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Boots lead in the multi-channel race

UK retailers including Boots, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and Waterstones offer the best multi-channel experience across their online, mobile and in-store platforms according to a new study.

OMNICHANNEL

Boots lead in the multi-channel race

The 2011 Multi-Channel Retail Report from user experience consultancy, Webcredible, revealed that Boots was top with an 83% score, with Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and Waterstones following in joint second with scores of 81%.

Webcredible focused on a wider set of guidelines aimed at evaluating user experience across multiple channels to incorporate additional platforms including mobile and the in-store experience, in a move to encourage the industry to think and act in a more coordinated manner for both offline and digital platforms. These leading retailers had previously performed well in Webcredible’s Online High Street reports in recent years, but the report shows many others with well performing websites have slipped down the chart under the new cross-channel review.

According to this year’s report, the majority of retailers scored well with 9 out of 15 companies scoring over 50 per cent for their user experience across their online, mobile and in-store channels. It is clear however that all companies could do much more to offer a more unified experience. The bottom five retailers, including Superdrug, Hamleys and Currys scored poorly due to inadequate mobile usability and a lack of a mobile-optimised experience.

Analysing the cross-channel experience of 15 of the UK’s leading high street retailers, Webcredible evaluated each against 15 best practice guidelines.

Most websites scored well with regards to effective browsing, providing a clear check out process and absence of hidden delivery costs, demonstrating that retailers recognise the need to browse, choose and pay for products quickly and easily, particularly with the onset of new features such as product comparison pages, user reviews and ratings, or buying guides.

Companies are failing to realise the importance of other well-established guidelines that make it easier for users to manage search results appropriately. Poor implementation of search filters continue across most retailers and as such there remains to be room for improvement on this fundamental web usability guideline.

Turning its attention to mobile, Webcredible’s 2011 report highlighted important functions that retailers need to provide in order to keep up with the changing market demands. Features such as a store locator were considered important and extra points were awarded to sites or apps that use GPS and interactive maps to direct customers. Here, Apple proved successful, offering customers the opportunity to make reservations for one-on-one appointments. Debenhams’ personalised app and barcode scanner also scored extra points for its ability to provide customers with new ways to find and buy products. Six out of the 15 companies however possessed neither an app or mobile site indicating a need for improvement.

“The explosion of smartphones and mobile internet usage, particularly to shop has completely transformed retailer strategy within the store, retailers must first ensure their customers are aware of each channel available to them. Whatever channel customers choose to use, there should be clear signals about other buying methods available throughout the shopping experience to give the best level of customer satisfaction.” says Trenton Moss, MD and Founder, Webcredible.

“Those that have apps and mobile sites need to do more to draw attention to their existence, and as they do, this messaging must be consistent with the brand itself. Retailers need to be harnessing innovative technology available to them in order to continue to merge the boundaries between each multiple channel.” concludes Moss.

The Retail Bulletin's 3rd Multichannel Retailing Summit, sponsored by eDigitalResearch, is on 1st February 2012. Click here for full details and registration.

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