Ultimate Guide: How to build a multilingual WooCommerce store

One of the key benefits of running an online WooCommerce store versus a physical retail store is that you can potentially reach out to customers all across the world, or even the multilingual markets you already sell in. 

However, did you know that 50% of all Google search queries are in a non-English language?  

If you want to reach and sell to people in other countries successfully, it’s important to overcome the language barrier and start translating your website to serve customers all over the world, in their own language. 

But, for this, you’ll need to create a multilingual WooCommerce store. Needless to say, you need your WooCommerce store to provide a great localized experience that supports your visitors’ native language, even if it’s not English. 

And in terms of ROI you won’t be disappointed, €1 spent on localization equals a €25 in return – so it’s well worth adding new languages to your store and the additional costs of doing so. 

So, in this guide, we’ll start by discussing the business benefits of going multilingual. Then, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step tutorial explaining how to create a WooCommerce multilingual store using the Weglot translation plugin for WooCommerce, and lastly go through some of the pain points of selling internationally such as shipping options, currency and payments.

Why create a multilingual WooCommerce store

A multilingual ecommerce site means you can potentially sell to many more customers than you could with a single language store. Even if you don’t plan to sell internationally, you might be surprised by the number of people in your own country who aren’t necessarily speaking the ‘official’ language of your home country. 

For example, in the USA, 41 million people speak Spanish at home, and many millions more speak another language other than English. By translating your WooCommerce store into additional languages, you’ll reach a wider audience and send out a positive message about your business.

Making WooCommerce multilingual not only makes it easier for those people to buy from you, it also serves you in many other ways. 

  • International SEO: Making WooCommerce multilingual will also give you better international search engine optimization and visibility. With a good WordPress multilingual plugin, you can edit your translated content to make it rank for search terms being used in different languages, and you’ll show up when people search in multiple languages and in multiple territories.
  • User experience: For potential customers speaking different languages, translating your WooCommerce store will improve user experience. They’ll be able to read product descriptions in their own language and work through the checkout process without having to use a tool like the in-browser Google translate to help them. This will boost conversions and it will make it easier for people to buy WooCommerce products from you.
  • Inclusiveness: A multilingual store sends a message that you value your international customers and want their business. Plus, it tells all your visitors and customers that you’re an inclusive, outward-looking brand not focused on just one group of people. That’s especially true if you create a fully multilingual WooCommerce store by translating the small details like images and ALT tags. We’ll cover how to do all this later.
  • Credibility: And even for those customers who speak English, it will build your credibility as a brand. Customers speaking translated languages will have more trust in your site and your business, and English-speaking customers will see that you’re an international brand with a wide reach.

Of course, let’s not overlook the obvious either…increased revenue! And, if you’ve already seen traffic from international customers to your store, you can bet that a translated website will do even more to convert.

Is WordPress multilingual? 

So now we’ve looked at why you’d want to go multilingual on WooCommerce, let’s talk about how you’d actually do that. 

One of the questions many WordPress users ask before starting out their multilingual WooCommerce store journey is whether it’s natively multilingual in the first place. 

The answer is no, however, it is planned in the long-term roadmap, we just don’t know when this will happen. 

That means, right now your options are either multiple stores for multiple languages or choosing a WooCommerce translation plugin.

WooCommerce translation plugin vs multiple stores   

First, let’s quickly address the reasons why translating your website with a translation plugin versus going down the multiple store route will lead to a better translation management flow and integration. 

The first thought you might have had when translating your WooCommerce would be to duplicate your store as many times as the number of languages you want to add and then use a translation agency for the translation. 

This method is costly, hugely time-consuming from a website management point of view, and could ultimately lead to parts of your language websites not being fully translated. Each time you add new content to your store, you’ll need the help of translators to translate the text and then update the content manually on your translated store. 

Another method used by some WooCommerce users is to use the integrated WordPress multisite feature to link multiple stores together to reduce some of the manual aspects mentioned above. 

