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September Rankings of Top 50 Retail Websites

Big multi-channel players suffer from worst performing websites By Glynn Davis


September Rankings of Top 50 Retail Websites

Big multi-channel players suffer from worst performing websites By Glynn Davis

Propping up the bottom of the table of the top 50 UK retail websites are Halfords and Mothercare that both regard multi-channel as crucial to their future success but perversely have the worst performing sites, according to tests undertaken during September for The Retail Bulletin.

Mothercare finds itself plumb bottom with a score of 2.12 out of 10 while Halfords does almost as badly in 49th spot with a score of 2.24 following its massive fall of 37 places since last month.

The list of sites tested has been created jointly by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company Sitemorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer’s site to generate a ranked table.

Lawrence Shaw, founder of Sitemorse, attributes the demise of Halfords on the “sheer volume of its broken links - they have by far the most broken links of any retailer online and have been dragged down the table because of the scale of this problem”. The issue includes failed links to pictures, to other websites, and email links that do not work.

Not only has Halfords failed badly on its website’s performance but a recent email marketing campaign that it ran also had the same issue with its ‘landing page’ containing lots of images but all the links to them were broken.

The vast majority of the images on its site also had no text descriptions. This not only means the site fails to be picked up by the search engines but it also breaks all the rules on accessibility to visually impaired people, which is now a legal requirement. “You can’t get more basic errors than this,” says Shaw.

Mothercare also has a problem with broken links and its most glaring error is a strange failure to link to the company’s own jobs section and to the site of sister company Early Learning Centre. It also suffers from poor scores in all the other areas tested by Sitemorse.

The issue for retailers like Halfords and Mothercare is that their website suppliers frequently defend the poor performance of the sites by suggesting that no problem exists, otherwise customers would have surely complained. Shaw argues: “The reality is that customers don’t call to complain because they instead simply shop elsewhere at a rival.”

A recent report suggested broken links are one of the biggest contributors to destroying confidence in a website. And in a recent Forrester Research report, 87 per cent of shoppers stated that they would not return to a site that gave them a poor online experience, and they would damagingly tell all their friends about its deficiencies.

Another leading light in the multi-channel world is Argos, which dropped 21 places to 32nd spot with a score of 3.36. This should be a big disappointment to its parent Company Home Retail Group as sister company Homebase also scored very badly with only 2.64 out of 10, which led to it falling 15 places to 41st spot.

In contrast, the biggest riser this month was Staples that moved up 34 places into seventh spot. Although its accessibility score could have been better, Shaw says: “It looks like they have got their act together and all the links to its global sites were working. Maybe Staples should recommend their website provider to Halfords.”

Another strong performer was Debenhams that moved up 23 places to second spot with a credible score of 6.54 although this was not good enough to displace DFS from retaining its place at the top of the table with a score of 6.98. This kept it on top of things despite it being a significantly lower score than the impressive 9.70 it achieved last month.

To see the rankings click here.

We are keen to hear your thoughts on the Top 50 table - whether you agree with the constituents or you think there are companies that should be included instead. Please get in touch at and we’ll see what we can do.

About Sitemorse
Sitemorse checks compliance, measures performance and tests function of your websites, by reading content, checking code and reviewing infrastructure to reduce risk caused by on-line failure. From single page monitoring to a complete site review, Sitemorse provides both management summaries and detailed technical reports (down to the line in the code).


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