The Top 500 apparel chain plans to expand its reserve online, pick up in store program, as well as its presence in China.
Retail web sites missing out on global strategies, study says
In a study of the globalization policies of 121 web sites by Byte Level Research, no retailers made the top 10. To earn a spot in the Top 10, sites must provide a truly localized experience for their foreign customers, Byte Level says.
In spite of the widely recognized ability of the web to extend sales worldwide--and the success that some leading e-retailers have had in overseas sales--no retailers made the Top 10 in a study of the globalization policies at 121 web sites by researchers Byte Level Research.
To earn high ranking in the study, sites must provide a truly localized experience for their foreign customers, Byte Level says.
Even well-known global retailers like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. scored poorly. Indeed, Sears.com and WalMart.com scored in the bottom 10 of the 121 sites because of lack of consistency in web pages, slow-loading pages, and lack of support for key foreign languages. "These web sites are proof that having a global company does not necessarily make for a global web site," says John Yunker, president of Byte Level Research.
Starbucks Coffee Co.`s Starbucks.com was the highest-ranked retail site, in 12th place, followed by LandsEnd.com in 14th. Yunker notes that Starbucks provides a consistent brand image and user interface throughout its foreign markets, and that Lands` End provides good local customer support and local product selection.
Byte Level noted that Amazon.com ranked 20th and could have scored higher if it offered a better global gateway with easier access to its foreign sites. Byte Level also noted efforts by L.L. Bean to launch a Japanese-language web site and Office Depot Inc. to launch a Spanish-language site in the U.S. market. The top-ranked site for globalization was Google.com.
Byte Level also noted:
-- The best global web sites are built for speed, though in most countries, more than 70% of all web users have slow, dial-up Internet connections, forcing companies to keep graphics and multimedia files to a minimum. Even in the U.S., broadband penetration is still under 20% of all households.
-- Companies should not assume that .com stands for North America. The .com page needs to include a “global gateway” that directs users to a company’s localized web sites. Not all local users intuitively know the URLs of the localized web sites.