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eBay up the ante with auto Italian Title translation

By Dan Wilson March 5, 2015 - 10:21 am

eBay seems to be experimenting with translation. A Tamebay reader has been in touch to say that items that he’s selling on eBay UK, with an Italian shipping option, now have translated titles on eBay Italy in Italian. He wasn’t consulted.

Here’s the UK version of the title.

Italian english

And on eBay Italy it looks like this. (And as you can see in the translated version, there is an option to see the original version of the title in English.)

italian with option

It’s good that eBay is being proactive. Cross-border trade is a huge opportunity and eBay should be greasing the wheels. But, as our correspondent notes: how can we judge the accuracy of such translations and shouldn’t sellers have the option as to whether such translations are made? So much is lost in translation and what happens when there is a disagreement that could hang upon the nuanced meaning of a single word?

There are stacks of translation services out there. And it seems that these things are best done with human oversight so that accuracy can be assured. Otherwise, my hovercraft is full of eels.

How do you feel about auto-translated listings?

  • 2 years ago

    Yes, they’ve been at my listings too. Selected products have been translated into Spanish and German; they would have done Italian too but I opted not to sell there after repeated delivery failures. I had a phone call about this, and they are apparently being translated by humans – what a job!! Some elements of mine are questionable, for example the registered title of a product we’re selling is ‘Monarchy’, not a translated version of the same. All very intriguing, and I’m happy to give it a go for now.

  • Gary
    2 years ago

    With ebay seemingly taking a proactive role in everything then why should feedback be targeted at an individual level?

  • Rai
    2 years ago

    Having been part of the last 2 ebay pilot schemes for translated listings onto the european channels I am skeptical as to how long this will last. Even when these projects seem to be going well you find out a couple months down the road its closing up shop.

  • JD
    2 years ago

    This has serious implications in specialist fields where the translator has no appreciation of that specialist field.

    In specialist fields buyers usually have no need for a translation.

  • Damian
    2 years ago

    This stomps all over the toes of the webinterpret program that ebay pestered me into joining and paying an annual fee for.

  • ifellow
    2 years ago

    I think ebay have looked at the figures and seen sales in Italy are really low from perhaps Italian and foreign sellers and have seen it as a potential growth area. The problem is off course alot of sellers do not ship there due to delivery or trust issues.

    • Jason B
      2 years ago

      I agree about the problem with italian post problems but has anyone tried the Global Shipping Programme? CS talk it up but i wondered if buyers/sellers use it and find it works.

  • Ian A
    2 years ago

    Another great idea from the corporate eBay think tank

    Surely eBay have bigger issues to address like the nonsense manipulative search engine and general poor performance, ‘customers haven’t come back as quick as we expected after password issues’

    The majority of European buyers speak English and when they message me in another language Google translate usually suffices to compete a deal.

  • 2 years ago

    We are currently discussing whether we should sign up with WebInterpret for our international sales, but if eBay are going to be rolling this out then we might put that off to save some money.

    We currently only have the Italian translations, but if we get French and German translations later down the line then that will save us a lot of time and money.

  • Martin
    2 years ago

    If experience of Webinterpret is anything to go by, then translations of specialist products is a concern. Translation was poor with missed elements and wrong words. I wouldn’t be confident ebay could do any better.

    Webinterpret even offered me a second trial. I accepted to see if there was an improvement, but never heard another word from them.

  • 2 years ago

    I doubt the translation is done by humans. Like JD said, it would require a lot of translators that need to be experienced in certain fields, like medical or engineering. If only the titles are translated, my guess is that they use machine translation. Ebay listing titles are usually concise and devoid of nuances. Like the example above, they just state simple specs with simple words. Such a task is easily translated by a software.

  • 2 years ago

    WebInterpret has over 500 translators manually translating on average 1 million entries every month (Titles, Categories and Item Specifics). We had about 18 million human translations last year, and that’s not including Item Descriptions – a source of contention because they are generated using a mechanism. If every item was translated manually in every available language, eBay would become the biggest translation project in human history.
    @Martin. Contact the sales department: http://www.webinterpret.com/company/contact/

  • 2 years ago

    Translating those titles shouldn’t require a professional translator. Machine translation can handle the type of text that is used in Ebay listing titles. The titles are normally just a few words put together that do not require context to be understood.

  • 2 years ago

    Because of the scope of work required to create entirely new foreign listings, what eBay does is called “Basic international selling” – a form of passive listing where eBay automatically translates original listings with a foreign delivery option. Such listings have limited visibility. As eBay puts it, the listings are shown “if buyer chooses to include international listings in search results”. What WebInterpret does is “Advanced international selling”, where we create separately translated listings on foreign eBay sites, thus guaranteeing visibility to foreign buyers and driving more sales.

    More on this in eBay’s seller Centre here: http://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/comparing-international-selling-options

  • Jonah
    2 years ago

    I sell specialised antique collectables. I really hate shipping to Spain and Italy as items can mysteriously disappear even with tracking.
    Question- Who will be responsible for the issue when a title is translated incorrectly- it’s bound to happen even with the best will in the world it could create huge problems.
    Answer- the seller of course!

  • Jason B
    2 years ago

    I wish eBay would focus on Asia and offer translation for products listed on those sites. I list worldwide and get regular sales from English speaking countries and Europe, I have plenty of Russian sales too but i rarely but occasionally get sales from Hong Kong, Philippines, South Korea and would love to pick up sales from China.

    Another thought, what if you sell records/Cds, I recently used the facebook translation for a post from a Spanish friend who had written ‘Congratulations’ but it was translated to ‘Happy Birthday’, so would this change the title of say Cliff Richards Congratulations for example and what about band names? Crowded House could become Full House?

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