Written on 10 January, 2020

When exporting, ‘speaking’ the language of the customer can be essential for success. For this reason, translation and localisation both have an important role to play here. But, in order to be successful when introducing products to a foreign market, we need to be aware of the linguistic challenges inherent to this process.

At present, Germany has a population of approximately 82 million, with only around 50% of people able to converse in the English language. German is thus by far the most commonly used language when conducting business and is preferred by many, especially at the beginning of business relations. Furthermore, Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world and imports goods with a total value of USD 1,060,672 million per year, mainly from China, the Netherlands, France and North America.

Key points to consider when exporting to GermanyLanguage and culture

German people value their ‘Pünktlichkeit und Ordnung’ (punctuality and order) and this is often key to any kind of success for foreign companies looking to export their products to the German market. It is also crucial to be formal and to address them by their surname, rather than being overly colloquial; you should adjust to what your business partners feel most comfortable with.

Furthermore, any logos and images on the products themselves should be localised to prevent any cultural missteps and be respectful of local culture. Be aware of customs and values as well as any business practices. It’s not just a stereotype – Germans really do value innovation and productivity!Legal framework

Regulations and bureaucracy can be a big hurdle for any company wishing to export their products and services to the German market. While many safety regulations are controlled by the EU, different member states often have their own laws relating to safety and environmental concerns, as well as labelling and packaging requirements, which also need to be observed.

Additionally, relationships and agreements with distributors need to be considered, in order to make sure that goods are transported in a safe manner. Exporters will also have to ensure that the requirements of foreign customers are met with regard to the packaging and labelling of products.

Of course, local laws and regulations relating to financial paperwork and the quality of the products themselves have to be adhered to as well. These kinds of requirements are often only available in the native language of the country, and to understand them you will need professional translation services.Customer support

Another vital area of your export plan where translation should be considered is customer support; after all, the needs of overseas customers are equally as important as those in your domestic market. This can become an obstacle if you do not speak the language – providing customers with well translated websites and offering support services in their native language can go a long way in creating a successful export strategy.

Support from a professional translation agency

If you want to expand your business in Germany, make sure cultural and language barriers don’t limit your reach. Having a trusted translation partner such as Surrey Translation Bureau will ensure your message is in the right language and tone to make a positive impact on your target market.

With the recent pandemic and most countries, including Germany, experiencing an impact on business activities, it might be worthwhile to work on an export plan based on economic forecasts, rather than past trends. Also, seek support and advice from reliable bodies such as the Department of International Trade (DIT) to minimise the detrimental impact of the pandemic.

Get in touch with the STB team to see how their English to German or German to English translation service can help you expand your business in Germany.

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