Issues in making Website for a Multinational Companies :
A successful Web site presents information to the user in a format with which he or she is accustomed. It is a big challenge to build a Web site capable of addressing the information needs of racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse populations.
In today's global marketplace, where companies market their products and services in different country markets, it is important for managers to know how to address customers in diverse cultures. One way to address these diverse cultures is to establish storefronts or company websites which are culturally sensitive and to respond to an increasing demand for national websites which are country specific.
The following points are required to be followed while designing the website for a multinational company:
1. The content parity from one to the other website
2. Cultural sensitivity of the nation.
3. Balance of Values of the company and the nation.
4. Legal Frame work of the country.
5. Language Jargon to fit the national culture.
6. Ease of navigation from one site to the parent site and vice versa.
The following study is an attempt to uncover how culturally sensitive multinational companies address these challenges in their national websites by observing different websites of nokia, a Finland based company.
Background of Nokia :
Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation that is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, a city neighbouring Finland's capital Helsinki.
Nokia's history starts in 1865 when mining engineer Fredrik Idestam established a groundwood pulp mill on the banks of the Tammerkoski in southwestern Finland, and started manufacturing paper. In 1868, Idestam built a second mill near the town of Nokia. The name of the town, Nokia, originated from the river which flowed through the town. Literal meaning of Nokia is small.
Throughout the nineteenth century to late twentieth century Nokia had its business in electric cable, rubber boots, tires, toilet paper and radio telephony utilities. By the 1980s, Nokia was close to bankruptcy due to the collapse of the Soviet Union which was Finland’s main trading partner. In 1992 Jorma Ollila became the President and CEO and decided to venture out of all its other business and concentrate only on mobile business.
Today, Nokia is engaged in the manufacturing of mobile devices and in converging Internet and communications industries, with over 123,000 employees in 120 countries, sales in more than 150 countries and global annual revenue of EUR 41 billion (Rs.2,48,050 Cr.) and operating profit of €1.2 billion (Rs.72,600 Cr.) as of 2009. It is the world's largest manufacturer of mobile telephones: its global device market share was about 33% in Q2 2010.
Nokia is a public limited liability company listed on the Helsinki, Frankfurt, and New York stock exchanges. Nokia plays a very large role in the economy of Finland; it is by far the largest Finnish company, accounting for about a third of the market capitalization of the Helsinki Stock Exchange.
There are many competing mobile phone companies in the market and more and more new entrants everyday. Nokia is one of the leading companies in the mobile phone industry and has more than 30 market segments in different countries around the world.
To compare the Nokia’s market line in different countries different websites in four different countries and the main corporate website were observed: Nokia United Kingdom, Nokia India, Nokia Middle East and Nokia Finland the differences were analysed for layout and content.
1. http://www.nokia.fi/ is the site for the Finland.
2. http://www.nokia.co.uk/ is for the United Kingdom
3. http://www.nokia.co.in/ is for India
4. http://www.nokia.com/ is the main corporate site
5. http://www.mea.nokia.com/ is for the middle east countries and Africa
First point worth mentioning is the difference in languages for the various websites of different countries. Observing this we see the localization necessary so that the local people can absorb the content and feel ease to navigate.
To succeed in different markets, knowing people's tastes and habits are very important. For example the Nokia N8 is offered in UK and Finland but is not offered in India and Middle East.
In those countries instead of N8 model Nokia C3 is offered as an excellent tool to remain in touch via multiple email account and twitter all accessible through Nokia C3.
Nokia N8 is yet to be launched and the UK site offers pre-order facility at Streling pound 429 (Rs 30,588). This smart phone will be loaded with new Symbian^3 OS and is being promoted to compete the recent launches of Apple and Samsung in the British market.
The features ofNokia C3 are user friendly home screen with changing the background, theme and icons. Get shortcuts for live Facebook and Twitter feeds right on the home screen and many other dedicated widgets for communication and multimedia. The sites do not mention the offer price of the product in India or Africa. However, this product on .UK is offered at Sterling Pound 109 (Rs 7,772)
Indian Site :
In the home page the main banner is of Nokia C3. On the bottom side there are tabs displaying the three recent products of the company viewed and navigates to the comparison of theirs with Nokia C3
The main banner back ground is light Grey coloured with multiple bright colour decoration effect to signify the trendy looks of C3.
About Nokia page is simple with four sub categories :
On the page of Find Product , the Banner has models representing Europe and India that signifies the association of company to these countries. The drop down list gives selection of activity preference.The page also has feature to compare the various mobile model.
Community page talks of the core values respected by Nokia towards employees, customers and social community in different countries.
Contact opens a new window where Nokia Head Office address is given and link to regional head offices is provided. There is also a link to get feedback on the website errors from the visitors.
Middle East and African Site :
For African continent and the middle east countries there is a common site - www.mea.nokia.com
There are three language options : English, French and Arabic The content in all the three languages is same..
Under the Support tab there is a online support feature for various devices and software services. Select the model and it takes to the online user manual of the product.
This site like Indian version does not offer online shopping.
Finland Site :
http://www.nokia.fi/ is the site for the Finland audience. The language is Finish. The navigation bar is green coloured and shades of green to highlight the selection of tabs. This site like UK site has online purchase facility.
The main banner displays N8 model with the option to buy online @ the rate 499 Euro (Rs 30,190). Other models offered are Nokia E5 @ 279 Euro (Rs 16,880), Nokia N900 @ 489 Euro (Rs 29,585) and Nokia X2 @ 129 Euro (Rs 7,805)
There is a tab to select the mobile model best suited for the specific work profile and the related accessories. It also displays online discount offers. Nokia N90C is offered at Euro 489 (Rs 29,585) against the original price of Euro 549 (Rs 33,215). Nokia 3120 and Nokia 5800 model are also on discount sale.
Corporate Site :
http://www.nokia.com/ is the corporate site of the company. It provides information about the company, history, activities, management, technology etc.
The company information is subdivided into three parts
- Management and
- Story of Nokia.
Career Page informs about the Nokia Values as the foundation for an evolving culture and basis of their operational mode.
A tab with drop down menu is there to select the country to which aspirant candidate wishes to apply. This drop down menu has list of six countries. If US is selected it takes to the HR page of http://www.nokiausa.com/
The Home page has a link to select the national site in which the visitor is interested. If he/ she wants to navigate to a particular national site through the corporate site a check box needs to be selected and then site remembers the computer IP for future.Conclusion :
The websites content is grouped with sensitivity and the background banners represent the link to the location. The websites also adapted sales approaches to national cultures in order to communicate effectively with visitors to the websites.
The main pages are designed in a similar format with some variations in the layout. A visitor can understand the websites info and review the product line.
The observation of these sites show that company is culturally sensitive in their website design, specifically with regard to use of the national / communication language of that country and the buying habits of the customers. In the countries like India and Middle East where people prefer to buy over the counter the company has not given option of the online purchase, which is there in European sites