Lunar New Year has arrived and, with it, the Chinese New Year (and related Asian New Year celebrations).
As I’ve done a few times in the past, I thought I’d feature a few localized web pages from multinationals as they make the most of Chinese New Year.
And, as in years past, we can expect to see plenty of the color red — the color of celebration and good fortune.
Beginning with Google:
And BMW practically wall-papered its China home page in red:
Buick (which has a very positive brand in China):
Hermes (and its poorly punned promotion):
Speaking of luxury brands, they have invested heavily in China, but as you’ll see in the next Web Globalization Report Card, luxury brands are laggards in web globalization best practices.
<begin PSA> And speaking of pigs, did you know that they are more intelligent than most dogs? Sadly, we slaughter millions of these very smart and compassionate creatures every day. In honor of this amazing animal, I ask everyone who eats meat (as I once did) to consider cutting back or giving it up altogether. As someone who was raised on barbecue, I never would have imagined I would be one day write these words, which is proof that you will not wither away if you give up meat. You’ll actually be quite a bit healthier. And think of the animals you will save! </end PSA>
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.
Outside the U.S., Starbucks is now in 62 countries. “The biggest opportunity we have is clearly in Asia,” he says. So far, there are 1,000 stores in both China and Japan, 16 in India and one in Vietnam. Mr. Schultz hopes to open thousands more in China.
“We’ve been in China now for over a decade,” he says. “The most gratifying thing is, when we first got there, most of our customers were tourists and expats, and now they’re Chinese nationals.”