Translating Fast Fashion

We recently developed a solution for a very large European retailer to help them to localise/translate all of their packaging for their dynamic range of clothing.

The challenge in this space is to provide translation that is ‘on trend’, error free and makes best use of all the previously translated material, which helps to dramatically lower the unit cost per word to translate. When we reviewed the existing translation solution we found that the translation was being stored on a shared excel sheet in head office.

The theory was great, if they’d translated something once then that translation could be re-used for future packaging at (virtually) zero cost. But in practice it meant that no one was responsible for the data and the spreadsheet had to be emailed around people outside of the ‘loop’. Comments and suggestions were not imported into the master list, the context of the translation was often wrong and the quality of the translation never really improved over time.

A translation grid.

The process involved approximately, 20 buyers, 8 print companies, hundreds of manufacturers, designers, project managers and other stakeholders located all over the world. We consulted with as many of these stakeholders as we could (most electronically) and after consultation the best solution for the client was to:

  1. Proof the existing translation memory (i.e. the xls file) and amend
  2. Convert the excel file to a dataset
  3. Put a web front end on it, make it searchable
  4. Host it online
  5. Link it to our memoQ server and update it using professional translators

So that’s exactly what we did. The process now allows all users of the system to check all previously validated translated material and re-use it at zero cost.

Our online translation search engine reduces translation time by 25%


If the requested term cannot be found in the translation database (or library) then a new request for a 24 or 48 hour translation service can be placed in the system.

its as easy as a click to request a new translation

Once the new translation is completed it’s automatically added to the database/library so that it can be used as many times needed for free in the future. Professional translators oversee and routinely monitor all data that’s in this system keeping it all up to date with current legislation.

This process is now completely integrated into the supply chain and has reduced the critical path by one whole week and there has not been a need for over print stickers to be used since this system was put in 6 months ago.  Our client is very happy.

If you have a similar issue or just want to talk about this – I’ll be happy to set up a webex with you. Email me for more details. (or you can find me on all the usual social media channels).




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