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The Vital Role of Translation in the Future of Fashion Voice Search


Used for everything from booking a taxi, calling a friend, playing a song or – increasingly, these days – buying our favourite clothing items from ecommerce brands, voice search devices are now present in one in five UK homes[1]. And that figure looks set to grow.

Research shows that 20 per cent of all Google searches are now conducted via voice searches – a figure that’s been on the rise since 2013[2]. Additionally, 65 per cent of smart speaker owners say they feel comfortable making an online purchase with their speaker[3], while 43 per cent of voice-enabled device owners conduct all their shopping using this type of search[4].

Some fashion giants have already responded to the trend and are getting ahead of the game. H&M, for example, launched an online shopping guide, which users can browse through, then inform their voice assistant – linked up to their credit card – what they wish to order. Beauty brand Estée Lauder has introduced the ability for shoppers to order custom-made skincare solutions through voice search, while online fashion leader ASOS is making huge strides with ‘Enki’; all a user need do is say ‘Hey Google, talk to ASOS’, and Enki will serve items from the collection that meet a user’s spoken requests to their phone for them to purchase.

But how can others follow suit, and what role does translation play in this journey? Because we must consider that while smart voice devices are great at translating human language into a search request, to meet the needs of audiences around the world who are increasing their use of voice search, an overhaul of many companies’ international marketing materials will need to take place.  

More and more, translation providers are working closely with online fashion brands looking to expand globally, developing new strategies and techniques to ensure potential customers can find them from anywhere in the world, and to create attractive and efficient user experiences across all marketing channels and materials.

A perfect voice search and SEO ensemble

Consumers on the hunt for the latest fashion trends engage best with a smart assistant that both understands them, and which produces results that meet their request. For shoppers around the world, improvements in voice technology are making this ever more possible no matter where they’re located.

Alexa, the voice search device from Amazon, speaks and understands eight different languages, while Google Assistant can support up to 44 languages from around the world, so brands which haven’t considered translated voice search as part of their marketing strategies are potentially missing out on huge global audiences. To achieve that effectively, marketers should firstly look at the basics of their website build, then consider how translation can help them achieve their goals.

To find out what potential customers might be using their voice assistant to search for, brands should combine both a strong, multi-language SEO strategy with local and cultural research of the fashion trends in target regions.

That’s because shoppers will often use different search terms than those we might expect in English language territories and when considering voice search specifically, will require a bespoke strategy to cater specifically for spoken requests.

In short, fashion brands should build their SEO strategy to ensure their products can be found by anyone, anywhere in the world, whether they type or speak their search.

Fashion-forward international messaging

Product endorsement and positive shopping experience is key to the success of online fashion brands; the likelihood is that if someone has a good experience on your platform, tailored to their language needs, they’ll be more likely to buy from you again in the future.

If you’ve been able to capture a shopper through voice search, start to consider the role the rest of your marketing material can play to extend their journey with you. Doing so involves more than just translating your original content word for word.

Target audiences of different cultures and languages engage more with messages that are tailored to their specific markets, so when you translate your content, review all previous, live and upcoming campaigns to ensure the content, tone and sentiment is relevant to all. That way, you’ll be able to capture their attention in a language they understand.

It’s a service we provided for global fashion search platform Lyst; translating its website content and PR campaign messaging to help it launch into the Netherlands, Italy and Germany ensured that shoppers in those native regions could successfully find products matching their requirements quickly and easily, but also ensured shoppers who speak those languages but are located elsewhere around the world could achieve the same outcomes.

Voice search and video content platforms

Increasingly, video content and other visuals are being used to produce search results for online shoppers. A typed Google search of ‘how to style a trilby hat’ produces a mix of YouTube videos and images to a user ahead of a standard webpage, for example.

To ensure that their video content emerges as the best voice search result, international online fashion brands should add video descriptions and meta tags in various different languages so they can be discovered by shoppers anywhere in the world. Then, to help the users understand the content, apply translated subtitles or a foreign language voiceover to their footage. Doing so will mean when a request for your products or content is made in another language, Google is better enabled to offer yours as the best result, while the corresponding video will be in a language that the user understands, allowing your brand to make an impression with them.

Voice search is advancing in its capabilities and looks set to dominate how fashion-savvy shoppers seek out the products that define their image. For global businesses, translation is a key tool to help to understand your current or potential customers, the ways in which they shop, how they might find your products and what you can do now to get ahead in the voice search race so your ranges dominate the fashion trends of the future.

Article by Alan White, Business Development Director at The Translation People

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cdei-publishes-its-first-series-of-three-snapshot-papers-ethical-issues-in-ai/snapshot-paper-smart-speakers-and-voice-assistants

[2] https://synergyretailsupport.co.uk/voice-search-and-its-questionable-future-in-ecommerce/

[3] https://99firms.com/blog/voice-search-statistics/#gref

[4] https://99firms.com/blog/voice-search-statistics/#gref

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