Selling your Product in China: Benefits of Software Localization

One of the highly ignored strategies in marketing a software product is localization. While companies spend more money on developing it, only a handful of companies seriously take the roadmap of software localization. The cost, culture, and language are possible barriers, especially for foreign companies that target Chinese enterprise users and end-users. Furthermore, software localization is beyond mere literal translation of words and phrases into Simplified Chinese. It requires extensive skills of professional native speakers and software specialists to follow a detailed software localization workflow to end up with uncompromised codes and strings of the final product, which should be saleable and marketable to the desired target audience. According to APCO worldwide report, “China’s software market has expanded quickly over the past few years, with particularly strong growth in Beijing, Dalian, Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces.” On the other hand, the enterprise software market is also expected to rise. “China is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing enterprise software market over the next three years. Enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting, and supply chain management (SCM) software are the biggest market sectors.”

Reaching to a growing and thriving segmented market

While Beijing has been traditionally marked as the center of China’s software market, Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Dalian city are also considered as emerging growth hubs of enterprise software users. Foreign companies that plan to license their software in China should also consider reaching out to the market in these regions. Gartner, the leading research company, said, “China remains one of the fastest-growing software markets in the world, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of 14.6% through 2013.” Before licensing, it is highly recommended that these foreign companies should consider these: intellectual property rights concerns, software localization, distribution channels, and technical support. Nonetheless, if the software is localized according to the preferences and dialect of the abovementioned provinces and cities, a company can effectively reach out these markets.

Users can correctly understand and use your product

In China, the widely used spoken language is Mandarin, while the written form is Simplified Chinese. Software localization doesn’t necessarily mean that your software is translated into Chinese only. It should be tailored to the cultural and linguistic requirements, including the design, the texts (take note that the Chinese language is read from right to left), user interface (the form of menus, dialog boxes, and cursor shapes), and colors. The software designed for European or Canadian markets won’t have the same appeal to the Chinese audience. If the software is localized Simplified Chinese or any of the dialect used in emerging markets that you want to target, the users can correctly understand and manage the software. As they seamlessly enjoy the rich features of the product in their mother tongue, it is easier for them to recommend your product to others.

Brand exposure and local social/community contribution

Software localization will give more exposure to your brand name (both enterprise and public consumers) to the local market such as the regions in China, which are considered as emerging growth hubs of the software industry. While only a few foreign companies invest in this area, the right strategic localization will yield results in the long run. CheckLight, an Israeli-based company that manufactures early warning solutions for water contamination has proprietary-based kits including unique monitoring systems and products. To introduce the products in China, the company collaborated with Limpid for Chinese web localization, translation of manuals and promotional copies for exhibitions, and software localization of its biological monitor and portable pollutant detection systems. The efforts of localization and translation contributed to the company’s becoming an industry leader in the Chinese water monitoring market. The products were used in Yangtze’s tributaries in western Shanghai, which made a significant contribution in the community and the local water environment. Software localization is not the only key for success in the Chinese market. It is a contributing factor, but behind the statistics proving the profitability of the market, there are still barriers and concerns that should be considered before diving in the local market. One of the surest ways to get in the Chinese market is to partner with a homegrown company with the same industry and size. The business partner should be familiar with China market and the condition of the overall software industry.