This helps somewhat in that all your stores are managed under one WordPress dashboard rather than separate ones, but it still requires the translation part and you’re still managing multiple stores without any real automation. 

On the other hand, there’s the option to use a WooCommerce translation plugin such as  Weglot. Weglot handles not only the translation of your WooCommerce store but also displays the content under language subdirectories. 

Other key benefits include:

  • Translations are all handled under one interface
  • No need to duplicate your store
  • 100% of your content detected and translated (including new content)
  • Machine translation, manual editing and the option to add or order professional translators 

How to pick A WooCommerce translation plugin

Once you have a hang of your translation requirements, you are on your way to understanding the things you should look for in a WooCommerce translation plugin. Let’s take a look at those features. 

Integration 

You’ll want to make sure the WooCommerce translation plugin you choose is simple and user-friendly to integrate. Some plugins require you to manually duplicate and translate strings one by one or make you download and install multiple plugins with different interfaces to manage different parts of your site, e.g. third-party apps or your images. 

On top of that areas on your store such as the checkout and cart pages can require additional complex steps to give you a fully multilingual store.   

Weglot’s WooCommerce integration takes just 5 minutes, there’s no manual work involved when it comes to creating translations, and any new content you add or change is automatically detected and translated. 

Compatibility with WordPress + WooCommerce

Your website structure and design is unique. Even with the standard approach of using WordPress and WooCommerce, there may be variations in extensions, templates and customizations. 

So the translation plugin you choose should be able to seamlessly integrate with WordPress and WooCommerce. Even better if it can adjust to your store’s design and hidden features.  

Take for example, the “Added to cart” notification a user sees only when they add an item to the cart to checkout later. 

add to cart notification

There are many such hidden text strings that can get overlooked if your WooCommerce translation plugin is not up to the task. 

Weglot integrates well with WooCommerce, and all the strings get the attention and translation they deserve.

Intuitiveness and ease of translation

When translating your site language, you’re not just dealing with the content that you customize, like WooCommerce product descriptions. You’ll also need to translate strings generated by WordPress, WooCommerce and associated themes and plugins, like “Add to Cart”. These can also be called “gettext” strings. 

Now, usually, translating these strings is complicated. It involves getting your hands dirty with editing the theme and plugin files. If you don’t like getting technical or tweaking code, the localization process can turn into a nightmare. 

To make things easier, Weglot has an intuitive, fast-loading, visual interface that lets you translate your WooCommerce store in a live preview of your store. It also lets you switch languages with ease.

weglot visual editor

And there’s more. It can detect the “gettext” strings automatically and generate their translations. 

By the time you end up configuring Weglot, you’ll see that your WooCommerce store, along with the checkout experience, has already been translated with a first layer of machine translation.  

For the parts which require human translation, e.g. you may want to give special attention to your homepage, you can navigate to the Weglot dashboard to make manual edits to your automated translations. The best part is you can do all of this without touching wp-content or downloading any files. 

Weglot also gives another way to edit translations via the Translations tab.

Edit translation in Weglot translations list

This interface presents your translations with a side-by-side comparison of original content and its translation.

Access To Translation Data

If you have all your translated pages stored on WordPress it can make things hard to read when it comes to making edits and even slow down the admin. And, you’ll also need to think about the risk of losing your translations due to security threats, viruses etc.

This is one area where many WordPress translation plugins fall short. Once you set your translations in the multilingual WooCommerce store, the language files are stored on the same server as the rest of your website files.  

This can lead to a slower store and a risk of losing all your translations if something did go wrong. 

With Weglot, your translation files are stored on the Weglot server, giving you ownership, convenience, no website speed impact or security issues. 

Catalog of supported languages

This is a no-brainer. As you consider WooCommerce translation plugins, you would definitely want to pick something that supports your target languages. 

You need to be thinking long-term. Don’t just focus on the languages you need to support now, but also the ones you might need in the future. So you need a plugin that can support a variety of languages.

