Online Experience Index – Appliance Retailers

June 17, 2014 3:34 pm

Online Experience Index – Appliance Retailers



JUNE 2014 – Appliance ecommerce sites

Introduction

With the Online Experience Index, we aim to identify which ecommerce sites are leading the way in providing a powerful customer experience.

In March we reviewed fashion e-commerce sites and found variation in the levels of usability between the sites, as well as identifying some recurring trends and issues.

Following on from March’s review of clothing retail websites, this report reviews the websites of four retailers of appliances: Appliances Online, Appliances Direct, Currys and Argos. Reviews were performed in the week of 19th May 2014.

In addition to the main Index, we have also included scores for accessibility, mobile and persuasion, emotion and trust (PET) techniques, to explore a broader scope of the online experience.

Headline findings

As expected in this mature, competitive sector, sites featured relevant and engaging content with detailed product information.

  • There is room for improvement in the checkout, where forms need to improve.
  • One retailer failed to have a mobile friendly site, and another had a site that annoyingly jumped between mobile and desktop layouts.
  • Filters were generally well-implemented, featuring a comprehensive range of criteria.
  • Shipping costs were communicated well on all sites, within the main user journey.
  • All retailers used a range of PET techniques without overwhelming the customer.

 

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The Index, by facet

Taking each facet of the user journey individually, we found variation in the usability of each website. This variation is apparent when looking at the individual ratings. The following diagrams illustrate the best and worst individual ratings by facet of the user journey.

Homepage

Appliances Online 66% Currys 93%Most sites successfully communicated their brand and purpose, with relevant and engaging content on the homepage. All sites, with the exception of Currys, feature a carousel on the homepage, but none provide a clear way for the user to pause the current state if users would like more time to view and interact with it.

Navigation

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Navigation was generally well implemented on each site, with the top-level menu maintaining a consistent position throughout the user journey. Labels in the navigation were typically descriptive of the content within, avoiding complicated terminology. However, the order in which items were listed within the main navigation and drop- down menus did not always appear clear or logical.

Search

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A search function was available on all four sites and was located in a clear and consistent position throughout. All sites except Argos offered search suggestions whilst the user is typing.

Most sites provided help in the event of no results or a misspelled search term, with Currys and Appliances Online providing search results based on the correct spelling of common search terms. Appliances Direct, however, advises the user to check their spelling is correct, but does not display the user’s search term for reference.

Filters

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Filters were generally well organised on all sites, allowing the user to filter by a comprehensive range of criteria, but there was some variation in how easily users could select and deselect filter options. For example, the filters on Appliances Online use colour to complement each item in the ‘Colour’ and ‘Energy rating’ categories. In contrast, on the Argos site, users must update their results each time they change their filter selection.

Checkout Flow and Layout

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Overall, the checkout process was smooth on each site, with users able to move backwards and forwards to amend details from previous stages of checkout. Appliances Online was unique in that the whole checkout process was on one page, rather than divided into pages for delivery and payment details. Appliances Online and Appliances Direct allowed users to checkout without registering or signing in.

PET – persuasion, emotion & trust

We also looked out for ways in which the sites had incorporated persuasion, emotion and trust (PET) techniques into the user journey, based on an extensive list which covered areas such as social proof, salience and gamification.

PET

A good range of techniques are employed whilst not overwhelming the user.

One area in which all sites scored well was social proof, as all four sites provide customer reviews for products which incorporate star ratings and demographics of the reviewers.

Sites tended to perform less well in terms of scarcity, with only Appliances Online featuring a limited time offer.

Unlike the main OEI scores, PET scores are not given as a percentage; instead, the scores refer to how many instances of PET are found on each site. This is because a score of 100% would not necessarily be a good thing, as too many PET techniques can be overwhelming and distract from the purpose of the site. Similarly, PET techniques can be applied inappropriately, in which case sites were deducted one point for each instance.

The diagram above shows the overall PET scores for each website, along with their strongest and weakest area. The area shaded orange identifies the range of scores which are likely to be effective whilst not overwhelming the user.

Accessibility

Some points within the main Index also identify potential accessibility issues. This score is not intended to provide any in-depth assessment of accessibility, but gives a general idea of how well these sites are providing an accessible experience.

  1. Currys: 77%
  2. Argos: 72%
  3. Appliances Online: 66%
  4. Appliances Direct: 57%

Some items from the OEI identified as being important in terms of accessibility were fully implemented by all four sites. For example, the product titles in the baskets on all sites are descriptive enough to stand alone without the image, and long forms are broken down into manageable stages.

On the other hand, there are aspects which sites need to improve on, such as ensuring that buttons which are constructed from an image have appropriate alt attributes, and that when form errors occur, focus is set to the first erroneous field, so users can rectify the error immediately and tab to the next field.

Mobile

As Appliances Direct has no form of mobile site, it was excluded from this measure. The remaining three sites were scored against 30 touchpoints. The following section gives each site’s overall mobile score, along with an overview of their mobile offering.

Currys: 66%

The Currys site is responsive which allows for a seamless experience between mobile and desktop. The content is well optimised for mobile, ensuring that the homepage is uncluttered and simple to navigate.

However, interaction with product images is not intuitive as common gestures cannot be used.

Argos: 63%

Users are able to interact with images on the Argos site using gestures such as pinch and swipe, providing a more intuitive experience.

However, the navigation menus are only directly available from tiles on the homepage, meaning that users must navigate back to the homepage from where they are in order to find another product category.

Appliances Online: 43%

Appliances Online does not provide a full mobile site. Instead, the homepage, search, menus and checkout are available on the mobile site, as are listings and product pages for some featured products.

However, when viewing full product listings and most product pages, the user is directed to the desktop site. The mobile pages available are well implemented but the user journey is difficult due to the transition between mobile and desktop versions of the site.

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