Building multilingual e-commerce websites

Takahiro Miyagami  IT Project Manager

Today, companies in a wide variety of fields can conduct business online, and many firms — such as restaurants and apparel retailers — are not only selling products at their stores, but they also are building e-commerce websites to boost their sales.

However, for those who are considering building an e-commerce website to grow their business, Google searches for “e-commerce” and “online store” yield tons of results, potentially leaving you overwhelmed and uncertain about where to start. In addition, if you are looking to attract customers from overseas to your site, multilingualization and multi-currency support, as well as corresponding customer support, are also a must.

In this article, I would like to focus on some good resources for creating multilingual e-commerce websites.


The major e-commerce site platforms that support multilingualization are:
WordPress (using a plugin)
EC Cube

Most of these allow users to easily build e-commerce sites by letting them upload content into templates with basic settings, but there are limitations on what can be done with regard to design and functionality. However, the two platforms that offer the best options for design layout, function development and currency variety are WordPress and Magento — which we at Paradigm use most often for our clients.

Payment Systems

We recommend Stripe and PayPal as reliable payment options that offer services in multiple languages. Both are compatible with most e-commerce site platforms and are straightforward to set up. They can also be used to allow customers to make payments by credit card at physical stores with the point-of-sale systems Stripe Terminal or PayPal Card Reader. Additionally, since these payment services do not store credit card information in the company’s online store, they can be used safely and securely.

Linking to a POS

If you choose to build your e-commerce site on Magento, it can be used with the Magestore extension to become an online point of sale (POS). This launches a POS screen on your computer or iPad and allows customers to make payments in-store. It also lets you set the language. Since the Magestore extension is linked to the online store, the greatest advantage is that everything — including inventory records and customer information — can be managed consistently. For example, if a customer has already registered as a member online, you can link to the customer’s data at the POS when they make a make an in-store purchase and check their reward points and purchase history. Also, when an item is purchased at the store, the available stock on the online store is automatically updated.

Providing customer support

Responding effectively to customer inquiries are important when growing a business. If a customer is in a different country, you will need to respond to their inquiry in an appropriate way — and in their language. It is important to ensure that your e-commerce site allows customers to contact you in multiple languages, so you will need to consider how to provide multilingual support, through either an external system or a vendor. Creating an FAQ page in a number of different languages will reduce the number of inquiries you receive. A company that responds to customers promptly and politely communicates reliability and will increase repeat traffic on your site, something that translates into long-term business growth.

To conclude

Some companies are able to build their own online stores in-house, but many companies outsource to vendors that specialize in design and development. There are not many firms that can handle all of the necessary services, including branding, design, development, server management, operation management, and customer support in multiple languages. Paradigm has a proven track record in all of these areas, and I believe that our digital creative agency is in an ideal position to help many companies with their e-commerce needs.

If you’d like to get in touch to find out more about building an e-commerce website in Japan, please get in touch.