WooCommerce store in practice.
Choose your plugin
We’ll assume that you already have a WooCommerce store set up, so skip to the first step: choosing an appropriate multilingual WordPress plugin.
There are several approaches to this. You could add a WooCommerce installation for each language – which is maintenance heavy, and not recommended! – or use a multilingual WooCommerce plugin for automated translations (a cleaner, faster, and less work-intensive solution).
Among the various plugins available to make WooCommerce multi-language, let’s check out two popular options and how they could benefit your site.
Weglot Multilingual WooCommerce Plugin
Weglot is one of the highest-rated multilingual WooCommerce plugin tools on WordPress. It supports over 100 languages, with new languages added frequently. Weglot stands out as it offers automatic translations with human editing (either do this yourself or pay-per-word for a professional), making for an extremely efficient translation setup.
You also get everything translated at the page-level, so Weglot will work with any WordPress theme – including popular WooCommerce themes like Storefront – and all WooCommerce-specific pages are automatically translated for you. Any extra posts, pages, custom post types, custom taxonomies, custom fields, and so on, will be translated too.
You also get automatic compatibility with all WooCommerce extensions and other WordPress plugins.
International SEO is a major reason to opt multilingual WooCommerce, and Weglot has you covered here, too. Each language you translate to sits on an automatically generated subdirectory – for example
/fr/ – and a language button is added to the page, with hreflang tags added to the
You can choose from 100+ languages, with more added all the time. Weglot offers various tiers depending on your traffic, and the quantity of words and languages you need. The free tier adds one language, and 2,000 translated words, and you can go all the way up to unlimited languages, and 5,000,000 translated words. There’s also a free trial period where you can try out Weglot whilst you get started.
Weglot is a great option for multilingual WooCommerce. You can make a start with the free WordPress plugin here.
WPML WordPress Multilingual Plugin
WPML is one of the oldest multilingual WordPress plugins, and today you’ll find it on a lot of sites. You get support for 40 languages built-in, but will need to translate content manually. As with Weglot, you can connect to professional translators or do it yourself. However, you don’t get the efficiency of having the basic translations taken care of for you.
WPML offers online translation management and also integrates with tools such as Poedit, a desktop translation app, to provide its translations. These tools both generate .po and .mo translation files which contain your translated text strings. You can use these to enter your translations, or have a professional do them for you. These are then applied at the site-level, which requires your theme or plugins to specifically set compatibility with WPML.
WooCommerce is one such plugin which requires compatibility with WPML. This is provided through a free separate plugin, which adds compatibility for WooCommerce products and a handful of popular extensions. You’ll get good SEO integration for international SEO, including compatibility with Yoast’s SEO plugin.
WPML is available for a fixed annual price, depending on your feature requirements. As you’re hosting the translations yourself the tiers only add features, and not word or visit restrictions – but then you’re responsible for maintenance and compatibility over time, and there’s no free trial.
Both of these plugins are popular and you should look at them both in detail before proceeding. However, for the automatic compatibility with WooCommerce extensions and automatic translations, we’ll be using Weglot as our example for the rest of this multilingual WooCommerce guide.
A real-time multilingual WooCommerce example using Weglot
Head to your WordPress Dashboard, and then go to Plugins → Add New. Search for Weglot, then Install → Activate. Click Settings, and follow the prompt to create an account, which you’ll need to do the automatic translations.
Set the original language, and leave the destination language blank for now. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
Choosing your first destination language requires a little creative thinking! You may already have a first language in mind, but if not here are some considerations to have in mind:
- Location and language data on Google Analytics: Let’s say you already have international marketing efforts in place in English, but your Google Analytics language and location data reveals that a large proportion of visitors (who aren’t converting) are already browsing in, say, Spanish or French. Those site visitors and customers could be crying out for a translated site.
- Location of customer purchases: You could also base your language(s) choice on existing customer purchases. For example, you might already ship to Germany and see a potential to scale your business in this market. Now is the time to create a multilingual WordPress site to push for greater sales there.
- SEO potential: A keyword-finder tool could reveal high search volume for your product-specific keywords in specific countries and geographical areas you might not have considered before. We often use kwfinder.com to check this.
Your store needs to remain professional and a trusted place to buy from, so use Weglot’s automatic translations as a start, on a language-by-language basis, and we’d then recommend getting these checked by a professional to ensure translations are of the highest, native quality. Starting with just the one language keeps things simple.
Once you’ve chosen, set the destination language to you chosen language and save the settings. Weglot will automatically add a language-switcher to the bottom-right of your site. Try this out, and you’ll find the whole of your WooCommerce store is automatically translated!
Making sure your WooCommerce store is translated correctly
Even the best automatic translations aren’t perfect, so you’ll want to now head to Translations List on the Weglot Dashboard, where you can manually review the automatic translations. Under Professional Translations you can also order professional translations from vetted agencies, on a per-text-string basis for maximum efficiency.
You’ll want to take care of a couple of WooCommerce-specific quirks to ensure your new international buyers have a perfectly smooth buying experience. Here are four to look out for:
- Localize (product) images: Best practices require you not to have text on your images, but you might do this anyway. 😉 Sort your Translations List by Content Type → Media, and you can replace the URL of the image you want to change on your translated version.
- Currency localization: If you’re going to add location-specific language functionality to your store, then it makes sense to add local currencies, too. The free Price Based on Country extension can do this for you.
- Shipping and customs: When scaling, make sure your provider offers shipping for this market and change your shipping zone accordingly. You can find documentation on setting up shipping zones here.
- Customer service and email marketing: Aside from automatically translating all documentation, Weglot can automatically translate emails WooCommerce sends: just make sure under WordPress Dashboard → Weglot → Other Options, you have Translate Email ticked. But beyond the FAQs, emails, and product notes, you’ll also need to consider offering real-time customer support in your chosen language(s). There are some WooCommerce live-chat plugins that can do this. Alternatively, you might want to consider outsourcing this service.
Which translation plugin works for you?
Online global markets are constantly shapeshifting, which is why building a flexible ecommerce store is essential to avoid growing pains when you’re looking to scale.
All the hard work you put into your business needs to reach the right people; whether you’re targeting audiences which speak minority languages in a huge country where English is the “official” spoken language (the U.S or Australia, for example), or other markets with huge potential; be it South Africa, France or Thailand.
So, if after conducting research into your audience and buyer personas you find that your audience is crying out for a site in their own language; make their buying process as easy and enjoyable as possible!
Multilingual WooCommerce plugins such as Weglot are designed to automate this process for you, removing the pressure of a heavy workload, and providing simplicity when you need it.
Adding multi-language functionality on WordPress/WooCommerce provides one of the most fuss-free and cost-effective ways to scale your business into new markets. It will also strengthen the human element of your store, bringing new potential customers closer for fulfilling new business relationships. Enjoy!