Australian fashion retailer David Jones recently launched a new website as part of a wider effort to improve its digital offering.

David Jones’ old website was unveiled to the public back in 2010 but failed to really take off, thanks in part to a number of usability issues.

Problems included a poorly designed shopping cart, a lack of product information and no on-site search function.

To make sure the new site doesn't repeat these mistakes, David Jones has hired a highly regarded fashion photographer to manage the imagery and copywriting for the site’s 90,000 products and is working with IBM to develop the backend.

It’s hoped that the new site will lift online sales from below 1% of revenue to 10% or above.

We have previously flagged up ASOS and Quiksilver as examples of shopping basket best practice, so using the same criteria I looked at how David Jones compared...

The criteria

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.

Product pages and shopping cart

The product pages have a simple design that makes it easy to see the product options and information.

Each item has several high quality product images and the ‘Add to bag’ call-to-action is the most prominent item on the page which makes it easy for the customer to get to the next step in the purchase process.

However, there are several areas that could be improved. For example, the product information just sticks to the basic details and doesn’t do much to sell the item to the customer.

Furthermore, the product pages don’t offer alternative products ideas or user reviews. Reviews are a particularly important sales driver in e-commerce so David Jones is missing a trick by not including them. 

When you add an image to the cart a dropdown appears which gives you the option of checking out or viewing your cart. This is useful as it catches your eye so you don’t have to search the page for your next option.

The shopping bag contains a decent summary of your order including an image and confirmation of the size and colour of the item.  

The price is also displayed prominently, as are the CTAs and the fact that it is a secure checkout, but it doesn’t include delivery information.

On the homepage I noticed that David Jones is offering free delivery until the middle of December, however it doesn’t reiterate this point on the product page or shopping cart which means it’s failing to take advantage of a major selling point. 


David Jones avoids the common pitfall of forcing visitors to register and instead allows guest checkout.

It also sells the benefit of creating an account later in the checkout process by saying it makes future purchases “even faster,” which is a good way of encouraging signups. 

The checkout process is fairly simple and doesn’t require much form filling, however there are several aspects that could be improved.

Firstly, though it assumes that billing and delivery address are the same it doesn’t have a postcode lookup tool.

Also when I entered the address incorrectly the error message it displayed was quite vague, so I wasn’t exactly sure which information needed to be altered which was quite frustrating.

Another problem, in my opinion, is the colour scheme. It’s trying to be clean and simple, but grey text on a grey background isn’t very easy to read. 

Finally, it only accepts store and bankcards with no options for alternative payment methods such as PayPal.

Delivery options

As mentioned, David Jones is currently offering free delivery until the middle of December, which is a great selling point.

But rather than trumpet this to encourage sales it has taken the unusual step of failing to mention delivery options or charges at any point during the shopping basket or checkout.

The only time it mentions delivery is on the payment page, which confirms that there is no delivery charge but does so in a rather obscure way.

As you can see, the checkout deducts the $9.95 delivery cost first before adding it on again, with the result being that shipping is free.

It would be a much better idea just to state on every page in the checkout process that shipping is free, as it’s a great promotion so why not promote it?

This would not only clarify shipping costs to customers but might encourage them to buy more products as they’ll want to take advantage of the offer.

In conclusion...

David Jones’ new website appears to be a massive improvement on the last version and it ticks many of the boxes for product page and checkout best practice.

The product images look good and the CTAs are consistent throughout the purchase journey, which makes it easy for the customer to work out what the next step is.

Furthermore, the checkout process is quick and form filling is kept to a minimum, which will help reduce basket abandonment.

However there are also several areas that I think need to be improved.  

Firstly, product information is extremely basic which is a missed opportunity not only for improving SEO but also for selling the product to customers.

The product pages could also be improved by adding an ‘Other customers bought’ or recommendations section, as well as customer reviews.

However, the development process is still on-going so it's possible that these features will be added as David Jones upgrades the site.

But in the short term, David Jones should really be making more of its free delivery promotion. It’s potentially a great sales driver so failing to mention it is a bizarre decision.

David Moth

Published 1 November, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Mike Hudson

It surely must still be in early release mode as almost all of the page titles and image ALT attributes referring to "StoreName" rather than David Jones... You gotta love those CMS's

over 5 years ago


Adriane McDermott

David, thank you for your thoughtful suggestions and review of the first stage of our new online site which launches next week. We are very excited about the site and our progress over a short period of time and will be actively working to enhance functionality and add even more products and brands over the coming months. We are already acting quickly on some of your feedback such as increasing the prominence the free delivery promotion. We also have plans for adding ratings and reviews, delivery and payment options, and cross-selling product suggestions in the very near future. Stay tuned and thanks for your support and for shopping our store!

over 5 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@Adriane, thanks for your comment. I'll check back on the site in a few months to see how it's developed!

over 5 years ago


Paul Donovan

Gawd you guys have a heck of a lot of work to do before this comes anywhere close to industry leaders like ASOS and Amazon.

