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Localization Strategy and International Success: iHerb Crosses the Chasm

The Challenge

iHerb is a leader and innovator in the online retail space. With both committed personnel and excellent instincts around international expansion, iHerb understood the need to optimize its localization processes. They knew that a successful localization program was a central element in capturing new markets.

Similar to other companies, iHerb’s localization journey started in a somewhat reactive fashion. They quickly realized the need to tackle each of its specific challenges. It was time to reap the financial benefits of a well-managed, centralized, and scalable localization operation.

The Solution

QualityStrategyProcess AutomationInnovative Staffing

Quality

iHerb dove in with localization quality. The newly minted localization quality program provided a core understanding of two things:

  • The number and root cause of language bugs
  • A quantitative way to measure the financial success of language quality improvement

Strategy

From this foundational understanding, iHerb took on the greater task of creating a strategic localization plan. The iHerb team knew that it needed a collaborative partner who could poke, prod, and make suggestions around a more optimized localization path. They selected Akorbi, one of the largest woman-owned Language Service Providers, to fulfill those partnership requirements.

Process Automation

iHerb’s development teams strengthened the partnership by becoming increasingly in sync and in touch with the Akorbi team. This led to discussions and the eventual implementation of automated (truly “no touch”) workflows. Armed with a big-picture view of its global workflow, iHerb continues its technology-enabled localization process optimization.

Innovative Staffing

When international success spurred additional actions around localization resourcing, iHerb made a truly outside-the-box leap. They realized that its localization partner could easily scale to fulfill the new and varied localization tasks that stemmed from its global success. iHerb relied on its partner to provide the experienced, committed, and savvy personnel required to maintain its localization and global growth.

Throughout the journey to optimized localization, communication between iHerb and Akorbi was a key ingredient. Through it, iHerb gained an understanding of how to apply localization best practices and discipline in a way that matched its own unique needs.

"Akorbi is not an ordinary vendor. Akorbi is an extension of our team."

- Lead Project Manager, iHerb

The Results

iHerb’s attention to localization detail paid dividends. Since the time of their enhanced localization focus, sales for Portuguese went up by 31%, Spanish by 14% and German by 10%. Web traffic on localized sites increased by 95% for Portuguese, 92% for Spanish and 60% for German.

iHerb acted on its instinct that these markets would play a major role in the company’s greater growth. They backed up this belief with investments in localization – quality, strategy, process automation, innovative staffing, and partnership – and turned theory into solid, tangible growth.

partnership graphic

A few interesting examples of the many tangible successes of the iHerb/Akorbi partnership include:

Market Compliance Challenge

The Japanese market required special handling and thought. To successfully overcome the challenges posed by this very strict product/market environment, Akorbi embedded a Japanese compliance audit into the localization workflow.

Emergency Response Action

When a sensitive locale quickly changed its language/locale requirements, quick and precise action was necessary. The partnership ensured that all product web content was localized within a few days, preventing a total business shutdown.

The Future

Via the unique partnership, Akorbi continues to provide consultancy on language strategies for future markets. Together, iHerb and Akorbi look forward to imagining and conquering ever loftier localization challenges.

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