Amazon was rated the top online toy retailer in a usability study of 12 toy websites, which found much room for improvement in the sector.
According to the Brandbank study, toy retailers are not doing enough on product pages, and could be using of product images and videos more effectively. Just four retailers are using product videos, while very few are providing multiple images.
The overall 'winner' was Amazon, closely followed by Early Learning Centre and Argos, while WHSmith and Toymaster were given the lowest marks. No site scored more than 5.5 out of 10, which suggests plenty of room for improvement.
Toy retailers' websites are not doing enough to showcase products through imagery according to the report, with very few using multiple product photos with any consistency.
A single product image may be OK for some toys, but for many people need to see the back and front, which bits move, what accessories are included, and so on. Most sites show a photo, but one photo is often not enough.
For example, this toy kitchen on Hamleys has just one view on the product. There are two photos, but the only difference is the addition of the little girl, though this does at least provide some idea of scale.
The problem is that this photo doesn't tell me a lot about the product, except how it looks from the front. If I'm going to spend £150, I want to know what it looks like from other angles, which parts move, and the accessories that come with it. This isn't even explained in the accompanying product description.
A better example can be found on the Early Learning Centre website. There are five different product photos, including one which lays out the accessories that are included with the toy.
Videos are few and far between on toy retailers' sites, with only four of the featured sites using them to showcase products.
Of the sites that featured video, none are using it to any great extent. The video used also tended to be taken from adverts for DVDs or games and consoles, like this example from Play.com:
Video could be a very valuable tool for toy retailers, as it can enable them to demonstrate toys, show customers how they work and allow them to see products in motion.
The kind of instructional videos used by retailers like Simply Piste and Kiddicare would be worth trying. In the case of Simply Group, providing these videos for its ski range increased conversions by 25%.
Retailers need to answer customers' questions about the toys on product pages, and while detailed descriptions and product images are useful, videos can answer these questions more effectively.