Weglot, for example, currently supports 100+ languages as well as custom languages, and it frequently adds new languages to its repertoire based on suggestions from its users. 

Completeness of translation

How thorough a plugin is in translation is another important factor. It’s determined by how well it integrates with WordPress and WooCommerce, as we discussed above. 

When it comes to setting up a multilingual WooCommerce store, you want to provide a fully immersive, localized experience to your users. And this means custom translation of every element and page of your online store. 

Weglot leaves no stone unturned in this department too. It can ensure that the whole purchase process is in the users’ native language. With Weglot, you can translate:

  • The shop page, cart pages and check out pages
  • Custom text and strings generated by WordPress and WooCommerce
  • Text added by themes and plugins, e.g. review plugin or popups  
  • Single product and other pages
  • Any widgets, including the cart widget
  • Product categories and tags
  • Emails sent by WooCommerce

Moreover, it will also translate any page you add to your online store automatically and instantly. 

Support for multilingual SEO

Apart from delivering a great experience, a WooCommerce translation plugin also helps you get more traffic from search engines. This is because instead of one default language, now you can target the non-English search queries you were missing out on before. 

However, to fully utilize this opportunity, you need to make sure that your translation plugin can help you optimize your pages for SEO. It should support the translation of important components like:

  • Meta titles of your posts, pages and products
  • Meta descriptions, tags and categories
  • Image captions, titles and alt tags

Fortunately, Weglot has taken care of that too. In fact, it doesn’t just make surface-level changes but builds a solid foundation for SEO.

A subdirectory is automatically generated for each of your target languages, along with a language button for the page. Weglot also adds hreflang tags to the source code, helping Google understand your translations.

hreflang tags in Weglot

Speed and accuracy of results

Speeding up the translation process usually involves some compromise on quality and completeness and vice versa. So you want your translation process to strike a balance between these two benefits. 

In addition, you’d also want your translations to be consistent across different pages. For example, if you change a product’s name on the single product page, the change should reflect on the shop page as well.

Also, it should be able to take into account the variations in the same language based on locations. For example, people in both Argentina and Spain speak Spanish, but it’s not the exact same Spanish. There may be differences in not just the nuisances of language but in other elements like currencies, too. 

So your translation plugin of choice should be able to translate fast and handle different languages, along with delivering satisfactory translations. 

It should also be able to use the best proportion of human and machine translation to give the desired output across the entire store. 

That’s why when you set up Weglot, it automatically translates your current pages, or any pages you add from that point onward. 

However, even the best automatic translation can’t always be accurate. So Weglot gives you the ability to make changes to any area or page as desired. All you need to do is go to the translations tab of your Weglot account and start reviewing.

Weglot translations list

The Translations tab gives you an easy way to manage your translation tasks. You can also access the visual editor to view and change translations as they appear on your website.

Affordability and pricing model

As you consider different WooCommerce translation solutions, you’ll see variations in their costs and pricing models. 

Whether your budget is high or low, it’s important to look at pricing from a long-term perspective. Pricing models can be tricky and what seems cost-effective may turn out to be more expensive in the long run. 

Weglot does a great job of offering flexible pricing plans for people with different needs and budgets, with the opportunity to scale as your business grows in the future.   

In addition, as we discussed, many plugins store the translation data on your website’s server, which can lead to an increase in your hosting costs. On the other hand, Weglot keeps your translation on its own secure server. 

Also, you don’t even need to purchase for downloading and setting it up. You can start with a free trial and then upgrade as your needs evolve.

Ease of team collaboration

Depending on the size of your store, you may need more than one person to work on human translations. 

While teamwork can speed up the translation process, it can also be a hurdle if your team members are not on the same page. Weglot lets you add team members to your account so they can all work together cohesively on each translation project. 

Keep in mind that effective collaboration among your staff helps you avoid miscommunication and meet your translation goals on time. 

Thorough documentation and prompt support

Regardless of your technical skills, sooner or later you may run into an issue and require support. So don’t overlook this part when considering a WooCommerce translation plugin. 

