Lululemon: Global shipping is step one

lululemon

Lululemon provides an interesting case study of a US-based retailer taking its first steps towards going global.

And, like all first steps, this one is rather awkward.

To be clear, Lululemon is only focused on shipping globally, which is a nice feature for English-speaking customers around the world. But I wish the website made this explicitly clear, so that web users who don’t speak English don’t waste their time with the tool highlighted below.

What I’m going to show here isn’t a conventional global gateway because Lululemon supports only an English-language website. But I would suspect that a fair number of international web users may think it will take them to a localized website. The flag, I think, is part of the problem. A user could see the flag and think that this is a global gateway he or she must navigate.

But it’s not an easy gateway to navigate — it’s frustratingly open ended. The gateway link is located well down the home page — not quite in the footer but close:

lululemon_gateway

Clicking on the country name brings up the “Type Your Country” input box.

Here’s where things get interesting.

If I enter “China” I find that my country is supported. This is a fine if I’m an English speaker in China.

lululemon_gateway2

But what if I enter Chinese text? This is what I see:

lululemon_gateway4

Now one could argue that by only supporting Latin text input you’re doing a better job of managing language expectations because there is no translation of text available. Nevertheless, a basic text menu of supported countries would be a better solution than this open-ended input form — and certainly a less resource-intensive approach.

This gateway reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer plays the Moviefone guy:

On a very positive note, the website uses geolocation to guest the user’s preferred target country. Shown here is the message that a user in Germany sees:

lululemon_geo

It’s in English, naturally, so I’m not sure all users will find this approach user friendly.

But, like I said, this is a first step toward going global.

For more on taking your website global, check out Geolocation for Global Success.

 

NOTO, as in No Tofu

First of all, I love tofu.

But when you see it on a computer screen, it’s not so nice.

Like those two rows of “tofu-shaped” objects shown below that indicate a missing font:

tofu3

Tofu used to be a much bigger problem ten years ago, back when fonts are strictly aligned with different character sets and computers shipped with very limited font families. Today, computers and phones ship with system fonts that can natively display a significant number of languages.

Nevertheless, as websites support more and more languages, the need for fully world-ready fonts will only grow.

So it’s nice to see Google investing in creating open-source font faces to support the world’s languages.

This font family is called NOTO (as in no tofu).

google_noto

A package of all 100+ fonts weighs more than 470MB.

Instead, you might pick and choose which language/script you wish to support:

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-13-30-pm

This post is brought to you by the Multilingual Eye Chart.

 

Boeing and the trouble with flags in global gateways

Examine the Boeing global gateway below and see if you can see a problem:

boeing_flags

I did not realize the Middle East had an official flag but, according to this gateway, it does.

And herein lies a major problem with using flags — they’re not well suited to regional websites.

Apple has a similar problem as illustrated by its Latin American flags:

apple_flags_16

So what’s the solution?

Stop using flags for global navigation.

It’s quite simple actually.

And, yes, I do believe that Apple will drop flags from its website. Eventually.

For more on this, check out The Art of the Global Gateway.

The world’s biggest shopping day is November 11th

China’s Alibaba is the creator (and exporter) of this one-day ecommerce extravaganza that takes place on 11/11.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-56-28-pm

And despite being a one-day event the pre-promotion is in full effect.

According to brandchannel, Alibaba is intent to set new records this year by expanding beyond China’s border. Its long-term goal is two billion shoppers, so they have no choice but to look outside mainland China. This year they’ve recruited Katy Perry as their spokesperson.

tmall_2016

Amazon recently launched Prime in China. But Amazon is just a blip compared to Alibaba.

Costco has been a partner for several years and apparently did 3.5 million in sales two years ago. Here is their Tmall home page. Costco does not even have a localized website for China — just a Tmall site, which is effectively the same thing when it comes to China. The benefit of a Tmall site is that you’re hosted within the country, bypassing the great firewall. And you get built-in marketing and support from Alibaba.

Now, will Singles Day take off in the US?

When it comes to ecommerce, I’d say anything is possible. We Americans love any opportunity to shop. And perhaps with the growing backlash against Black Friday, this will one day become the next big shopping day.

Tiffany: The best luxury website of 2016

This year, we benchmarked the following seven luxury websites for the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Burberry
  • Cartier
  • Gucci
  • Hermès
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Tiffany

Out of these websites Tiffany emerged on top, largely because of its investment in global ecommerce.

Most luxury brands have been late to embrace ecommerce and, even now, have a long ways to go in terms of web localization and usability.

These websites average only 10 languages, which is a major reason why they lag most other global websites. And global navigation is also a problem for most websites, as is support for mobile devices.

But Tiffany is the leader in this category in global navigation. Tiffany uses geolocation to ensure that you are directed to your localized website, assuming it’s available. It displays the following overlay to first-time visitors:

tiffany_geo

Here is the same overlay, localized for German website visitors to the same .com domain:

tiffany_geo_de

This may seem like a minor detail, but it makes a significant impact to customer experience and ultimate conversion.

Tiffany also supports a mobile-friendly website design, though the gateway is poorly located in the footer. Burberry also buries its global gateway link in the footer, as shown here on the German home page:

burberry_2016

For users who don’t speak German, this gateway link is not going to be easy to find. A globe icon would greatly improve usability — something that fashion brands have yet to implement.

In terms of global reach, Tiffany is tied for number one in languages with Hermès. But fashion brands still are not even halfway to reaching the baseline for “global” websites. As shown here, the average number of languages supported by the leading global brands is now 30:

Average number of languages supported by leading global websites: 2016 Web Globalization Report Card
Average number of languages supported by leading global websites: 2016 Web Globalization Report Card

As luxury brands embrace ecommerce, they must also embrace fundamental global usability practices, such as user friendly global gateways, support for country codes, fast-loading mobile websites, and depth of localized content.

2016 Report Card