eBay Introduces Translation Service in Japan

Auction site targets 'large untapped market.'

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- Mar 31, 2009

eBay will begin a translation service for Japanese sellers this week, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Sellers on eBay's Japanese site, Sekaimon, who want to offer their items on English-language eBay sites will be able type descriptions of up to 200 Japanese characters and get them translated within a day for about $12.34. They can then post items on eBay's sites in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

"We have a large untapped market in Japan, and people were clamoring for it," says eBay spokeswoman Heather Lowles.

The service will encourage cross-border trade, something eBay has been pushing for, notes eBay CEO John Donahoe in reports. International sales account for 54 percent of eBay's total revenue, and Japan is the second-largest market in the online world.

"One of the main barriers to cross-border trade is language," notes Ryan Miller, president of MerchantRun Inc., a company that provides translation software to eBay, in reports.

Translations from Japanese to English will also be available. eBay officials say the new service will introduce more Japanese products to eBay sites.

And there appears to be a demand for such products, according to a survey by the Japan America Society of Southern California, a 100-year-old organization that aims to build relationships between Japanese and American people. Americans ranked Japan as a leader in electronics, video games and car products (with percentages of 62 percent, 54 percent and 52 percent, respectively), the survey reports. Sixty-seven percent of respondents say Japanese products are known for quality, reliability and innovation.

MerchantRun offers a translation service for eBay sellers in China, where the auction site has grown tremendously. Other translation services may come in the future, says Miller. He says MerchantRun is working on similar translating services for more than 20 languages.

Lowles notes that eBay may consider broadening the translation services to sites in other countries, depending on how well-received the Japanese program is. "We're just kind of starting with Japan," she says.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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