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Bathstore in turnaround to join top performing online retailers in Q1

Bathroom specialist Bathstore has achieved such a dramatically improved performance from its website in Q1 2014 that it has one of the UK’s best performing sites, according to the latest results from the quarterly testing of the Retail 500 of top UK online stores.By Glynn Davis


Bathstore in turnaround to join top performing online retailers in Q1

The private equity-owned multi-channel business has seen its website move up a sizeable 309 places into fifth spot this quarter with an impressive score of 7.38 out of 10, which compares with a mere 2.60 it scored in Q4 2013.

This makes it the highest climber in Q1 and by taking its score to over 7.00 it has achieved a level of performance that all retailers should aspire to but at present very few manage to deliver. Only seven of the 500 sites tested achieved this benchmark score.

The testing of the 500 sites is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that, page-by-page reads the first 125 pages of each retailer’s sites to generate a ranked table based on checks to Quality, User Experience, Accessibility, Performance and SEO capability of each of the websites.

Lawrence Shaw, chief executive of Sitemorse, says: “The performance of Bathstore is testament to the work undertaken by its owners [Endless] who have set about improving all areas of the business. This shows that it is possible for all retailers to dramatically improve the performance of their sites with some commitment to the process.”

The move of Bathstore into the top echelon of the table highlights Q1 as a very strong quarter for home-wares retailers, with seven of these merchants now making up the top 10. Pownall Carpets holds its second-placed spot, KD Beds is in fourth spot, Sofa Workshop in sixth, Beds Direct in seventh, Hammonds Furniture in ninth, and Rapid Hardware in 10th help make up the coterie that have commandeered the top of the table.

However, none of them has failed to topple fashion business Anoushka London that remains at the top of the table with the same score as it achieved in Q3 and Q4. This consistency suggests the company has a strong handle on the running of its website, which is helping to keep it well ahead of the competition.

Second-placed Pownall Carpets scored a creditable 8.12 out of 10 but this still leaves a big gap between it and the leader in Q1. Although these top two placed retailers remain unchanged from Q4 there has been much change elsewhere at the top.

In the top 20, newcomers alongside Bathstore include: W Boyes & Co, which moved up 81 places; Jarrold & Sons up 99; Hammonds Furniture up 215; Futon Company up 23; Fired Earth up 14; Racing Green up 28; Scrivens up 22; and Fortnum & Mason also up 22.

Among the other big climbers this quarter are some major names including: Armani up 162 places to 72nd spot, DFS up 164 to 126th, Next up 217 to 161st, and JD Williams up 146 to 253rd.

In contrast, there were some serious fallers, with WH Smith down 117 places to 208th spot, Robert Dyas down 240 to 258th, Primark Stores down 238 to 290th, Toys R Us down 160 to 304th, and Carphone Warehouse down 130 to 346th place.

The final ranked table for Q4 includes only 447 retailers because merchants were excluded from the testing if they used assistive technology such as JavaScript, which breaks the general “rules of accessibility” of internet sites, according to Sitemorse. This represents an improvement on Q4 when only 445 were included.

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