Best Practices in English to German Translations and Localization

Aug 25, 2023



Amazon Germany is the second biggest marketplace right after Amazon US – so expansion to this robust marketplace is a very good idea. You’ll need a firm grasp of English to German translations and localization in order to make an impact, though.

With over 100 million German speakers worldwide, understanding the German-speaking market is key. Industries like technology, automotive, healthcare, renewable energy, and agriculture hold promise for US companies in this market. However, translating content related to these industries requires knowledge of specific terminology and jargon.

Grammar, sentence structure, cultural nuances, and idiomatic expressions can also pose challenges. That’s why working with a professional translator is essential. Translation software and tools can assist with accuracy and consistency, but having native German speakers review and edit the translated text is vital.

By collaborating with native speakers and subject matter experts, conducting thorough research, and delivering translations in a timely manner, you can ensure effective communication and success in the German market.

English to German Translations and Expanding to Amazon.de

If you’re considering expanding your Amazon business to Amazon.de, it’s important to understand the current health of the German e-Commerce market.

Current health of the German e-Commerce market

In 2021, Germany had the biggest e-Commerce consumer base, with 62.1 million  online shoppers, according to this report by Statista. It’s the second largest e-Commerce market in Europe, lagging behind the UK, with an estimated market size of $113.6 billion.

As of 2020, Amazon.de, otto.de, zalando.de, mediamarket.de and lidl.de share 47% of the German e-Commerce market.The majority of online shoppers frequently buy items such as apparel (76%), footwear (73%), food and beverages (69%), consumer gadgets (61%), books, films, and games (58%), as well as healthcare goods (56%). By 2025, it’s anticipated that toys and DIY items will gain increasing importance in online shopping. When it comes to price sensitivity, consumers are most cautious in the realms of clothing and food. Conversely, luxury purchases are most prevalent in the smartphone and shoe categories.

Current standing of Amazon.de and forecast for the future

Launched in 1998, Amazon.de is the top eCommerce site in Germany, followed by eBay, otto.de. Zalando, Media Markt, Lidl, and others. As of May 2021, estimated monthly traffic stood at 434.5 million visits. Also, Amazon.de offers next-day delivery – one of the first online stores that offered this benefit. Furthermore, Amazon invested almost 40 billion euros in Germany between 2010 and 2020 – with over 10 billion euros in 2020 alone.

Check these additional reasons why expanding to Amazon.de is a good idea:

  • Robust German Market: High consumer spending makes Germany an ideal target for vendors.
  • Western Marketing Resonates: Germans are more receptive to Western marketing strategies, unlike consumers in countries like Japan.(Just be sure that you localize marketing efforts for the German mentality, which, while still Western, is very different from the American buying style)
  • High Demand, Low Competition: Germany offers a lucrative landscape for Amazon sellers due to high consumer demand and relatively low market competition.
  • E-commerce Popularity: A significant 84% of Germans regularly shop on Amazon, providing a stable and high-potential marketplace.
  • Quality Over Price: German consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality products, contributing to higher revenue streams on platforms like Amazon.de.

Amazon.de also accepts payment in many different currencies, which is very convenient for Germans living in Portugal, the Nordic peninsula, the Balkans, and so forth.

There is incredible potential awaiting every seller in Amazon.de – it’s definitely a market worth looking into.

Challenges faced when translating from English

When trying to navigate English to German translations, you may face challenges that should not be overlooked. It’s crucial to avoid relying solely on machine translations, as they often lack accuracy and nuance.

Additionally, be prepared for long German sentences and compound words. This can require careful consideration and adaptation to ensure clarity and readability in the English translation.

Don’t use machine translations

Avoid using machine translations for English to German translations. You don’t want to risk inaccurate and unreliable results when it comes to capturing the nuances and cultural context of the German language.

Machine translations lack the ability to understand idiomatic expressions, regional variations, and the subtle differences in grammar and syntax.  To ensure accurate and high-quality translations, it is essential to work with professional translators who have a deep understanding of the German language and culture.

Long German sentences and compound words

Embrace the challenge of navigating through long, intricate German sentences and compound words that can make the translation process both fascinating and complex.

German is known for its lengthy sentences that can contain multiple clauses and subclauses, requiring careful attention to maintain clarity and coherence. Additionally, compound words in German can be extensive, combining multiple words into a single unit.

When translating a listing from English to German, expect that the character count of your title, bullets, and backend will increase. You’ll have to work closely with a designer to make sure that the design integrity of your images and A+ stays consistent even if the number of letters will increase once the text is translated into German.

Restrictions in strict Amazon Germany

When translating to German for strict Amazon Germany, there are certain restrictions to consider. One challenge is dealing with brand names that are common words in English, as they may have a different meaning or cultural connotation in German.

Brand names that are common words in English

It’s important to be mindful of brand names that are common words in English when translating to German. German language has its own vocabulary and cultural context, which can lead to misunderstandings or unintended meanings when translating brand names. It’s important to carefully adapt these brand names to avoid any misunderstandings or negative associations. Take for example Fiberglass – in any other country across the world, the word is considered a common noun, but in Germany, Fiberglass is a brand name, and your listing won’t be uploaded if you include this brand

Some common English words may have different connotations or associations in German. It’s crucial to research and adapt brand names to ensure they resonate with the German-speaking audience and align with the intended brand image.