The quality of support for any product is determined by two aspects:

  • Do they have complete, easy-to-follow documentation?
  • Do they have a way to contact them, and do they respond fast?
Weglot support

As you can see on the Weglot help center, there are many tutorials and guides you can search for, along with an option to contact support in the top right corner. 

How to create a multilingual WooCommerce store (tutorial) 

Now you know more about what to look for in a WooCommerce translation plugin, we’ll show you how to create a multilingual store using the Weglot plugin

For this tutorial, we’ll assume you already have some products added to your WooCommerce store and have picked a WordPress theme. We’ll also for the purposes of this article look at translating your online store from English to Spanish.

You can use Weglot to translate your WooCommerce store from over 100+ original languages to destination languages. You can choose from English to Spanish, Spanish to English, or any combination of languages or even create different English language versions, such as an American store and a British store. 

Step #1: Create a Weglot account

The first thing you need to do is sign up for a Weglot account.

Step #2: Find and install the Weglot plugin on WordPress

Log in to your WordPress.org website and head over to Plugins > Add New. Search for the Weglot plugin and install and activate it.

Step #3: Add your languages

You’ll now see you have a Weglot tab on your WordPress Dashboard. Click on it to finalize adding your languages. First add your API key, you can access this from your Weglot Dashboard, under ‘Settings’ > ‘Setup’. Then:

Weglot setup process
  • Select the original language, i.e. the language your WooCommerce store is currently in.
  • Select the destination languages, i.e. the language(s) you want to translate your WooCommerce store into.
  • Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.

And that’s it! Your WooCommerce store is now 100% translated. If you head over to your online store, you’ll notice a language switcher has been added to the bottom right corner of the screen. You can also customize the language switcher button in a variety of ways (through your Weglot tab in your WordPress Dashboard).

Language switcher woocommerce

With Weglot, you get a first layer of machine translation. You then have full control over these translations, so you can make manual edits yourself, add your own translator to your dashboard or order professional translators through Weglot.

Translate product pages

Weglot translates not just posts and pages (including the home page) in your WordPress site but also custom post types and custom taxonomies, including WooCommerce products and their categories and tags. So when you add WooCommerce product pages to your store, Weglot will automatically translate them for you.

Your translated products will be stored in the Translations section of your Weglot account, along with your translated posts, pages, and other content. This is where you carry out translation management. You can search for specific products to find their product translations using the Search field.

translated products

You can also use the Visual Editor to check the translations and edit them if you need to.

Log into your Weglot account and then go to Translations > Visual Editor. Click the Start editing button to see your site in the visual editor.

You can then navigate to your store and to individual products in the same way as you would in the live site.

To edit the details for your product, click on the section you want to edit and then click the blue pencil icon next to the text.

You can also access individual translations via the Translations screen in your Weglot dashboard. Click the Details icon next to the translation and you can edit it and view its translation history.

translation history

You can also mark the translation as reviewed so other members of your translation team know it’s been checked.

Translate your shop page, cart page and checkout page

As well as individual products, Weglot automatically translates your WooCommerce shop page, cart page and checkout pages.

This means that the entire purchase process is conducted in the user’s language, meaning you don’t lose potential customers because they have to switch to English.

Weglot will automatically translate any store pages you add to your site. It will also translate any Woocommerce widgets such as the cart widget.

If you don’t already have them, start by creating your cart and checkout pages. Create empty static pages for each of these and WooCommerce will automatically populate them with the content of the checkout, cart, etc.

static pages woocommerce

You don’t need to create a main store page as WooCommerce does that for you.

Then go to WooCommerce > Settings > Advanced and select the pages you’ve created and assigned them to the relevant WooCommerce page types.

Weglot will automatically translate those pages from your default language. To find your translated pages, go to the Translations screen in your Weglot dashboard.

Note: If you’ve added a page and can’t find it in your translations list, go to your URLs tab within the Weglot Dashboard to sync the content and this will generate the translations. 

