Because 50% of all online sales will take place outside of the U.S. by 2004, American companies must implement multilingual Web sites, says a report from Forrester Research. "When offered in multiple languages, customer service features like product data sheets and technical FAQs provide differentiation, build brand loyalty and cut support costs," says Eric Schmitt, an analyst at Forrester. Companies should build a global site infrastructure that includes a core set of software applications that can be customized for any language or country, Forrester says. The Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm interviewed 27 U.S.-based multilingual Web site owners that target consumers and businesses for "The Multilingual Site Blueprint" report. The majority of those surveyed have had a non-English presence in place for at least 12 months, says the report.
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