Bata Industrials was founded in the Czech Republic in the XIX Century as a shoe factory. As early as the 1930s, the company was active in Switzerland, Germany, England, France, Yugoslavia, Poland, India, and the Netherlands.
Today, Bata Industrials is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of safety shoes, with offices located all over the world. The organization acts on a global scale with an emphasis on local markets. We will investigate how this strategy is implemented on the Internet and how WPML (the WordPress multilingual plugin) helps them achieve their goals.
Each country where Bata Industrials operates has its own collection of shoes and local dealers.
This approach is reflected in the company’s online presence, as each country has its own local website.
When developing the pages, Bata Industrials requirements were that each local office must be able to edit and customize its complete website content. In addition, from a visitor’s perspective, they wanted to rank high in the local search-engine results.
Now, let’s take a closer look at one of the local sites to see how it’s built. We chose a Canadian website that needed to be developed bilingually, because citizens in Canada speak either French or English or, very rarely, both.
Perfect quartet — WordPress, WPML, WooCommerce & Enfold Theme
Before migrating to WordPress, the company used software that was expensive, inflexible, and SEO unfriendly. From our perspective, WordPress was a perfect choice for Bata Industrials’ website objectives, as it fully addressed those issues. Another argument for choosing WordPress was a vast community of developers and an impressive list of available professional plugins.
Similar principles were applied when deciding upon a theme. They looked for a theme that was powerful, reliable, and easy to use. On the other hand, it had to be compatible with WPML and WooCommerce.
Enfold was used as a framework for the Bata Industrials websites, which were developed as Enfold child themes.
“WPML is known as the best and most solid multilingual solution for WordPress. Our Internet agency, Sowmedia (https://www.sowmedia.nl), is experienced in using WPML. They recommended WPML because of its solid infrastructure and compatibility with many plugins and themes.”
Going multilingual the right way
Bata Industrials Canada is a complex website with quite a few plugins. The main challenge when creating the language versions was to maintain an overview of all the translation strings’ locations. Strings are located in plugin files, widgets, menus, products, attributes, taxonomies, etc.
Part of the website (menu, product catalog, and pages) was translated into French by the Canadian office. A professional translator translated all the strings in the plugins and the theme.
One can easily spot the custom WPML language switcher on the site. Language selection is combined with an interactive map of the world, allowing for local site access. It’s a smart navigation element providing expanded functionality.
The language switcher is built as a plugin, where information on local sites and available languages is stored in a central location. When a change is needed (i.e., Bata Industrials adds a new website or a language to a local site), they first update the repository, followed by updating the plugins on all of the local websites. This allows for easy synchronization between the sites, cuts down the update time, and increases the process reliability.
Bata Industrials needs to offer fully localized (unique) content for different countries. Therefore, they use a separate WordPress site for each country. They use WPML to translate sites for countries that have multiple languages. For example, the Bata Industrials’ Canadian website uses WPML with English and French.
A multilingual product catalog with WooCommerce and WPML
The most prominent feature on the page is the catalog presenting all types of shoes. It’s built upon WooCommerce and takes full advantage of the product filtering. A comparison module is implemented as well.
When the filters were first implemented, some of the filter lists were too long, and difficult for users to understand. To increase the usability, Bata Industrials decided to show the maximum number of items per category in the filter. They started this functionality with the YITH WooCommerce Ajax Navigation plugin and adjusted it to expand the filter category when the mouse hovered over it. Now, their clients have a much better overview of the available product filters.
Product comparison module
Bata Industrials offers a wide variety of shoes. These are specialized footgear with many different characteristics. The company needs to offer an easy way to compare different shoes, so their clients can choose the best model every time.
The product-comparison plugin was custom-made for Bata Industrials.
Product page and its attributes
Shoes have many different characteristics that are important to a client when deciding upon a purchase. They are stored as attributes in WooCommerce. Bata Industrials shows an icon image for each shoe characteristic to make it more appealing. Therefore, the developers adjusted the child theme CSS so each attribute had its own CSS class, allowing it to display a custom image.
When preparing this article, our guides on the site were Jos Wubbeling — Bata Industrials online marketer, and Erwin van Ginkel — SEO and strategy specialist from Sowmedia, the Dutch WordPress firm that developed this site.
The Bata Industrials website is a thoughtfully implemented multilingual site. They succeeded because they chose the right tools: WordPress, WPML, and the Enfold theme. They also made sure that the tools worked well together before actually starting the work.
Most importantly, this website is a vivid example of the business strategy that made Bata Industrials what it is today: a global leader backed up by its products and services, which are tailored to local needs.