You can manage translations from here, editing them and marking them as viewed. Or you can go to the visual translation editor and visit your main shop page there, making any tweaks to the translated content that you might need to.

edit product translations

You can also check the cart and checkout pages and edit the translated text if you need to.

As customers checkout on your site, WooCommerce will generate notifications to tell them what’s in their cart. Weglot will dynamically translate these for you as they’re generated, as you can see if you check your Translations screen.

check and edit translations

All of this means you don’t have to do anything manually to translate all of the pages, widgets and notifications in your store. Unless you want to manually edit the translated text for user experience or SEO, you can leave Weglot’s machine translation to do everything for you.

You can also create a multilingual quick order form for your store, meaning people can buy items right from the product page. To do this, use the WooCommerce Product Table plugin to decide what fields you want to add in your order form. Then use the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin to create a lightbox with your order form. This is fully compatible with Weglot.

Translate important SEO elements

Your multilingual site will also have elements that are important for search engine optimization; elements that can help you rank more highly in Google and other search engines.

These will include:

  • URL slugs for posts, pages and custom post types
  • Page and post titles
  • Page and post meta descriptions
  • Image alt tags
  • Product categories and tags

Weglot lets you translate all of those. Let’s take a look at each.

Translating URL slugs

URL slugs are automatically generated by WordPress in your main language, and you can edit them manually in your post or page editing screen for both SEO and user experience (UX).

So if you’re writing blog posts for your store’s SEO, you can create a translated version of their slugs to target search terms that might be used in your target languages.

On the post editing screen, scroll to the bottom of the screen to the Weglot URL translate section. Here you can directly edit the URL slug for that post in the translated language.

Once you’ve done this, make sure to save your changes by updating the post. Search engines will then be able to use that slug as part of the metadata that will help them classify the site.

Translating post and page titles

Post and page titles are translated automatically by Weglot’s machine translation along with post and page content.

Just like the content, you can edit them via the Translations screen in Weglot or by using the Visual Editor. Click on the post or page title in the Visual Editor and edit the translation for SEO if you want to include keywords that people will be searching for in the translated language.

edit metadata translation

Translate page and post meta descriptions

Weglot integrates with the Yoast SEO plugin to translate content strings added by Yoast including meta descriptions.

Add a meta description to your page or post using Yoast:

meta description

Weglot will then translate this text: if you inspect the code behind your translated post, page or product, you’ll find the translated meta description.

This means that search engines can use your translated meta description to understand your site and place it higher in search engine rankings.

Translate image alt tags

When you add images of your products to your store, Weglot will translate the alt tags you add to those images. 

First, make sure your product image has an alt tag. You can set this by editing the image and opening the media settings screen.

edit alt text

Weglot will translate this for you when you visit the product page. You can see the translated tag if you inspect the code behind the page.

Translate product categories and tags

When you add product categories to your WooCommerce store, Weglot will add them to your translations and translate them automatically.

Start by adding a product category or tag via Products > Categories or Products > Tags.

tagged links

These will then be added to your translations. When you visit the translated tag or category page, you’ll be able to see them in the foreign language.

Note that if your store uses product attributes, these will be translated too.

Like other content, you can access these translations via the visual editor or the Translations List in Weglot and manually edit them if you want to optimize them for SEO or UX and include keywords.

How a lifestyle clothing brand increased its conversion rate 25% by translating its WooCommerce store with Weglot 

La Machine Cycle Club, a cycling fashion brand, started to receive orders from all over the world which led them to look into options for translating their WooCommerce store. With increased demand from overseas, they needed a WooCommerce translation plugin that would help them expand quickly. 

Initially, they used the popular plugin WPML, however, they found it too heavy and it ended up affecting the speed of their ecommerce store, making them concerned about their conversion rate. 

This led them to find Weglot, which they installed quickly and didn’t impact their site speed. With Weglot they added French, German and Dutch to serve a large portion of Europe and further afield. 

