Mercado Libre Achieves Accurate, Automatic Translations at Scale Using Amazon Translate
With a population of over 650 million people, Latin America is witnessing some of the fastest Internet-adoption growth in the world. Since its inception in 1999, Mercado Libre has acted on this growth to become the largest ecommerce and payments company in Latin America, operating in 18 countries with more than 76 million active users in the quarter ending in June 2021. Its online marketplaces feature more than 5,000 business sellers from outside Latin America, which generally operate in English.
Because product information arrives in English, the company needed a fast and scalable content localization solution for accurately translating and adapting seller content for its multicultural customers who speak Spanish and Portuguese. This translation process is critical to both improving customer engagement and driving sales.
Amazon Translate, a fast, high-quality, and customizable neural machine translation service on Amazon Web Services (AWS), proved to be the right fit for Mercado Libre. Amazon Translate enables Mercado Libre to translate millions of product titles, descriptions, and interactions efficiently and accurately between customers and sellers. “Using Amazon Translate, we now handle more than two million product title and product description translations each week from English to both Spanish and Portuguese,” says Franco Yadon, senior expert at Mercado Libre.
“Amazon Translate enables us to keep scaling up with new sellers and products without worrying about how to scale our translation infrastructure, service confidentiality, or seller
Senior Expert at Mercado Libre
Supporting a Growing Seller Network on AWS
Amazon Translate offers the scalability Mercado Libre needed to support the significant growth of its users and sellers. “We realized that Amazon Translate would enable us to achieve our translation goals—and keep growing—while avoiding technology and infrastructure limitations,” says Yadon.
Using Amazon Translate, Mercado Libre sellers are able to publish their products almost immediately, increasing their speed to market. The AWS-powered content localization solution also provides a good sync quality at a better price than other translation engines on the market, along with the flexibility to grow and evolve without making infrastructure changes. “By migrating to Amazon Translate, we’ve been able to implement machine learning models, achieve all the customizations that we need, and get a good quality of service without the complexity,” says Yadon. “Using Amazon Translate has enabled Mercado Libre to support its growing network of sellers, which increases in size every month. We are currently using the sync translate service because we need the instant translation for item creation. The quality of the translation is essential so that the buyer understands what they are buying and the seller does not have a bad experience uploading their catalogs.”
Translating More than 10 Million Characters per Hour Using Amazon Translate
Mercado Libre built a proof of concept and implemented Amazon Translate in less than 1 week. Then, it developed all the necessary capabilities throughout its microservices environment over the course of 1 month. Mercado Libre continued to use Amazon Translate alongside its legacy system until 2019, when it fully migrated to AWS to achieve greater scalability. The company has an internal API that enables sellers to interact with the translation service and fulfill both near-real-time and batch translations. “Sellers upload their catalogs in English and see the product listings in the local languages, so it’s almost in real time,” says Yadon. Using Amazon Translate, Mercado Libre can now process more than 10 million characters per hour, including 5 million from English to Spanish, 3 million from English to Portuguese, and the remaining characters for reverse customer interactions. Because Amazon Translate acts as a personal translator, buyers can also contact and freely chat with sellers without the need to speak the same language.
With an accurate translation solution in place, Mercado Libre can now offer a richer portfolio of products to customers by recruiting vendors outside of Spanish-speaking countries, such as from the United States and China. Now that the company can meet translation needs at any volume, it is better equipped to grow and expand its reach. From July 2020 to July 2021, Mercado Libre was able to scale to handle anywhere from 0.2 million to 0.9 million translation requests in a given day.
Mercado Libre’s staff is also free to concentrate on growing the business—not on the tools and expertise required to achieve accurate translations at scale. “We don’t need a machine learning specialist, a language specialist, or anything else that goes into this kind of translation service,” says Yadon. “That enables us to focus on the business and not the technology to implement this huge service. Any professional, who wants to be on the frontier of knowledge, using top-of-class tools at a global level, will find in Mercado Libre a world-class option to join a team where there are always new challenges.”
The company continues to use human translators to spot-check the automatic translations for accuracy on specific high-selling, high-volume products. “The translation quality of Amazon Translate is high, and we’ve come to trust its capabilities,” says Yadon. “We still continue to monitor and continuously improve the quality of translations based on our translators’ and customers’ feedback and boost the translation accuracy by using customization features in Amazon Translate, such as custom terminologies.”
Building More Customized Translations Using AWS Services
Having solved the challenge of how to accurately translate a continuously growing volume of seller listings, Mercado Libre is exploring ways to make translations more localized to the regions that the company serves. “Amazon Translate is a fundamental rock for scaling our business,” says Yadon. “It helps us build a good experience for both customers and sellers.” Mercado Libre is currently exploring use of Amazon Translate Active Custom Translation, a feature that provides more control over machine translation output, to accommodate different Latin American dialects and further personalize the customer experience.
“AWS helps us keep innovating on the basis of customer needs and feedback, get more specific use of various services, and improve our experience,” says Yadon. “The support we’ve received from AWS is amazing."
About Mercado Libre
Mercado Libre is the largest ecommerce and payments company in Latin America, operating in 18 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Mercado Libre delivers a suite of technology solutions that aim to democratize ecommerce and digital and mobile payment in the region.
Benefits of AWS
- Provides a fast and scalable content localization solution
- Delivers translated product descriptions in near-real time, increasing speed to market
- Scales to handle between 0.2 million and 0.9 million daily translation requests
- Facilitates communication between buyers and sellers who speak different languages
- Improves customer engagement and drives sales
AWS Services Used
Amazon Translate is a neural machine translation service that delivers fast, high-quality, and affordable language translations you can customize.
Amazon Translate Active Custom Translation
Amazon Translate allows you to take greater control over the output of your machine translation with Active Custom Translation (ACT). With ACT, you can use your data to train Amazon Translate and produce custom translations that are tailored to your domain or use case.
To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/translate/.