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.

 

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

Free Webinar: The Leading Global Retailers (and why)

The Leading Global Retailers and Why

I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday for a free one-hour webinar (sponsored by Lionbridge).

I will talk about my research on the retail industry, focusing on companies like Amazon, Apple, and Best Buy. You’ll get a better understanding of just why retail is so challenging from a global perspective and how to minimize risks.

April 4, 2013
12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time | 17:00 Greenwich Mean Time

UPDATE: The call is now available for replay here.