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Karolina KulachMay 24, 2018 9:01:00 AM8 min read

The comprehensive guide to translation for BigCommerce

Selling via the ecommerce platform BigCommerce, you can maximize your sales potential on both domestic and international markets. BigCommerce doesn’t provide translations for the theme’s content, but you can run your store in foreign languages.

You can translate and localize your themes and give yourself the chance to multiply your online sales abroad. Additionally, you can add many functionalities using third party solutions.

In this article we’ll give you some solid background about translation for BigCommerce. We’ll also tell you what can help you to increase your efficiency and revenue to unprecedented levels.

Read up on translation for BigCommerce and the modern, AI-based ecommerce translation technology!

ecommerce translation localization

Your BigCommerce store in multiple languages: the Stencil Framework

Stencil is a new approach to theme and front-end development on the BigCommerce platform. It allows you to build dynamic storefronts and customize their look.

BigCommerce doesn’t provide translations for the theme’s content, but, on the basis of the provided schema, you can localize your themes for desired target languages.

One of the key components of Stencil is the Stencil Framework (Stencil CLI). The Stencil Framework enables you to define multiple linguistic translations for each theme on the basis of a predefined schema. Theme developers aren’t required to localize a theme for it to work.

What gets translated

Theme translation takes place only to the degree that you create JSON (JavaScript Object Notation, a lightweight data-interchange format) files for each language that you decide to support, and include key/value pairs for the text blocks/parameters that you decide to translate.

Such translated values will be displayed to visitors who have chosen the corresponding language in their browser’s locale preferences. The Stencil framework automatically identifies the Accept-Language request HTTP header from the user’s browser.

Where a Stencil theme has no JSON file that matches any of the visitor’s desirable languages, it will refer to the values in the default English-language JSON file.

Currently Stencil’s multi-language capabilities are limited to the strings that you specify within the theme. Content from a store’s catalog database, e.g. product names, cannot be currently translated within the Stencil framework.

To fully support multiple languages, you can set up separate storefronts for individual languages. This way you can thoroughly customize all of your content for each target audience, also product catalogs. Alternatively, you can use a full-package ecommerce localization solution for the optimal translation of your store.

Localizing your BigCommerce online store

Localizing your BigCommerce store for foreign markets will help you reach new customers and increase your online sales.To fully localize your store for given languages/regions, you’ll need to take into account a few areas.

Storefront theme pages

  • This has to do with translating static strings and adding translation files for your selected languages, via Stencil CLI.
  • The core of store localization is translating content on your theme’s page templates into chosen languages. These templates’ literal text strings will need to be abstracted into variables, then provided per-language JSON files defining these variables in corresponding key/value pairs.

Localizing checkout and order confirmation pages

  • Both theme files (in Stencil CLI) and settings in the BigCommerce control panel need to be modified.
  • You must first enable Optimized One-Page Checkout.

Other localization details

  • Product catalogs, currency, checkout type, date format, order statuses, transactional emails, gift certificates, blog, static web pages.
  • You need to access the BigCommerce control panel (outside your theme). For example, each store’s default currency and setting the appropriate date format for your store’s language/region are configured in the BigCommerce control panel.

Based on the information above, you must localize the store’s product catalog separately from its theme. Each entry within a catalog can be set up in only one language. This means that you need a separate version of your catalog for each single-language store.

Localization file structure & supported features

The structure of .json translation files (key-value pairs) is straightforward as per example below:

welcome_back”: “Welcome back, {name}

In the example above (from Stencil’s default en.json file), “welcome_back” is a generic key name for a welcome message. Its assigned value for English-language stores is the string “Welcome back, {name}”.

If you design your theme’s storefront pages to refer to this message by its generic key name “welcome_back”, its localized value can be passed to other languages due to defining this value in each language’s .json file.

Key-value pairs are grouped into objects. Check out a longer example below:

bigcommerce localization file structure

When it comes to supported features, the .json translation files, loaded and parsed as UTF-8, should support practically any natural language and the following features:

  • Automatic language detection: based on the active shopper’s “Accept‑Language” header, the Stencil Framework can automatically detect a localized language
  • Cascading translations: typically cascading works across languages and locales.
    • Let’s say a Quebec/French-Canadian buyer visits a storefront built with both fr.json and fr‑CA.json localization files (within the framework the fr‑CA locale is “on top of” the base fr locale). Thus, any strings missing from the fr‑CA.json file will utilize definitions in the base fr.json file, which should result in at least approximate translations.
  • Nested plurality and gender support
    • The framework enables you to code conditional plurality for strings within each translation file.
    • The framework supports per-language conditional coding of relevant genders for nouns and pronouns.

