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.

 

On creating your own Web Globalization Report Card

report card

I first published the Web Globalization Report Card about 10 years ago.

Since then, a number of companies have developed their own internal Report Cards (and I’ve assisted with several).

Adobe, in this excellent article on Five Golden Rules to Achieving Agile Localization, mentions its own Globalization Report Card:

As part of our World-Readiness program, we created a Globalization Report Card system to assess the degree of world-readiness in each Adobe product. This scorecard measures products against a set of internationalization criteria (ability to input international characters, display date formats, translate the user interface, and so on…). It is an efficient way to track progress made by each team over time and can even create some healthy competition among product teams. These teams are motivated to be on top of the i18n charts!

Report Cards provide a number of benefits. Here are a few that I’ve seen firsthand:

  • Focus on achieving best practices: There’s nothing like putting your goals in writing — with buy-in from different teams (web, marketing, geo) — to focus everyone on a few key goals.
  • Tracking progress: It’s easy during the course of a year to change direction, put out various fires, and generally lose track of where you were headed at the beginning of the year. The Report Card never lets you lose track of where you began and how far you’ve come.
  • Educating colleagues: It’s safe to say that web globalization is a “black art” to many people in your company. But the Report Card provides an indirect means of educating them. What’s a “global gateway” they may ask? And when they ask you’re halfway towards convincing them on why you need to rework the home page. Or add languages. Or more local content.
  • Quickly adapting to emerging trends: The Report Card is not written in stone. It’s designed to be updated regularly to keep companies ahead of the curve. Which means you’ll probably never get a perfect score. And that’s okay. Progress is more important than perfection.

I know of a few companies that use Report Cards as part of their employee review process — and in these cases the reports are taken VERY seriously.

Of course, a Report Card in itself doesn’t necessarily result in positive change. It’s just one tool and it has to be well used to have the desired effect. I have witnessed a few instances of employees asking to “opt out” of the Report Card simply because they didn’t “buy-in” to the metrics. But if you do get buy-in I believe you will see amazing results over the long haul. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

In September at the Brand2Global Conference I will teach a half-day session on benchmarking global websites. More important, I’ll be working with participants to help them develop benchmarks for their company websites. This session is part of the Mastering Web Globalization course I’m teaching the day before the conference begins. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Taking the Great American Pastime Global

MLB Japan logo

I was raised a Cardinals fan. But I don’t live in St. Louis anymore so I must follow the team virtually.

Fortunately there’s the MLB mobile app.

MLB mobile app

Now I can listen to the games — and Mike Shannon — in real time.

And I’m not alone. the MLB mobile app has been hugely popular.

In this All Things D interview, Bow Bowman, who runs digital operations for Major League Baseball, talked about taking its brand and digital properties global.

At about the 16 minute mark (see embed below) Bob mentions that non-US users of the MLB apps make up about 10% of all users, which was more than I expected. Most of the usage is in Asia (Korea, Taiwan, Japan) with the rest located in the Caribbean.

I took a brief tour of the non-US MLB websites.

If you visit MLB.com, you’ll see links to the localized websites right above the main logo — easy to find.

MLB global gateway

Here is the home page of MLB Taiwan, note the smart use of the .tw country code:

MLB Taiwan

Also note that the team names have also been translated.

I believe the Japan website is the result of a joint arrangement, hence the wildly different design.

MLB Japan

But I love seeing the .jp country code merged into the logo.

Here’s the full All Things D interview:

PS: I’m also the proud publisher of a book that has helped many MLB players improve their game: Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game—in Baseball and in Life.

 

 

Samsung: The best consumer technology website of 2013

Samsung logo

We studied 18 consumer technology websites for the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

The Web Globalization Report Card is an annual benchmark of how effectively companies internationalize and localize their websites and applications for the world.

Out of those 18 companies, Samsung emerged on top.

Samsung emerged on top not because it leads in languages or global consistency, though it is strong in both respects.

Samsung supports an impressive 41 languages, not including US English. Apple, by comparison, stands at 31 languages.

Samsung emerged on top in large part because it has been aggressive  in engaging with users via social media across a number of languages and countries.

Note the bottom third of  Japan home page:

samsung Japan

Samsung embraces a range of social platforms to communicate and engage with users — in their local languages.

Samsung also leverages these platforms to provide customer support, as shown here:

samsung support

Many comparisons have been made lately between Apple and Samsung.

When simply comparing their global websites, clear distinctions are hard to miss.

Samsung has embraced social networking while Apple has not. Samsung appears to be comfortable with a certain level of visual chaos that comes  with supporting social networks and interacting publicly with customers. There are signs on the US website that Samsung is moving towards a new Samsung Nation model in which users register to earn points and virtual goodies — as well as connect with friends via Facebook. The degree to which this model will scale globally remains to be seen though I suspect Asia will pose a challenge.

Apple, on the other hand, presents a clean and consistent design template to the world. There is nothing scattered or busy about an Apple websites (except, I would argue, for its excessive use of flags). And consistency has served Apple quite nicely, though Apple has moved more slowly from a globalization perspective than Samsung.

Regarding the global gateway, Samsung buries the link to the gateway in the footer (not good).

Tthe gateway  itself is well organized, though the flags should be eliminated. As a general rule, flags should be avoided (a subject for a future post).

samsung global gateway

Finally, Samsung has been aggressive in updating its mobile website experience.

In the past two months, it launched a new mobile-optimized website, shown on the right:

samsung mobile

Notice how social icons are front and center. Also notice in the header how Samsung detects the use of an iPhone and instantly poses a comparison test.

Sneaky but smart.

While Samsung still has room for improvement, it does so many things well that it earned out the number one spot, outperforming companies like Apple, Panasonic, and Lenovo.

Here are the 18 consumer technology websites included in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Acer
  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Canon
  • Dell
  • HP
  • HTC
  • Lenovo
  • LG
  • McAfee
  • Microsoft
  • Nikon
  • Nokia
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Symantec

Read more in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

Or you can purchase just the Consumer Technology Website report.

Also included:

The best global travel websites

lionbridge_travel_2013

I’m pleased to announce a new (and free) report focused on the globalization of travel websites.

From American Airlines to Kayak to Wyndham, this report highlights those websites that have the widest global reach and are the most user friendly — regardless of the user’s language or nationality.

Lionbridge sponsored the production of this report and is making the report available for free (registration required).

Lionbridge suggested the websites they wanted to see included but they did not play any role in the analysis of these sites. I’ve been studying many of these companies for years now through the Web Globalization Report Card.

Even if your company is not a member of this industry, you may find this report valuable. Included are a number of general web globalization best practices.

Furthermore, the travel industry includes a handful of companies that have really innovated in regards to the globalization of websites and mobile apps, companies like Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Kayak.

In all, this report scores 71 companies across a seven segments, including hotels, airlines, rental cars, cruise lines, and online travel agencies. Companies include Starwood Hotels, Delta, United, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Avis, Sixt, among others.

You can download your copy for free by registering here.