3 Ways Retailers Can Expand Multilingual Capabilities Beyond Customer Service


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Many organizations relied on AI to scale up operational capabilities during the pandemic. These capabilities helped organizations do more with less, and leverage existing talent to reach new international markets. This was particularly important for industries like retail and travel that were struck by closures and uncertain reopening timelines. But, now that pandemic restrictions are becoming more relaxed, how can retailers extend the reach of their multilingual capabilities beyond customer service alone?

Harnessing effective localization practices could make a major difference to both customer sentiment and the bottom line. According to the Unbabel 2021 Global Multilingual CX Survey, 57% of consumers consider it a bias when brands don’t offer end-to-end multilingual experiences to their customers. Most customers (64%) said they’d pay a higher price for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language.

The multilingual retail customer experience encompasses not only support, but other localization efforts throughout the organization. Here are three departments that should consider leveraging AI for localization.


Localized content makes a big difference in the customer experience, particularly for ecommerce. Shipping numbers alone could imply an increased demand for multilingual experiences: Cross-border ecommerce transactions have risen to account for 22% of overall shipments of physical products.

A localized ecommerce experience might include native-language FAQs for support, as well as country-specific or regional websites and marketing content. Fortunately, many of the same AI technologies that are used for support can be used for marketing localization efforts. From landing pages to email and social campaigns,retail marketers must account for cultural nuances and accurately convey brand sentiment.

While hiring a legion of translation and localization professionals might have worked in the past, this approach can be costly and difficult to scale. However, relying on human-in-the-loop AI systems for localization can apply the best of both worlds. Human editors can augment machine translation to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks – whether that’s a simple contextual error, or a word or phrase that could turn off potential customers.


For many retail organizations, sales and support channels operate in similar ways. Both are on the front lines of customer and prospect interactions. In some cases, support agents can double as sales professionals, presenting upsell or cross-sell opportunities for customers.

Regardless of how your team is structured, organizations that rely on email and chat can lean more heavily on AI for multilingual translation. The customer or prospect on the other end of the interaction doesn’t even have to know that AI is at work behind the scenes. Using this approach means top-performing sales reps can field conversations with customers anywhere in the world. In addition, leveraging AI can empower retailers to provide 24/7, global sales coverage.


Many global retailers, particularly those with an emphasis on ecommerce, understand that they can hire for talent regardless of where employees are located. In fact, 61% of job-seekers are looking for remote opportunities in 2022. However, striking the right tone for these global job hunters can be a challenge.

That’s where AI can come in to provide lean HR teams with a bit more flexibility. HR leaders can leverage AI to localize job descriptions, training programs, onboarding resources and more.

Language barriers don’t have to stand in the way of delivering native language employee experiences. These efforts are becoming even more critical in the wake of the Great Resignation. Organizations (like PWC, as one example) are treating employees as the new customer, investing millions on employee engagement and retention strategies to reduce attrition. Starting with language is a great way to kick off these employee experience initiatives, and ensure that nothing critical gets lost in translation.

Breaking down silos

A major way for retailers to break down departmental silos around language is to centralize their overall approach, rather than treat each translation or localization initiative as a distinct, one-off effort.

Getting strategic with Language Operations might mean assigning a single owner or stakeholder for all organization-wide localization efforts. This stakeholder can operationalize the right AI technology and localization best-practices across departments. The ultimate goal of this approach is to leverage existing resources as much as possible, with exponentially less spend on technology, external consultants, and other potentially costly budget line items.

Ideally, most organizations will see the opportunity of incorporating AI into their business strategy not just as a productivity enhancer, but as a competitive differentiator. The right technology-enabled multilingual localization strategy can expand the pool of global talent, tap into new customers, and deliver experiences that resonate with target audiences – regardless of where in the world they’re located.


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