Tiffany’s global aspirations (and room for improvement)

Tiffany China

When I lived in New York, I used to get a kick out of visiting Tiffany. Not that I actually purchased much of anything there, but I was always impressed by how well the store packaged itself — down to that distinctive (and trademarked) blue box.

Tiffany has been slowly and steadily expanding globally over the years — most aggressively in Asia.

This WSJ interview with Tiffany CEO Michael Kowalski offers up some excellent insights into where the company is headed and what it has learned so far:

We do believe there are wonderful geographic expansion opportunities for us. We’ve tried to build a diversified geographic portfolio so that we aren’t dependent on any one region or any one country. We’ve only recently become a stronger presence in the Middle East and we’ll open our first-owned-and-operated store in Russia this spring. We’re also optimistic about potential in China. Our companywide plan is for Tiffany sales to grow between 10% and 12% for the foreseeable future.

And…

We learned we need to be more overt about how we present our brand. A great example would be the store signage. If you were to look closely at the New York Fifth Avenue store, Tiffany & Co. is written in steel letters on both sides of the doors, perhaps two [feet] in length, six inches in height and it’s carved into the granite of the facade. And that’s the only signage there is.

When we first came to China, we were equally discreet and subtle in how we presented the brand and that created a problem. People simply didn’t see or couldn’t see the brand. They couldn’t understand what the store was about. We’ve had to be more direct and less subtle in how we communicate the brand.

I took a look at the website and there is room from improvement.

But first a focus on what Tiffany gets right. Tiffany makes good use of country codes, such as:

  • www.tiffany.com.br
  • www.tiffany.cn
  • www.tiffany.kr

Unfortunately, Tiffany buries its global gateway link in the footer of the template.

And this is particularly troublesome because Tiffany greats first-time visitors with its global gateway landing page:

tiffany global gateway

It’s a fine gateway overall — but if you were to select the wrong market by accident this preference is locked via cookie into your browser. So if you try to go back to www.tiffany.com you’ll be redirected to the local site, whether you like it or not.

I’m not a fan of redirection. Websites should honor user input — but gracefully make users aware of the local websites (and URLs) so users can go directly there upon return visits.

 

Are you playing favorites with your global gateway?

This is nothing new to regular readers of this blog, but I visited another fairly major website recently that used the following global gateway:

I always cringe when I see this.

Showing favoritism for one country over others is never a good idea.

And even if most of the users of this particular menu are based in the US, there are technical ways to pre-select “United States” without embedding it at the top of a list.

I realize that this may seem like a trivial detail, but for those web users living outside of the US, it’s not so trivial.

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

WhatsApp gets global navigation right

I’ll admit I knew nothing about WhatsApp before I read that Facebook was about to buy the company (or not).

So I went to its website and was pleasantly surprised to see a simple but effective global gateway.

Let’s start with the use of the globe icon:

Nicely located. Simple. And when you click on it you get an equally efficient menu:

And WhatsApp uses language detection (also known as content negotiation) to detect your web browser’s language and respond in kind.

Shown here is what my browser (set to Spanish) sees:

It’s wonderful to see start-up companies get navigation right so early on.

It bodes well for global expansion, which this company appears to be doing quite rapidly as well.

 

Entering the Nike “language tunnel”

Nike has a brand new website and they’ve made a few navigational changes along the way.

For starters, it appears that Nike is now using geolocation to detect the location of the user’s browser.

This means Nike is no longer using a default global gateway landing page, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is that the global gateway menu link has been buried at the bottom of a very long home page, right below the contact into:

If you click the link you’ll be taken to the “language tunnel” — note the URL:

I’ve never heard of the gateway page referred to as a tunnel, but in some respects it is one.

And given how Nike has buried the gateway link, the tunnel metaphor applies nicely (I’m kidding, of course; I never recommend burying the gateway link).

In fact, because Nike now uses geolocation it’s particularly important to make the gateway easy to find. Because now you’re performing some behind-the-scenes magic that users might want to override.

As for the global gateway menu itself, it is cleanly designed and extensible, though placing the US and UK at the top of the lists shows an unfortunate cultural bias.

 

 

Microsoft’s new web design — the bad and the good

Saw on Daring Fireball that Microsoft is previewing its new global website (link).

Naturally, I wondered “Where the heck did the global gateway go?”

It used to be in the header. But no more.

The global gateway has been demoted to the footer. This is the bad.

But there is a saving grace — Microsoft is now using a globe icon to highlight the gateway. This is the good.

Also good, it’s a nice clean design.

I’ll have more to say once the site goes live, officially.