There's frankly so much that needs to be sorted here it's hard to know where to start, but let's start with the home page. Do you have search on this site I wondered? I had to work hard to find out you do, search is almost hidden in the top right hand corner. Why? You have a mass of real estate to the right of “David Jones”, that’s where it should be front and center so it’s obvious, it would probably be the most used area of your web site as it is for most ecommerce web sites. Have you actually tried searching for something? It’s woeful in terms of speed and results. It takes over 30 seconds, in some cases longer to get any results back – try searching for Paul Smith for example. There’s only 176 items related to Paul Smith in some way, but it takes the better part of a minute to get the results back. Hey, guess what I’m gone in that time, gone somewhere else because frankly that’s ridiculous. Let’s take a look at the results that get returned, hmmm, the first one, which should be what, you tell me, that’s a book by Peter FitzSimons – what on earth has this to do with Paul Smith?? Oh hang on I see, it’s got the word Smith in the title, but this comes up first. You have brand selection on the left hand side as a drop down filter, why when I search are you not firstly doing a brand match to see if what I entered does an exact match to a brand and if so then display that? The order of the brands on that filter by the way seems to be random to me, perhaps by popularity, but that wouldn’t make sense there are 4 Paul Smith “brands”. That’s going to make it really hard when I’m searching for a Paul Smith product using these links to find what I want, looks to me like you haven’t sorted out your product hierarchy yet.
While we’re on the product results page please tell me, why does your sort filter have the options “product first” and “non-product first”. What is a “non-product” is this something you actually sell, non products. You also have the options “newest” and “oldest”, I’m going to be pedantic here, because people will wonder, what is an “oldest” product and why would I want to sort by this? The sorting btw doesn’t change the order of the results, so doesn’t appear to be working.
There is as I said a lot that needs work, I haven’t the time to go into everything here, but I’ll list a few things quickly:
- On Chrome & IE the “Brands” link in your mega menu doesn’t work
- In the create an account page it says “Complete the field to create your new account” – I hate typos, more to the point I find them inexcusable, you don’t have that many non-merched/search pages to check now
- Why when I search for “Summer Fashion Basics” do I get over 2,800 products when your marched page has 43, search should find the marched page
- When I move the cursor just below “Sign In” the shopping basket comes up
- The article mentions free shipping not being highlighted, as soon as you delve into the site, search results, product pages it’s not there – this is a critical call to action, you know the number 1 barrier to purchase online is shipping charges, giving people may be arriving at your site from SEO/other links the message needs to be everywhere. And btw why is this only going until 14 December? There’s plenty of other ways to push people into stores once past Aus Post’s last date for Christmas delivery. Online should either be free all the time or when you spend $x as an incentive to increase basket size. Do you know how much a product you sell instore costs to get there (add up logistics, store costs, employee costs, etc.) and you’ll get an idea – stuff sold from your warehouse doesn’t incur these store costs, so do you discount that off your online prices that sell straight from your DC?
This site does not inspire me, it looks like a work in progress and it shouldn’t be, you should have taken the time to present something that can stand up in the market, I may be very wrong but this has no chance in its current form against the likes of ASOS, Nordstrom, Amazon, etc. etc. it just looks like Australian online BAU.

over 5 years ago


Sam Heffernan

Good summary Paul.

Im sceptical too as to why it was launched when the site is still a work in progress. Why launch when you're not even ready?

Using Chrome, an attempt to load any page once you're in the "store" takes a very long time for the server to respond and pull up requested page, almost timing out.

Not going to do wonders for conversion, let alone drawing customers to the site.

I have tested this twice (once when this article was first published and again this evening Sydney time).

Frustrating that Aussie retailers have fallen so far behind. Will they ever catch up? Or is it too late? Sadly, it might be time for them to peril.

over 5 years ago


Paul Donovan, Consultant at Paul Donovan & Company

I think many of them are too late. The reason Nordstrom has done so well is that it was an early adopter and it has built up all that online IP and learnt from experience since it started back in, wait for it, 1994. They took the right approach back then, incubating it by letting the guys who were in charge of their catalogue run the operation, free for the most part from the bureaucracy of the rest of the organisation. Much later, 10 years later, they started to consider their multi-channel strategy.

This was the same approach we adopted at REDgroup retail (the web sits of Borders APAC, A&R and Whitcoulls NZ, before administration). The online business was allowed to establish and flourish without trying to fully integrate it with the rest of the business from the start.

The issue DJs and Myer, et al, have is that because they have started very, very late there's so much pressure now that they have to deliver big time and on every front. Their ambitions are set too high and the core e-commerce operations don't get the focus; witness the impact of Click Frenzy last week, bringing the web sites of these companies to their knees. Add to this that these organisations have little or no relevant e-commerce experience (it just doesn't exist down here outside the likes of pure players such as Catchoftheday and Kogan) and it would be a safe bet that they won't ever catch up, unless they do something radical - an acquisition of the latter would actually make the most sense at this point.

over 5 years ago

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