Luxury retailer The Conran Shop had a website redesign last week, and I've been checking out the new look version.
The site contains a number of expensive designer products, but is it doing enough to showcase these big ticket items?
The homepage has a clean, uncluttered look with good presentation of the featured products. I like the fact that users can click to get the price and details of the products shown, and head straight to the product page if they want to:
This seems obvious, but it is something many sites don't do. Having used lots of valuable homepage space to promote products, it makes sense to lead customers straight to product pages if they are interested.
The drop downs on the homepage can be fiddly, since the links are small and close together, while white text on a black background can be a strain on your eyes.
If you click a sub-category from the drop-down menus, it often doesn't bring up further sub-categories (or should it be sub-sub-categories?) on the next page, just a repetition of the labels from the drop down.
The products from the selected sub-category, in this case tea and coffee are shown, but unlike many e-commerce sites, there are no further filtered navigation options on the left hand side.
This particular category (tea & coffee) brings up 65 products, a mixture of espresso makers, kettles, teapots, mugs and more, but the refinement options, unless you are looking for products from a particular designer or collection, do little to help narrow the search:
The site search works well, returning accurate results and dealing with misspellings. It can actually be a more effective method of narrowing product selection than by browsing the site.
In general, the links are small on the site, and could be made to stand out more. For example, every product on the site search results page above has a blue 'buy now' link, but these links could be clearer. This also means that viewing and clicking the links on an iPad is difficult to do without plenty of pinching and zooming.
Product pages look good, but they are short on detail; delivery charges aren't that easy to find, while there are a few irritations.
For example, there is a colour palette on the product page for this chair, which is a good feature let down by the fact that there is only one image available, so clicking on any colour but crimson will produce a 'no photo available' message.
While there is a broad range of prices on the site, there are many big ticket items, but the product images and options don't do as much as they could to showcase designer furniture.
The product images are high quality, and can also be seen in full screen view, but that's it. When viewing a chair for £5,000, it would be good to see it from different angles. The product pages would benefit from tools such as the 360 view used by Schuh, or the kind of 3D planning tools used by MyDeco.
There are links to add the product to a MyDeco wishlist, but this requires registration for new users, and it can be lengthy process to get from the Conran product page to the room planner on MyDeco.
I found that a number of products were out of stock when I arrived at the product page. While it can be annoying to find that products are unavailable, at least the site gives shoppers the options of an email notification when the product becomes available.
This is a good idea, but the site could also appeal to shoppers who don't want to wait for an email by suggesting alternatives to the selected item, or else checking offline stock and pointing shoppers to the nearest store.
The pop-ups are slightly annoying too. Shoppers have to first click the basket link to leave an email address before typing it into the box, while they have to click the small cross to close the pop-up, instead of simply clicking elsewhere on the page.
Once products are added to the basket, the basket link at the top right of the page is too small, and it isn't possible to mouse over to get a summary of contents and charges. Shopping basket links should be easier for users to find.
The site handles the issue of registration smoothly, providing a login option for existing users, while new customers can simply enter an email address and continue on to the checkout.
Later in the process, customers are offered the option of creating an account, which is a good way of capturing customer details. However, the site asks customers to open a pop-up window to see the benefits of registration, but this information would have been better explained in a couple of bullet points next to the tick box.
A contact number is visible throughout the checkout process, which is good practice, as it offers reassurance to customers and a clear channel for getting an answer to any questions about their order.
The process has not been enclosed and the top navigation options are still in place throughout the payment process.
This is now an unusual sight for website redesigns, as the top navigation bar offers a distraction for customers when retailers would like them to focus on entering address and payment details, and there are a number of links which will take them out of the process altogether.
The new Conran Shop website generally does the basics reasonably well; navigation and site search is functional, most information that customers will need is accessible, and the checkout process is smooth enough.
As Matt Curry pointed out in a previous post though, many websites have yet to deliver a luxury e-commerce experience. The Conran Shop website doesn't really differentiate itself from most other e-commerce sites, and doesn't do as much as it could to sell big ticket items.
Matt points out that luxury brands need to do more than simply deliver a standard e-commerce experience, and should seek to delight customers and to carry some of the in store experience online.