Context and nuances

Understand the importance of context and nuances to create accurate and culturally resonant translations for the German-speaking audience. German language relies heavily on context, and the meaning of a word can change depending on the surrounding sentence or paragraph.

Pay attention to cultural nuances and idiomatic expressions to ensure that the translated text is both accurate and culturally appropriate. By understanding the context and nuances, you can deliver translations that effectively communicate the intended message to the German-speaking audience. Getting a native translator is absolutely necessary for this task; a native can throw in common idioms that would resonate with the target customer.

For instance, if you’re selling bed linens, you might want to say that the soft cloth will help you “sleep like a groundhog” – or schlafen wie ein Murmeltier – which in English is better translated as “sleep like a log.”

Or perhaps, you’d want to invite a customer to “go around the corner” to experience your fantastic and sustainable bathroom accessories – Um die Ecke gehen – or rather, to head to the bathroom.

German culture and buyer habits

When discussing German culture and buyer habits, it’s important to keep in mind that Germans tend to be more stoic in their approach. They value straightforwardness and direct communication, so it’s best to avoid using sales-y or marketing language. Instead, focus on providing clear and concise information that addresses their needs and concerns.

Germans are more stoic

Germans, known for their stoicism, approach communication with a reserved and polite demeanor. They value directness and honesty in conversations, but they also prioritize politeness and respect.

It is important to be mindful of their reserved nature and avoid being too pushy or aggressive. Repetition in communication can be seen as self-serving and may not be well-received.

When translating English to German, it’s crucial to maintain this level of politeness and cultural sensitivity.

Don’t use sales-y or marketing language

Avoid using sales-y or marketing language in your translations if you want to connect with German audiences on a more personal and genuine level. Germans are known for their reserved and stoic nature, and overtly promotional language can come across as pushy or insincere.

Instead, focus on providing clear and informative content that addresses the needs and concerns of your German audience. Use a conversational tone and emphasize the benefits and value of your products or services without sounding overly sales-oriented.

Check out this blog to understand the differences between European and American buying styles.

Phrases that don’t have direct English translations

One fascinating aspect of English to German translations is the discovery of phrases that simply don’t have a direct equivalent in English. When localizing your listing from English to German, it would be good to throw in some of these phrases to appeal more to a German customer.

Translators must employ transcreation techniques, using different words and phrases to convey the same underlying message. It’s an art that requires expertise and linguistic finesse.

Here’s a fun list of some of the more popular words without direct English translations, which a native speaker would know where to place and how:

  1. Schadenfreude: Pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune.
  2. Gemütlichkeit: A feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. It also implies a sense of belonging and peace of mind.
  3. Fernweh: The opposite of homesickness; it’s an ache for distant places, the craving for travel.
  4. Doppelgänger: Literally a “double-goer,” referring to a look-alike or twin of a person.
  5. Zeitgeist: The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history, especially as expressed in art, literature, or culture.
  6. Wanderlust: A strong desire to travel and explore the world.
  7. Weltschmerz: A feeling of world-weariness, often used to describe a mood of pessimism or despair as a result of the current state of the world or one’s personal situation.
  8. Kummerspeck: Literally, “grief bacon”; refers to weight gained from emotional overeating.
  9. Vorfreude: The joyful anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures.
  10. Stammtisch: An informal group meeting held on a regular basis, often found in pubs or cafes, where people gather to chat and discuss topics of interest.
  11. Zugzwang: A situation where someone is forced to make a move or decision that will put them at a disadvantage; originally a chess term.
  12. Lebensmüde: Literally “life-tired”; used to describe a state of being weary or tired of life.
  13. Sitzfleisch: The ability to persevere through hard or boring tasks; literally “sitting meat.”
  14. Backpfeifengesicht: A face in need of a slap.
  15. Torschlusspanik: Literally, “gate-closing panic”; the fear that opportunities are slipping away as one gets older.
  16. Ohrwurm: Literally “ear worm,” refers to a catchy song or tune that gets stuck in your head.
  17. Sehnsucht: An intense yearning or longing, often for something intangible or unattainable.
  18. Treppenwitz: Literally, “staircase joke”; a witty retort or comeback that you think of only when it’s too late to use.
  19. Schnapsidee: A daft or crazy idea, typically one that comes to mind while drinking alcohol.
  20. Heimat: A deep sense of belonging, comfort and affinity towards a place or social context that feels like home.

Why localization is crucial when moving to a German market

Maximize your success in the German market by prioritizing localization for your business. When expanding into a new market, it’s crucial to adapt your content and messaging to resonate with the local audience.

Localization involves not only translating your materials accurately but also considering cultural nuances, regional variations, and specific preferences. By tailoring your website, marketing materials, and product offerings to the German market, you can effectively connect with your target audience and increase your chances of success.

Check out Jana’s Best Tips for Localizing to the German market here!


In conclusion, when it comes to English-to-German translation, it’s essential to understand the German-speaking market and its specific industries.

Working with a professional translator can ensure accuracy and consistency. Collaborating with native speakers and subject matter experts enhances translation quality.

Cultural differences, accurate terminology, and context must be considered. Expanding your business to the German market requires localization and adaptation to German culture and buyer habits.

Thorough research, clear communication, and timely delivery are key for successful translation.

Soon enough, you’ll be making waves in the lucrative and profitable German e-Commerce market!