Online Retailers Eager to Capture Hispanic Holiday Dollars

Large online retailers, such as Crutchfield, PUMA, Sears, and Illuminations, are translating their websites into Spanish this holiday season to attract Hispanics and their loyal dollars. MotionPoint Corporation has developed technology to simplify the translation process so that companies no longer have to develop entirely new websites for Spanish-speaking consumers. Will Fleming, President and CEO of MotionPoint, which has been helping companies translate their English sites into Spanish for the past 3 years, says business has grown six fold over the past year. MotionPoint currently has 100 clients. Fleming says more and more retailers are translating their sites. “I think it took retailers a little longer because they have some of the most complex English sites. A lot of them were still working on perfecting their general market sites,” explains Fleming.

Crutchfield consumer electronics, a mail order and online retailer, has had a bilingual sales staff for the past 6 years, but only this September did they translate their website into Spanish. Clara Lyons, Bilingual Sales Advisor for Crutchfield, says the website was developed in response to customer demand. “We've had Spanish-speaking customers for a long time. Our bilingual phone staff has grown from 3 to 12 and we keep increasing our hours. We knew our customers wanted a Spanish-language site.”

Garrett Mathews, Internet Marketing Manager at Crutchfield, says they're running ads in magazines and on the Internet in order to drive new Spanish-speaking consumers to their site. Crutchfield has placed ads in Automundo, ESPN Deportes, Motortrend en español, Maxim en español, National Geographic en español magazines, as well as banners on AOL Latino and MSN Latino and ads on search engines with Spanish key words including Que Pasa?, Google and Yahoo. “We're not committing a massive amount to Hispanic advertising yet,” said Mathews. “We want to look carefully at the return on investment before we pour a huge amount of money into advertising.” Currently Hispanic sales levels are less than 9% of Crutchfield's total company sales, but Mathews says he expects stronger percentage growth in this area than in their core business in the near future. Although call volume for November is the highest it has ever been, Mathews says the boost in sales since launching the Spanish website hasn't been earth shattering. He says they will need a couple of months to get a good read.

Although Crutchfield does not ship internationally, almost 25% of their business comes from Latin America. “People make orders and have them delivered to relatives and friends in the U.S. and then they ship the products to Latin America,” says Bilingual Sales Advisor Clara Lyons. Lyons says most large consumer electronics retailers don't have Spanish-language websites or Spanish-speaking personnel. “Best Buy and Circuit City have phone numbers you can call for customer service in Spanish, but when you call there's no one there who can speak Spanish.” Lyons says that about 70% of their Spanish-speaking customers use credit cards. The other 30% pay by Western Union or mail in their payment.