IKEA: The best global retail website of 2017

For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, I benchmarked the following 9 retail websites:

  • H&M
  • IKEA
  • LUSH
  • McDonald’s
  • MUJI
  • Starbucks
  • UNIQLO
  • Walmart
  • Zara

For the purposes of this report, the retail segment includes only those companies that support physical retail locations within the markets they serve. While Amazon is in the early stages of rolling out retail locations, I still view Amazon as more of a web services company than a conventional retail company and is therefore benchmarked against sites such as eBay and Google. The reason for this distinction is to focus on those companies that are already physically distributed around the world and may have in-country offices supporting unique country websites.

One of the great web globalization challenges that global retail organizations face is in aligning disparate offices and cultures on shared design templates — a goal that has so far eluded companies such as McDonald’s and Walmart. IKEA emerged as number one this year, edging out Starbucks. 

IKEA added two languages over the past year, raising its language total to 34; only McDonald’s supports more languages in this category.

IKEA continues to do an excellent job of supporting global consistency and depth of localization. But IKEA made a key improvement over the past year that I want to point out.

First, a bit of backstory. IKEA was one of the first companies to use a splash global gateway and continued to use one up until last year, shown here:

In the early days of global websites, IKEA was smart to use a splash global gateway. Geolocation was not yet a proven technology, so the splash page was the ideal way to ensure that visitors from around the world to the .com domain discovered their local websites.

But times have changed and people are impatient. They don’t want to land on a splash global gateway every time they arrive at your global home page. That’s where geolocation comes in.

Fortunately, IKEA isnow uses geolocation to greet you in your locale.

Now, when someone from the US visits IKEA.com he or she sees this page:

And customers in the United Kingdom see this landing page:

IKEA’s global gateway still could use improvement (an over reliance on flags). But this move to geolocation is a big step forward in global usability and a reason why IKEA is now the retail leader.

LUSH also relies on geolocation. Shown below is the landing page that LUSH greets Japanese visitors with. Unfortunately, language support is absent.

McDonald’s is the retail language leader at 41 languages yet still lags most global websites in  consistency. Shown here are three country home pages to give you some idea of how widely designs vary.

McDonald’s could save significant resources by relying on global templates. This would benefit users as well as they would see consistent navigation and branding when they navigate between the .com website and the local websites (which is a common scenario.)

Walmart continues to lag the field in web globalization best practices. But there are small signs of progress. For instance, Walmart now uses geolocation to auto-direct users to local websites. So a web user in Brazil can enter walmart.com and be taken to the Brazil website. While I applaud the use of geolocation, the failure to include a visual global gateway in the header of every web page is dangerous because users cannot easily override the geolocated setting.

To learn more, check out the 2017 Report Card.
PS: All purchasers of the Web Globalization Report Card receive signed copies of Think Outside the Country, among other goodies!

Starbucks: The best global retail website

For the 2015 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied 10 retail websites:

  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • GameStop
  • Gap
  • H&M
  • IKEA
  • McDonald’s
  • Staples
  • Starbucks
  • Toys R Us
  • UNIQLO
  • Walmart
  • Zara

Out of those 10 websites, Starbucks emerged as number one. Here is a screen shot from the German site:

starbucks_de

McDonald’s leads the category in languages supported, with 39 (in addition to English), but still lags in regards to global consistency and localization. Starbucks, on the other hands, supports a highly consistency — and responsive — global website, which allows its many locales to focus more on content and local engagement.

Starbucks added Norwegian over the past year.  To get an idea of how Starbucks has expanded globally over the past decade, below are two global gateways.

Here is the global gateway in 2006, displaying just seven localized websites:

starbucks_gateawy_2006

And here is the global gateway today:

starbucks_gateway_2015

Starbucks went all-in with local-language social networks years ago — an effort that has proved quite successful. Though the number of followers of the company’s local-language Facebook pages are considerably fewer than the global page, the level of engagement is higher.

Starbucks also supports a very sophisticated mobile app (though the app still lags most other major global apps in localization). Also lagging is the Starbucks’ global gateway — which has so far been demoted to the footer.

Only Starbucks and IKEA made the top 25 list of best global websites.

Zara and H&M are two other retail websites worth keeping a close eye on in the year ahead.

2015 Web Globalization Report Card

Best global retail web site: IKEA

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted findings from the 2010 Web Globalization Report Card, but I did want to include a brief note on the retail sector.

We define this industry segment to include those retailers (and a few food/beverage chains) that have a physical presence in the countries in which they do business. This excludes a company such as Amazon, and it greatly narrows the selection of global web sites, as most “bricks and mortar” retailers have been slow to expand into new markets. For bricks and mortar retailers, the world is not quite as flat as it is for their virtual competitors. To illustrate, the average number of languages supported by the retail web sites we studied was 13, well below the overall average of 22.

We included 11 retailers in the 2010 Web Globalization Report Card.

The Web Globalization Report Card is an annual benchmark of how effectively companies internationalize and localize their web sites and applications for the world. It is now in its sixth edition.

Of the 11 retailers studied, IKEA emerged on top.

IKEA is no stranger to the top spot. It was an early leader in this space and has done an amazing job of balancing global consistency with local flexibility in every market it enters. IKEA was also one of the first multinationals to use a splash global gateway — which it still uses today (FYI: if you want to learn more about global gateways, check out the brand new edition of The Art of the Global Gateway).

Starbucks made significant improvements over the past two years, and adding eight new languages. Starbucks has also beenagressive in embracing social media around the world. For example, its German Facebook page — Starbucks Deutschland — has more than 175,000 followers (it gained more than 100,000 followers in the last seven months).

Best Buy has done an excellent job with its US Spanish web site, blogs, and community forums.

It will be an interesting site to watch over the next year as the company expands into Europe.

Here is the full list of retailers included in the 2010 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Best Buy
  • Build a Bear
  • Godiva
  • H&M
  • Home Depot
  • IKEA
  • McDonald’s
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • Tiffany
  • Wal-Mart