“Our percentage of sales from outside the Netherlands quickly grew to 50%.”

Rens Robroek, co-founder of La Machine Cycle Club

One thing that was very important to the team at La Machine Cycle Club was making sure any new content or content updates were always translated. 

Thanks to Weglot, their translations management was streamlined as any content changes or new products were automatically detected and translated meaning they didn’t need to worry about untranslated content appearing on their ecommerce store. 

“Thanks to Weglot, we have increased our traffic and sales by 25%.” 

Rens Robroek, co-founder of La Machine Cycle Club

By adding 3 languages to their WooCommerce store with Weglot, La Machine Cycle Club managed to quickly enter new markets and start making international sales. The small team behind the cycling brand could rely on Weglot to help with their translations management and ultimately help increase international sales by 50%. 

Read the full case study from La Machine Cycle Club

Note, since this case study was created, La Machine Cycle Club has since moved to Shopify and continues to use Weglot on their store. 

Practical considerations of setting up a multilingual WooCommerce store 

So we’ve covered everything you need to know about adding a WooCommerce translation plugin to your store, but there are a couple of other more practical parts of selling internationally to keep in mind. 

How to set up international shipping rules 

When selling internationally, naturally you will need to adjust your shipping zones to accommodate shipping to these new countries. 

This can be handled by adding a WooCommerce plugin such as “WooCommerce Shipping & Tax extension”. Although this can be handled within WooCommerce, adding such a plugin will give you more options to customize your shipping settings compared with the standard options available in WooCommerce which are rather limited. 

1. Create your shipping zones

In WooCommerce you can create as many shipping zones as you want and need and they can be tailored to countries or even certain zip/ postcodes. 

2. Assign shipping methods to your shipping zones

Once you’ve created new shipping zones you’ll then need to apply shipping methods to them. There are a few different shipping methods to choose from within WooCommerce, including: 

  • Free shipping: The customer won’t be paying for shipping
  • Local pickup: Customers can pick up their package from a local pickup point 
  • Flat rate shipping: Setting fixed shipping costs per item, shipping class or order
  • Dynamic rates: Based on live rates from logistics providers 

3. Set the pricing for your shipping methods

The last step is to set up the pricing for each of your chosen shipping methods. At this point, using a WooCommerce shipping calculator will allow you to calculate how much you should charge for the various shipping options you want to offer. 

For more information on WooCommerce shipping methods read our full blog article. 

Currency conversion 

Ensuring your customers can pay in their currency is paramount to finalizing a sale. Having to view products in an unfamiliar currency where the customer needs to do all the work to find out the exchange rate will discourage those looking to purchase. 

Adding a currency switcher to your WooCommerce store will allow users to see your products in their own currency and will help you to avoid losing customers. 

Adding payment options 

Selling in new markets and therefore countries mean you also need to adapt to their infrastructures. And that’s where payment methods come into play. 

Each country around the world has its own preferred payment method that you’ll need to consider adding to your WooCommerce store to make that sale. Even countries such as those in the EU that use the same currency, use different payment methods compared with their neighbors. 

For example, French consumers pay with debit cards, but those living in the Netherlands use the direct bank transfer method iDeal – so whilst both are almost neighbors, they prefer completely different payment methods. 

Even though adding new payment methods can entail additional costs, if you don’t have the preferred method at the final point of sale you may end up losing the sale entirely. 

Summary 

Making your WooCommerce store multilingual can open up your website to the world. 

We’ve seen how technical the process can be if you mix the multisite option with other translation plugins. Thankfully there are WooCommerce multilingual plugins such as Weglot that take care of the whole process and give you the ultimate flexibility and speed without any complex workarounds, letting you create a multilingual store in minutes. 

We also broke down the various features to look out for when picking your WooCommerce translation plugin including, multilingual SEO, translations management, easy install, speed issues and so on. 

If you’re ready to make your WooCommerce store multilingual, why not try Weglot’s 10-day free trial

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