The answer is simple: Amazon, Alibaba and eBay develop machine translation to sell more. eBay is already selling more by using machine translation (MT). But if these companies will sell more, who will sell less?

It is clear that the global, cross-border e-commerce giants Amazon, Alibaba and eBay want to expand to new languages and to new countries. The most widely-spoken languages such as English, Chinese, German, etc. are no longer sufficient for them and they will start supporting new, less-spoken languages.

Also European Commission is starting to realize the importance of the barriers that language sets to cross-border trade, i.e. to “Digital Single Market”. After all, it is well known that if people don’t understand, they won’t buy. In cross-border trade with world-wide payment solutions and delivery services the language is the biggest obstacle to trade. EU Commissioner Andrus Ansip rightly says “overcoming language barriers is vital for building the Digital Single Market”. We could not agree more!

Clearly the importance of language as a protecting barrier will diminish in the future. The e-commerce companies in smaller language markets will soon feel the competition from Amazon, Alibaba and eBay. The smaller e-commerce companies will need to react fast and make their first move quickly.


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