Discover the Top 5 Languages To Use In Your Online Business or Marketplace

September 29th, 2022 | 6 min read

All great relationships are founded on effective communication.

Yes, even business ones.

Especially online.

Like Tim Berners-Lee said, "The Web does not just connect machines; it connects people."

In the competitive digital world, how you present your offerings online directly impacts your business success -- and language is integral to that.

Language isn't just how people express themselves, it also affects how we behave on the Internet.

For example, those who tweet in Chinese can say more within Twitter's character limit than English users.

Similarly, Indonesians retweet five times more than the Japanese; and Germans like to use hashtags and share URLs.

The diversity of the online population must be factored into your platform design, which means that your website must be prepped to talk to your target audience in their own language.

Here are five of the best languages to use in your online marketplace.

English as Language of Classifieds and Online Marketplace Businesses

English ranks third in terms of the number of native speakers, behind Chinese and Spanish.

But it is the most spoken language in the world, and more importantly, it is considered the lingua franca of business.

How did it achieve this feat?

Let’s throw it back to the 18th century when Great Britain began developing new technologies and creating names for these scientific milestones; as a result, people had to learn English to keep up.

By the 19th century, it had risen to superpower status, and London turned into the financial capital of the world, making English the language of money.

Today, English is used by 25.9% of Internet users all over the world.

And it got to this status because it had a really big head start on all other languages; reportedly 80% of all the content online in the 90s was in English.

By 2015, this percentage went down to 55% -- but that still represents a huge share of the pie.

English is also used by multinational companies, even in countries where it's not even recognized as an official language, like France.

French food service company Sodexo adopted it as their business language to enable "collaborating across geographies", and many international companies in other countries do the same.

When it comes to your online marketplace, using English promises a slew of potential benefits, the least of which is that it's easier for your customers or sellers to connect with your business because they understand it, if they're located in North America.

Using English also helps you reach out to a global audience, as this language is an official language in many parts of the world.

Chinese as One of the Fastest Growing Online Marketplace Language

Did you know that about 16% of the world's population speaks Chinese?

As of 2020, Chinese (and we mean all of its varieties and dialects) is the most spoken native language, with 1.31 billion speakers.

And they're not all in China!

Back in the 19th century, some of the Chinese fled to neighboring countries to escape from poverty and unrest.

This led to over 6 million "foreign Chinese" in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand in 2005.

And in the United States, it is estimated that there are also about 6 million Chinese people.

Other countries where Chinese is spoken include Canada, the UK, Nigeria, Madagascar, and South Africa.

What does all of this mean for your online marketplace?

In 2021, China totaled the highest revenue in e-commerce sales at 1,543 billion dollars -- surpassing, yes, the United States.

And according to Statista, this might not slow down soon, as they predict a compound annual growth rate of 7% for the Chinese e-commerce market until 2025.

Chinese consumers often start their product searches on online marketplaces.

In fact, Marriott International saw a triple increase in year-over-year revenue in 2019 from their Alibaba channel.

Similarly, Lululemon enjoyed a 175% growth in sales by hosting their products on Tmall Global.

Also, e-commerce sales in the Chinese market hardly lagged during the pandemic.

According to the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing, online sales in China jumped up by about 9% from February to May in 2020, driven mostly by the demand for medical supplies, groceries, and consumer essentials.

Using Chinese on your online marketplace language (or making it available as an option) will bring your offerings to this ready market.

73% of online shoppers want to read product reviews in their language, and 65% of them like their content in their language, even if its quality is sub-par.

Spanish as the Third Most Used Language for Online Marketplaces

Spanish is the third most used language on the Internet, representing almost 8% of worldwide users.

This translates to almost 560 million people all over the globe, with 460 million of them native speakers.

It is the official or majority language in 20 states and territories, including Mexico, Peru, Spain, Argentina, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Additionally, it has spawned creole languages, such as Papiamento in Aruba, Curacao, and the Carribean Netherlands, as well as Chavacano in the Philippines.

Spanish is also spoken in Belize, Andorra, and the United States.

In fact, in the US, it is the most common non-English language spoken, with 13% of the population speaking it at home.

This gives the US the second biggest Spanish-speaking population in the world, behind Mexico.

And by 2050, it's forecasted that one in three people in the US will speak Spanish.

Why use Spanish in your online marketplace?

Spanish-speaking e-commerce users make a lot of purchases online.

In Latin America alone, online retail sales totaled about 85 billion US dollars in 2020.

Similarly, in Spain, Statista forecasts that revenues in the e-commerce market will reach over 41 billion dollars in 2022.

And in the United States, a Nielsen survey has found that Latinos seek out Spanish content, even if it isn't their primary language.

More than 50 million impressions from Spanish-language content, for instance, came from English-speaking Hispanics.

Incorporating this language into your online marketplace might just be the vessel that you need to generate interest and close sales from this demographic.

Arabic for Your Online Marketplace? 

Descended from the Proto-Semitic language, Arabic is spoken by 446 million people.

Majority of its native speakers live in the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

But it's also spoken in countries where Arab migrants have resettled over the years, such as Southeast Asia, northern and central Europe, and the United States.

This makes it the sixth most spoken language in the world, with 274 million speakers.

And on the Internet, it's the fourth most frequently used language; 5.2% of the entire online population use Arabic, according to Statista.

Tapping this market might lead to a potential goldmine for your online marketplace.

From 2015 to 2020, e-commerce sales in the Gulf states quadrupled from 5 billion to 20 billion dollars.

In the United Arab Emirates, in particular, e-commerce sales accounted for 10 percent of total retail sales in 2020, at $3.9 billion.

And international retailers have discovered that localization and language are important to reaping sales from this market.

Today, it is estimated that less than 1% of all online content is in Arabic.


Malay has been the lingua franca of the Malay archipelago since the 15th century, covering coutries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

According to Babbel, it is spoken by 290 million speakers, which makes it the 9th most spoken language in the world.

Malay is considered a macrolanguage with various dialects and distinct language families.

Bahasa Indonesia, for example, is a standardized version of Malay and serves as the main language of more than 75 million people in the world, and the second language of 140 million more.

Malay is the official language in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore.

On the Internet, its Indonesian and Malaysian dialects are used by 4.3% of the online population.

How to Use All These Languages In Your Online Marketplace

Creating one online marketplace that uses each of these languages is very possible. 

How? Multilingual content.

Translating your content into various languages can yield significant benefits, foremost of which is higher website traffic.

When Neil Patel translated his website content into 82 languages, he saw a 47% increase in the number of people who visit his website.

Similarly, translations help curb the risk for profit losses over misunderstandings; according to market data, over $2 billion are lost over language and cultural barriers, every year.

Multilingual content can also promote more brand awareness and create positive experiences for your customers.

This makes investing in marketplace software with multilingual support a must.

You’ll be able to reach more people -- wherever they may be in the world -- and relate to them in their own language.

Leverage the power of languages for your online marketplace today. 

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