When Morrisons bought Kiddicare in 2011 one of the main motivations was to take advantage of the latter’s expertise in ecommerce.
Despite the fact that Morrisons is the UK’s fourth biggest grocery retailer, it still doesn’t sell groceries online.
However Morrisons finally took its first foray into ecommerce towards the end of last year with the launch a new Wine Cellar business.
The main feature of the site is product recommendations based on the customer’s answers to a taste test. There are just three questions that ask what type of hot drinks the user prefers, whether they like salt and their preference for sugary soft drinks.
It’s a great idea as shopping for wine online can be tricky if, like me, you don’t always know exactly what you’re looking for.
But does it work and is it easy to use? To find out, I tried the site out...
The taste test
As mentioned, there are only three questions in the taste test, and they’re quite easy to answer.
At first it does seem a bit bizarre, but two short videos at the bottom of the screen explain why the questions are relevant and how it will help to identify wines that you might like.
Once you’ve completed the test you’re given a numerical taste profile (mine was eight), a description of what it means and shown all the wines that match your profile.
There is also a huge list of filter options on the left of the screen so you can select wines by grape, country, price, customer reviews and several other criteria.
Up to this point, Morrisons has created a great user experience that looks like it offers genuine value to its customers.
Morrisons has created bright, attractive product pages that make it simple for customers to add a bottle to the shopping basket.
As well as three images for each wine, it displays a useful product description, stock information, suggestions for accompanying food, product recommendations and customer reviews.
There are even videos explaining the history behind wines from that particular region.
Morrisons has clearly taken a leaf out of Amazon’s book and focused on giving the customer as much information as possible to help them make an informed purchase decision.
One criticism is over the colour of the calls-to-action. In general it’s best to make them big and bright to attract the user’s attention, but Morrisons has chosen to make them all black.
Consistency across the site is definitely a good idea, but I feel they could possibly a bit brighter to make them stand out more.
Adding items to basket
If you add either a full or half case of wine then the site automatically links you to your shopping basket to encourage you to make an immediate purchase. This is a good idea from Morrisons as it encourages impulse buys.
However the process for adding individual bottles isn’t nearly as user-friendly, as none of the wines appear in your shopping basket until you’ve selected 12 bottles.
Instead, you are expected to modify your case in a separate tab at the bottom of the screen, which is quite easy to miss and might confuse some users.
Though Morrisons' checkout is relatively short, there are several annoying issues that it could easily rectify.
The first thing to note is that you are forced to register an account, which is generally a bad idea in ecommerce but is presumably unavoidable when selling alcohol.
That said, it does make the annoying mistake of only giving you the password criteria (must include one digit) once you’ve already entered it and tried to proceed. Also, once you’ve created an account it directs you back to the shopping basket so you have to click back through to the checkout again.
Furthermore, you are then forced to re-enter all your contact details which is incredibly frustrating.
However there are several positive aspects. For example, the checkout is enclosed meaning other navigation tabs don’t distract the user, it uses a postcode lookup tool, and assumes billing and delivery addresses are the same.
But in my opinion the best aspect is the copywriting. Adding to the overall feel of personalisation created by the taste test, Morrisons talks you through the checkout process using informal language.
It's in keeping with the overall style of the site and really improves the user experience.
Free delivery and returns
To encourage a purchase Morrisons offers all customers free delivery and a money back guarantee.
These are great tactics for driving up sales, as hidden or expensive delivery costs and a difficult returns policy are common causes of basket abandonment.
Obviously it is easier for a major business like Morrisons to offer these services to customers than it is for smaller retailers, but it’s still an excellent way of improving conversion rates.
I’m a big fan of Morrisons Cellar as it has managed to create a site that is fun to use and gives useful product information in a way that is easy to digest.
The taste test and informal copywriting are a great way of adding a personal touch to product recommendations, which often seem quite arbitrary on ecommerce sites.
As I didn't actually complete a purchase I can't vouch for whether the recommendations are accurate, but as a customer you do feel you are being given all the tools to make an informed purchase decision, and the use of videos explaining each stage of the purchase journey is a great touch.
Hopefully Morrisons will bring the same level of personalisation to its grocery store when it finally launches later this year.