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Amazon's Sweden launch snagged by language errors

October 28, 2020

The online retailer's long-awaited website launch in Sweden has been criticized for translation errors, including a rather unfortunate interpretation of a greeting card featuring a rooster.

Amazon Logo
Image: picture-alliance/Geisler/C. Hardt

Amazon launched its Swedish website on Wednesday, in a much-anticipated expansion into the Nordic e-commerce market.

However, Swedish media quickly pointed out that online shoppers had found numerous spelling mistakes and translation errors on the website, Amazon.se.

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Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper reported that a greeting card with a giant rooster was translated into words rudely referencing male genitalia. The word "rapeseed" for several products was simply translated as "valdtakt," which means rape in Swedish. A baking tin was described for use with "feces."

The Swedish flag on the country selection function was also mistakenly shown as Argentina's.

An Amazon spokesperson said that the retailer wants to "thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se," adding that users spotting errors should use feedback links and Amazon will then correct mistakes.

Nicklas Storakers, CEO of the Swedish price comparison service PriceRunner, said the launch was the "most botched work I have ever seen," the tech website Breakit reported.

Breakit said it seems the Swedish linguistic blunders were "automatic translations."

A tough market

Amazon has said Amazon.se features 150 million products in 30 categories. However, retail analyst Daniel Schmidt at Danske Bank told Swedish news agency TT that it may be difficult for Amazon to become as dominant in Sweden's online retail market as it has in the US, UK and Germany.

"It's a different thing to enter Sweden in 2020 than it was to enter Germany and England 20 years ago," Schmidt said.

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Until the launch of the Swedish site, customers from Nordic countries have shopped on Amazon's German and UK sites.

"We will continue to work hard to earn the trust of Swedish customers by ... providing a convenient and trusted shopping experience,'' Amazon Vice President for European Expansion Alex Ootes said in a statement ahead of the launch.

Three critiques of Amazon

wmr/dr (AFP, Reuters, AP)