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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

Same platform?

Will your existing e-commerce platform provide you with the ability to create localised online propositions?

Content management

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.

IP addresses

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: 

Naked Wines

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...

Graham Charlton

Published 12 July, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Doug T

Hi Graham,
Good work and interesting examples. Might you repeat such an analysis for B2B? Perhaps seek out good examples and less good from global firms big and smaller?


over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Doug - good idea.

over 4 years ago



Hi Graham, great blog post with some useful tips.

One area of the website you could also mention is how to capture international contacts. Maintaining accurate address details is a lot more difficult for companies operating internationally than for those operating solely in one country. All the problems and inconsistencies inherent to one address dataset, language, and one culture, become multiplied and then with the cost of international postage to contend with, the price of getting it wrong can be amplified. I would suggest that any company looking to expand international will need to invest in software that will validate the international address at the point of entry.

over 4 years ago

Victoria Hanson

Victoria Hanson, Digital Marketing Manager at The Hideaways Club

And also, how calls to action need to be adapted too for different cultures and attitude to online.

over 4 years ago

Peter Boazman

Peter Boazman, eBusiness Lead Consumer & Office business 3M EMEA at 3M Europe

For international brands, it's vital to have a strong core message , and present this with a consistent look and feel /values core.
This can then be surrounded by country, or cultural content that relates to the specific region in which it is appealing.
Amazon have got it right in many ways, despite I am sure, being told in each new region that 'It is different here'.
International brands are too valuable to be allowed to become a 'hotchpot' of local interpretations.

over 4 years ago

Victoria Hanson

Victoria Hanson, Digital Marketing Manager at The Hideaways Club

Agree with you there Peter. However I think there is a difference between brand values and CRO. I definitely think you can have both and adapt for localisation.

over 4 years ago


Kate Owen

Hi Graham, great article and interesting examples!

You mention “routing IP addresses to the relevant site may well be a requirement.” … Many of our customers at Digital Element do exactly that: they use IP intelligence data to instantly recognise the user’s location and automatically display relevant content from the first page view – and without the need for the user to identify where they are.

And it’s not just about design and language, even if these are the most instantly noticeable elements. In international ecommerce it's important to display local product ranges and calculate the correct currency, taxes and delivery terms. We also work with newspaper brands that display either a local or an international edition, depending on where the reader is… and segment their adspace accordingly, thus upping both their advertiser base and eCPM.

over 4 years ago



Great article - really enjoyed reading about the international adaptations. One area of emphasis is many sites will be adapt their colors to the local market. For example, red has a different connotation in Spain than it does in India.

It was very interesting that Amazon did not adapt at all to global markets. Would be interesting to see the impact on commerce revenues?

over 4 years ago


Ecommerce Website development

Prestigious and nice information, i really enjoyed the information share here, i am impressed by this.

over 4 years ago

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