What Is SaaS Localization? And Why Is It Important?


With the continuous change and evolution of customer needs, it is no surprise that languages become part and parcel of that change and evolution. This brings to the forefront the term localization or as we will focus in this article, SaaS localization.

But First, What Is Localization?

Many people mistake localization for simple translation. And they are close, we cannot deny that. But localization isn’t just communicating in words of another language, rather it’s communicating a plethora of ideas, idioms, and emotions in that other language.

It’s speaking the way the natives of a particular language speak, that is localizing the language and content you’re communicating.

You can find localization in a variety of things. It gets a bit harder in products and services, where sometimes it’s not enough to just translate.

Localization and translation aren’t interchangeable. Sometimes you need translation and not localization but the latter is often used with online services and mobile applications. In other words, think of translation as level 1 and localization as level 2.

What Is SaaS Localization?

SaaS, which is short for software as a service, is one of those products and services that is seeing a major growth in localization.

As the world seeks to understand one another and communicate not just in English but in their multitude of foreign tongues, localization becomes an essential aspect of the SaaS world and its myriad of applications and sub-services.

The Standard Situation

Most companies and startups are now focusing on having their website, mobile app, and services provided written in English. That’s because roughly 20% of the global population speaks English; that’s 1.5 billion people, according to 2017 data by Babbel.com. Of these 1.5 billion people, only 360 million people are native speakers of English.

For many small business, English is usually the go-to language to attract a wide range of customers – after all 1.5 billion is a HUGE number.

In addition, having English as the language of choice would likely enable a business to reach more customers, making it more scalable. Still, it’s not mission accomplished just yet.

After all, there are other languages people communicate with. Over 1.2 billion speak Mandarin Chinese, while Spanish and Arabic have roughly 470 million and 422 million speakers, respectively, says Studyfeeds.com. French and German speakers, including non-natives, stand at around 153 million and 110 million, respectively.

The Importance of SaaS Localization

Communication is important; there’s no denying that. But when it comes to online services, localization can be what makes your customers buy your services or fore-go you entirely.

If you have an online or SaaS product, here’s why you need to consider SaaS Localization: Over 50% of Google.com queries are carried out in languages other than English.

“Internet usage has been growing at a staggering rate in non-native English-speaking countries,” according to data compiled by Phrase.com. Moreover, search engines have seen regular updates and upgrades to meet this demand from non-English-speaking audiences.

Moreover, a poll involving 3,002 consumers from 10 countries showed that most consumers preferred to read content in their mother tongue, especially when they were about to make a purchase.

“We found a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue. This partiality leads many potential prospects unsure of their reading skills to avoid English-language websites, spend less time during their visits, and not buy products that lack instructions or post-sales customer support in their language,” the report by Common Sense Advisory (CSA) Research said.

In other words, people prefer to make financial transactions in their native tongue, which means having a localized website or mobile app or service is likely to get more leads and sales than a non-localized one.

Shopify Focuses on SaaS Localization

One of the highlights of 2020 was e-commerce platform Shopify focusing on Saas localization in its most recent event.

In February, Shopify organized its annual Shopify Pursuit, where developers and e-commerce businesses gather to discuss the latest updates in e-commerce and online selling.

One of the top trending topics during the Shopify Pursuit, which Gameball Co-founder Omar Alfar reported was tackled during conference talks and amongst attendees, was localization.

Gameball's CTO Omar Alfar with Shopify Country Manager for Spain Kintxo Cortés at the Shopify Pursuit in Amsterdam in Feb 2020
Gameball’s CTO Omar Alfar with Shopify Country Manager for Spain Kintxo Cortés at the Shopify Pursuit in Amsterdam in Feb 2020

Localization: The Gameball Story

When we first launched Gameball, we had a vision that we wanted to reach as many people as we could. We wanted e-commerce businesses regardless of location to be able to benefit from Gameball and its loyalty and rewards programs in a variety of languages.

Like any business, we started out with English. But within the first few months of our launch, we were able to add 2 more languages.

As of 15 January 2020 though, Gameball supports a total of 7 languages, namely:

  • English
  • Arabic
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
  • Polish  

We’re planning to add more but it’s a work in progress.

On 31 May 2020, our CPO Ahmed El Assy revealed that as part of our product expansion roadmap, the Gameball team launched one of our essential SaaS localization steps.

As mentioned, Gameball supports 9 languages. But now, we have localized our product dashboard to let store and mobile app owners configure and analyze their Gameball loyalty and engagement programs, not just in English but in French as well.

We are also working on having our dashboard in German, El Assy said.

“By March 2020, less than 5% of all Shopify apps are available in a language other than English, and now Gameball is a part of this initiative following one of Shopify’s 2020 highlights!” Gameball’s CPO concluded.

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