Creating websites that target different international markets is about more than just translation. Content needs to be localised, while web designs that adapt to local audiences can be more effective.
There are cultural differences which will affect how your site performs overseas. In Sweden, for instance, simplicity and speed of use are all important, whereas the French online shopper prefers a more design-led experience.
Here are some examples of brands that have adapted their websites to appeal to foreign markets, including some taken from our Internationalisation of E-commerce Best Practice Guide,
Technology and design challenges for internationalisation
Will your existing e-commerce platform provide you with the ability to create localised online propositions?
Do you have a separate content management system (CMS) or a CMS capability built in your current platform? An effective CMS will make life easier by allowing you to make a change to a master template, which can then be deployed to all country variations.
It will make global search optimisation exponentially more effective by eliminating problems on a global scale rather than requiring individual country-level remediation.
Variances in design and user experience for different countries
See the Adidas examples below. There are many similarities and the design has the feel of a global template. However, the promotions, products featured and the language used were very much tailored towards the needs of the local market.
Variances in shopping behaviour
Different aspects of the customer journey have varying levels of importance for consumers from different markets. Therefore the user experience needs to take account of these variances.
Are you able to host additional country sites within your current hosting environment?
System integration requirements
You may need to integrate with a third party fulfilment company or with other third party applications as you roll out new localised sites.
Routing IP addresses to the relevant site may well be a requirement.
Can you acquire the relevant domain name for the local market?
This will help greatly with search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as being an important factor in creating the right impression with consumers in these markets.
Here are five examples of brands and retailers, showing how they have adapted their sites to cater for different foreign markets.
Some have very different site designs, some have used a similar design but have adapted content and promotions, while Amazon just does what Amazon does...
Compare the UK version of the site, which is relatively sparse and is promoting its Olympics sponsorship.
In China, the site is much busier, a video plays automatically when you visit the page, while prices and offers are clearly displayed:
Here's the UK version:
Compare this to the Australian version, asking for beta testers:
The UK version:
The Germans probably wouldn't appreciate England and Man City shirts, so the site has been adapted:
However, it hasn't done the same with the Brazilian site. Not sure how interested they'd be in the 'St George collection':
Adidas uses very similar site architecture across key country sites, but still enables content and promotions to be tailored to the local market.
In the UK, the Olympics is the obvious theme to use at the moment.
For its US site, it's the same layout but US-focused promotions. An American football them in this case:
On the Adidas Italy site, there is local content such as the new Milan kit, though I'm not sure many Italian football fans will appreciate this image:
Very little changes with Amazon from country to country. It clearly works, so why change it?
Here's the France site:
Not much change for the Chinese version:
Which brands are doing this well? What are the best examples you've seen? Leave a comment and let us know...