Invoking translation keys & translation syntax

After defining keys and values in relevant .json translation files, you invoke dynamic translation strings using the Stencil Framework’s custom Handlebars helper.

The generic format of your invocation would be like this:

In a non-internationalized theme, a storefront page might include the following static/dynamic string:

<a href=””>Welcome Back <span></span></a>

The corresponding internationalized version that can work with any language would substitute the fully dynamic Handlebars helper:

<a href=””></a>

ecommerce localize

Localizing your online store with a multilingual app

One way of translating your BigCommerce store is using the multilingual app called Weglot. The good news is that you don’t need to write code yourself. The app will help you translate and display your website in new languages and automatically redirect your store to the relevant language.

The benefits of using Weglot include:

  • A simple set-up and compatibility with every Theme.
  • An option to activate auto redirection to match the user’s preferred language, based on their browser language.
  • Translation of every string on the page included in the source code.
  • Automatic detection and translation of content so you can properly focus on content.
  • A single place to manage all your languages and translations
  • In-context editor tool and button customization.

A potential challenge may be the risk of the translation not working on all versions of BigCommerce checkout.

How to translate your BigCommerce store in the most efficient way

As BigCommerce doesn’t provide translations for the theme’s content and currently Stencil’s localization capabilities are limited, the best option for many online sellers may be a full-package solution.

If you offer many products or your buyers speak many languages, getting down to the translation and localization of your store by yourself doesn’t seem to be optimal, time and money wise.

Trying to organize translations for your BigCommerce store, you can expect some time-consuming work and research to understand the process. Your goal is to ensure ecommerce-optimized translation will help your products be found and sold abroad.

What’s the optimal solution? For many online sellers it’s ecommerce-oriented, automatic translation.

Currently, international online retailers must do a great deal of manual work, matching product categories, attributes, sizes and so on.

Unfortunately, often they’re not even sure if they’re doing it correctly. Fortunately, you can avoid all this uncertainty.

You can also avoid all the hassle of translating and localizing your online store. How come? Because today we have the amazing developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analysis at our disposal.

Combining machines’ capabilities and the intelligence of the human brain is often the easiest and fastest way to grow your online sales.

A simple raw description is enough for AI to localize the whole content, extract attributes, convert sizes and map the right category in an accurate, efficient and consistent way.

According to Patrick Smarzynski, CEO at Glopal with over 15 years of experience in ecommerce technology,

It is humans that have knowledge and do the thinking, but it is machines that are fast and more consistent. Technology combined with the human touch can produce amazing results.

To read more about how AI impacts ecommerce translation, check out How Artificial Intelligence revolutionizes ecommerce translation.

Boost your store’s sales with an ecommerce translation solution

Ecommerce translation isn’t about recognizing words and phrases and simply combining them. It’s not about impeccably correct or poetic descriptions, either. What most buyers want is a clear list of product attributes that can be checked at a glance.

What you want in your translated listings are relevant keywords that will help buyers find your product and help you sell it.

What’s at the heart of optimal ecommerce translation? Clearly listed attributes and the right keywords.

Affordable, automated, human-quality ecommerce translation is what we do at Glopal. Our AI-based, natural language processing solution is built, optimized and trained specifically for ecommerce. It understands the notion of products, attributes, categories and context in a way that standard machine translation and most human translators cannot.

To learn more about how it works and how it can benefit your online business, check out our Ecommerce Translation Page.

globe sell internationally

In a nutshell

If your online store is based on BigCommerce and you’re wondering how to maximize your sales potential, there’s an efficient way of doing so. It has proven to bring amazing, measurable results for many international online merchants. It’s localizing your store and offering your products on foreign markets.

There is no greater growth opportunity for online sellers than international.

BigCommerce is a great platform for selling your products and running your store in foreign markets. However, it doesn’t provide you with a single tool that would take care of all localization components with a few clicks.

Thus, as the localization capacities of the platform are limited, consider using an ecommerce solution that can launch your store on tens of international markets hassle-free and almost instantly.

In this article we’ve highlighted how you can translate and localize your BigCommerce store. We’ve also suggested an optimal translation solution that can take a great load off your chest and help you get the best possible return-on-investment.


Karolina Kulach

Karolina Kulach is a content marketer and non-fiction writer, specialising in global ecommerce and online sales trends. Educated in Linguistics (MA) and Business Studies (BA Hons). A well-travelled individual with international education & work experience gained in London, Scotland, Poland and Germany. In her spare time buzzing with creative content ideas, including funky rhyming poems.