Amazon’s Investment in Machine Translation Reveals the Increasing Importance of Language Services

Amazon, the biggest retailer in the world, is doubling down on machine translation, and these efforts really prove how important language services have become.

Because of the retailer’s translation efforts so far, shoppers in the U.S. can access the site in Spanish, and for shoppers in Germany, the site is available in English, Dutch, Polish, or Turkish. Amazon plans to continue developing machine translation services to compete with Google and Microsoft.

The decision to offer a Spanish-language experience on its site reflects an awareness that over 40 million people in the United States speak Spanish natively. Overall, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home, and Amazon knows that providing content to these consumers in their native language is a powerful draw.

The company is making strong moves into other international markets as well, and that means providing service in a lot of different languages. For example, in India, Amazon must not only produce general content in several languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Malayalam, and Tamil, but also needs to provide fast translations in order to connect sellers who speak one language with buyers who speak one of the 700 other languages spoken in the country.

The company is probably betting that machine translation isn’t just going to come in handy for its own business either. As of 2015, Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosted over 1 million active users, and many of the companies using AWS attract buyers from all over the world.

That all being said, even if machine translation were currently up to snuff – and it isn’t – translation by itself won’t cut it. Information needs to be localized, and providing a great customer experience means doing more than putting together a solid website. Interpreters and bilingual staff are necessary to connect with clients in person, over the phone, or via video.

Language services, like those provided by CLI, allow U.S. companies, no matter their size, to effectively market to and communicate with customers in their preferred language.

To find out more about how companies can strategically leverage non-English speaking clients, download our guide to using language services to optimize your business for the international market.