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