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How much longer can the websites of biggest retailers’ under-deliver

Major name retailers continue to disappoint with the performance of their websites as shown by the results from the Q3 testing of the Retail 500 of top UK retailers’ online stores, which shows a plethora of big operators scoring well below average. By Glynn Davis


How much longer can the websites of biggest retailers’ under-deliver

In the bottom 50 worst performing sites there are some extremely big names including Boots, B&Q, Argos, Mothercare, Halfords, JD Williams, Phones 4u, Disney, Waterstone’s and that all score less than 2.5 out of 10. This is well below the seven out of 10 that specialist website-testing company Sitemorse regards as a decent target for all retailers to aim for.

The testing of the 500 sites has been undertaken by Sitemorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer’s sites to generate a ranked table based on checks to compliance, measurement of performance and the testing of the function of each of the websites.

The overall performance was down on Q2 when 30 retailers scored seven out of 10 whereas this quarter only 24 managed to reach this benchmark. Among this top 50 batch there is a smattering of large retailers, but what is noticeable is the high number of smaller merchants that are delivering strong online performances.

Lawrence Shaw, ceo of Sitemorse, says: “Giving the customer a superior online experience is not just the domain of the big guns and those able to commit large resources to their online channel. The numerous small retailers scoring well suggest that money is not the answer to doing well online but that it is more about being agile and constantly monitoring the sites and continuously making adjustments to them.”

This is clearly the strategy undertaken by DFS and Farmfoods that both stand unchanged at the top of the table with the former scoring an impressive 9.32 and the latter 9.10. Directly below them is a line-up that signifies the power of the smaller player with Vivi, Asprey, Scalextric, Sofa Workshop, Agent Provocateur and Suits You all scoring well.

The latter was among the largest rises in Q3, moving up 298 places to eighth spot with a score of 7.84. The other big mover in the top 50 was Early Learning Centre (ELC) that jumped 264 places to 33rd spot.

This makes it a massively better performer than its sister company Mothercare that languishes in 434th spot with a score of only 2.18. “It’s an excellent performance from ELC but it is rather surprising that the two sites perform so radically differently. It will therefore be interesting to see in the Q4 Retail 500 testing if they have more aligned scores, which would suggest an integrated approach being taken to the business,” suggests Shaw.

In contrast the sister sites of Kingfisher Group - B&Q and Screwfix - both perform to similar levels. Unfortunately this is at a disappointingly poor level as they score only 2.30 out of 10, which places them well down in the table.

Among this batch of weak performers are a trio of new entrants to the bottom 50, with Levi Strauss falling 215 places to 453rd spot, Ryman slipping 228 places to 463rd spot, and QS Group collapsing by 433 places to 460th spot as it scored only 1.78 this quarter compared with a much more creditable 7.20 in Q2.

The final ranked table includes only 474 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.

To see the rankings click here

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