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Sportswear brand New Balance recently unveiled several new e-commerce sites for its US and UK brands.
Alongside the main New Balance brand there is a UK site for Warrior and US sites for Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham.
Built using Demandware’s platform, the aim is to create scalable e-commerce offerings that will help the company with its plans for global growth.
The homepages certainly look impressive, but what is the purchase process like?
We have previously flagged up Quiksilver as an example of shopping basket best practice, so using the same criteria I looked at how New Balance stacks up...
These are the main points that sites need to follow to ensure a great user experience during the checkout process:
- Clear calls-to-action. The user shouldn’t have to search around for what to do next.
- Standard delivery costs are made clear. Unclear delivery costs continue to be one of the key reasons why visitors abandon their checkout process.
- Clear product details. Alongside a thumbnail, customers want to know the size, colour and quantity.
- Total price is made clear. As well as knowing the delivery cost, customers need to know the total amount they are paying with no hidden costs.
- Delivery options within the basket. Customers should be allowed to choose the delivery option before the checkout process, thus ensuring they know what they are paying and the delivery period.
- Secure shopping is made clear. Though e-commerce is no longer a new concept people still need reassurance that the transaction is secure.
- Clear payment options. Not all visitors have a Visa card – are there options for lesser know cards or PayPal?
- Don't force users to register before checkout. This is a great way to cause people to abandon their transaction. ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account.
The product pages are well designed, though with a few minor amends the site could create a greater sense of urgency.
Product information is all clearly spelled out, however on my screen the text used was quite small and difficult to read. This is a missed opportunity to really sell the product benefits to consumers.
The use of images is much better though, with each product shown from a range of different angles. You can also view a close-up by hovering the mouse of the product image.
Photography can be particularly important for fashion retailers as shoppers obviously cannot see items close up or try them on as they would in stores, but good quality high-resolution images of products can help to overcome these limitations.
New Balance also gives stock information on the product pages and uses a bright red ‘Add to cart’ CTA which helps it stand out against the rest of the page.
One criticism however is that the CTA only turns red once you have selected your size, so before that it is quite easy to miss.
New Balance avoids a major pitfall by allowing guest checkout. As we often point out, forcing users to register is one of the main causes of basket abandonment as users see it as inconvenient and worry about their personal data.
The checkout is also upfront about delivery costs (ordinarily it charges £4.95 but is offering free shipping at the moment) and the total price for all items.
Other useful information is also included, such as a progress bar and customer service telephone number and call centre opening hours. And CTAs clearly stand out so you know what the next step is.
However there is only one delivery method available, so no choice to speed up delivery if you need the items quicker than three to five working days.
Another annoyance is that the checkout asks you to input your full address but then on the next screen uses postcode lookup to verify that the details are correct. Why not just use postcode lookup in the first place?
Furthermore, New Balance only accepts payment via Visa or MasterCard credit card. This is quite a big flaw as many people prefer to use debit cards or even PayPal when buying goods online.
Restricting it to just credit card transactions is likely to put some customers off or prevent them from completing the transaction.
New Balance has created a decent checkout experience using Demandware’s platform, offering a convenient and fast way to make a purchase.
The process is kept to a minimum by allowing guest checkout and only having three screens to completion, which reduces the likelihood for consumers to get bored and abandon the purchase.
However there are a few design issues that New Balance should address to make the process even easier for consumers.
For example, there is only one delivery option and payments can only be made using a credit card. This is quite restrictive and is likely to cause some potential customers to drop out.
Furthermore there are no reassurances that the checkout is secure and product descriptions are poorly displayed on the product details. But these are fairly minor issues, and overall consumers should find New Balance’s checkout quick and easy to use.