Global competition is getting tougher by the day and many companies have no choice but to enter the race to succeed. In this blog I cover a few concrete steps to localize product sales for different markets.
Challenges in multilingual product marketing
During my career, I have worked in a few companies operating in international markets in marketing and sales digitisation positions. I could start by sharing my own experiences with typical pain points related to product sales localization.
When I started my career, it was quite typical that salespeople took a huge amount of time to hunt for product information from different sources when preparing quotations for their customers. The basic product information was maybe found on the website or brochure, but the technical specifications had to be asked from product development, the technical fit was checked from the data sheet, the images were searched from marketing and the prices were asked from the supervisor. In addition, there were huge differences in country-specific access to information. For example, in a country where the R&D department was, there was much more information available than in those where only sales offices existed. A lot of valuable sales time was wasted looking for product information.
In marketing, managing translations was hopeless. I remember how translation excels were sent to each country, and one could never be sure which part of the data was translated and where the translations were lacking.
Multi-channel content management in general was challenging. The information had to be manually updated on each sales channel, and since updates to different channels were handled by different people, you could never be sure whether the website had the same information as brochures and quotations.
My current job, I have noticed that many companies are still struggling with these same challenges, and the overall management is not made any easier by the fact that the pace of change is accelerating all the time. Information is changing, more channels are emerging, more languages are taken into use, local requirements and regulations are changing all the time. But you have to keep up in order to stay in the race.
Fortunately for me, at some point I was able to get acquainted with centralized product information management, i.e. the PIM system, which functioned as an internal product information bank. There, translations could be managed centrally, and from there, the information was automatically updated to all the sales channels where the information was needed.
Centralized product information management PIM is an in-house collaboration platform that gathers information from where it can be found, enriches it and organizes it to better meet customer needs, and automatically publishes it to serve customers through various sales channels. Once the information is exported to the PIM system, it is automatically displayed correctly in all online services, applications, stores, and materials.
Localization of product sales in practice
Below is a picture of the PIM user interface. There are several ways to import data to be localized into the PIM system:
- Translations can be done directly in the user interface
- Translatinos can be uploaded to PIM from excel
Translations can be imported from other systems or databases
If needed, PIM can also be used together with external translation services:
- You can fetch translations directly from PIM UI as machine translations, either from free, open services or from a translation partner.
- Translations can also be fetched from the translation partner’s translation service, which is based on the company’s own term bank
- PIM can be integrated into the translation partner’s customer portal, from which even more demanding translation work can be ordered directly to PIM
In PIM, it is easy to view versions of product information in different languages side by side. At the same time, you can monitor the enrichment rate of mandatory content. What information is found and what is missing.
Missing data can be filtered into different table views. In the figure below, for example, the products of a specific product manager that lack marketing texts in Finnish and English are filtered. This makes it easy for that product manager to fill in the missing information.
Similarly, the PIM system can control country-specific differences. For example, the Key Flag is needed in the Finnish market, and the Swedish market may have its own regulations or legal requirements.
Product Sales Localization – An Advanced Example
Finally, one practical example from Central Europe, from a paint manufacturer whose products are sold in many different countries. As is well known, paints are products with different regulatory requirements in different countries. Therefore, it is important that all country-specific product information is always correct wherever it is displayed. The label of a tin sold in Germany must have certain symbols and in England others are required.
This paint manufacturer has a centralized product information management system, from which information is published to every label, marketing material and price list, and there is always a certainty that the information is correct and up to date.
This company has taken the use of data to the next level. They make customer-specific materials using centrally managed data. The catalogues for consumers and professionals are different. Contract customers’ catalogues only have their own products. Even labels are made partly on a customer-by-customer basis. All this is possible when product information and its localisations are centrally managed.