It pays to offer what you have to sell in the language your customers speak. This can go beyond the issue of comprehension and communication: often, selling is about relationships and good will. When people can find out about a product as well as order it in their own language, they are more likely to have a positive shopping experience. If they feel you understand them, you will gain their trust. If you can solve whatever issues they have in their language, this adds to the relationship.
Surprisingly, there are major retailers in Canada with English-only websites who operate nationwide. Who fills orders in French-language areas? Are there enough people customers can speak to in French to resolve problems?
According to an article in the Globe and Mail published earlier this year*, French-language customers interacting online with major retailers in Canada through social media such as Facebook feel ignored and less well-served than their English-language counterparts. As a result, Francophone Quebeckers are more likely to stop following brands on Facebook. This is despite the fact that almost 70 per cent of French-language followers read brand messages on Facebook, compared to just 16 per cent in English-speaking areas.
Meanwhile, in Switzerland alone, there are four official languages and according to a study by specialist François Grin, this translates into a competitive advantage of $50 billion a year**.
An online presence in French is, quite simply, a smart business move.
** Source: The Accent membership program, New Brunswick