Lionbridge has become a translation partner for eBay as part of eBay's European Cross Border Trade initiative, and the Lionbridge onDemand Translation API is now integrated with some of the most popular software platforms used by eBay merchants to manage their product listings.
According to Lionbridge, cross-border trade in Europe is expected to hit $130 billion by the end of the decade, but with dozens of languages spoken in the region, it can be difficult for merchants to capitalize on the opportunity. As Eben Sermon, eBay's senior director of international trade, noted, "We know that the language barrier is a very real obstacle for businesses looking to sell in to international markets."
That's where use of the Lionbridge's RESTful onDemand Translation API comes in. Eight of the largest e-commerce platforms eBay merchants use to manage their product listings — Afterbuy, ChannelAdvisor, eFulfillment, eSellerPro, 4Sellers, Linnworks, M2E Pro (Magento) and PlentyMarkets — have integrated the API into their platforms, enabling merchants to quickly and seamlessly translate their product listings into local languages without using another piece of software or online service.
The Lionbridge onDemand Translation API, which saw its general availability release earlier this year, supports translation for a variety of content types, including text, graphics and video, and offers multiple quality types. Depending on a user's needs and budget, the API supports machine translation, machine translation with a post-translation human edit, crowdsourced translation and professional translation.
Lionbridge, which bills itself as the largest translation company in the world, says it has more than 100,000 translators and is capable of translating content for more than 70 locales.
Translation as a Feature, APIs as a Prerequisite for Success
According to Lionbridge CMO Marc Osofsky, "Translation is becoming a feature in e-commerce platforms. This program is an example of what the future holds for global e-commerce."
Indeed, the integration of the Lionbridge API into an e-commerce platform highlights how many services, such as translation, are often best delivered as a part of a broader solution. While translation services can be delivered in a standalone fashion, doing so is often not very efficient. For eBay merchants specifically, inefficiency can significantly change the overall economics of cross-border trade, reducing its attractiveness. In some cases, the availability of a API-based service like Lionbridge's could conceivably mean the difference between a merchant choosing to selling across borders or not.
Given the plethora of opportunities for integrating translation into existing applications, such as e-commerce, it's no surprise that much of the innovation in the translation space has been focused on APIs, with established companies like Lionbridge as well as upstarts like Unbabel competing to ensure that their APIs power the most important integrations. At some point, it wouldn't be surprising to see APIs driving a significant amount of the translation volume, meaning that to compete in this market, an API would no longer be a competitive advantage but a prerequisite.