According to the Office for National Statistics, 64% of all Internet users have made a purchase online. With 63% of households on broadband connections, shopping on the Internet has never been more convenient. This is illustrated by the amount of money being spent on Internet purchases. Online spend has been steadily rising over the years and UK consumers have spent £31 billion so far this calendar year, with the busiest trading period at Christmas yet to come. By April 2010, online spending is expected to almost double to £60 billion per year.
Historically, such phenomenal growth hasn’t been matched on the high street, and this past year, with many economies feeling the effects of the recession, the difference has only become more marked. While many big brands have disappeared from the high street, UK e-retailing has grown 15% year-on-year during 2009. So despite the economic downturn, the Internet as a channel for commerce is stronger than ever and retailers are responding by expanding and investing in their online presence.
For this survey, Webcredible investigated the usability of the websites of 20 of the UK’s leading high street shops. Last year, the top high street retailers weren’t doing enough to maximise their share of this potential revenue in preparation for Christmas. This year, Webcredible has decided to re-investigate against the same essential usability criteria to see if there’s been any change in the run-up to Christmas this year.
The survey found that four of the top scoring sites have increased their position dramatically this year – 9 points in the case of John Lewis, 15 for Woolworths and M&S, and Boots has increased the most with 16 points difference. M&S had relaunched its site just before this report was written, incorporating quite a few user experience improvements. It’s interesting to note that since Woolworths has become an online-only proposition, there seems to be an improved strategy in place for user experience. Additionally, Mothercare has also improved by 10 points this year.
The dramatic changes observed in these four websites have undoubtedly contributed to the wholesale increase in the average across the sample. Whilst this is good news for these particular sites, it’s clear that the many sites scoring in the 50s and 60s can do much more to improve the usability of their online offering.
Click here to read the report