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Last week, Gap revamped its e-commerce site, bringing together all four of its brands onto one property with a single checkout function. We've taken a look to see how it measures up.
For such a well known retailer, Gap has been slow to get its act together online, and we have had cause to criticise the company in the past.
Gap's previous, image-heavy site meant that the company was not ranking well in Google for non-brand name terms, and even on specific searches for products it stocks. It also didn't feel it needed a site search tool.
Gap has finally decided to fix matters, and has linked all its brands together on the same site; Gap, OldNavy, Piperlime and Banana Republic.
Nice and simple, and a big improvement on the previous version. The site has tabs so users can easily switch between the four brands, while navigation is consistent across all four stores.
Once you have clicked on a section of the Gap store, the top navigation bar remains in place, while you can find sub-categories on the left hand side of each page.
The site could use a few more options to drill down into the search results, helping users to narrow their searches. I can filter results by size, which is useful, but still leaves me with a lot of results to look through for some products.
Gap has finally added a site search tool, so users have this option for finding products.
The search worked well on the examples I tried, without too many irrelevant results, and Gap has provided options to sort results by category, colour and price.
These pages are clear enough, with the product, price and details displayed prominently. In the case of clothes and shoes, the available sizes are highlighted to the right, which is useful to avoid customers choosing out of stock items.
It can be difficult when shopping for clothes and shoes online to get an idea of whether or not a product will suit you. To help with this, good product images are essential.
This is something Gap does well here, providing a tool to zoom in to different areas of the product. Users can also enlarge photos and see items in the various colours on offer.
Omissions from the product pages include details of delivery charges and the store's returns policy, something which is especially crucial for clothing retailers, as customers may need to return clothes which don't fit.
All this information is available on the site, but can only be found through links on the product page. As delivery charges and returns policies can be major factors in the decision to purchase, this information should be easily accessible.
Basket / Checkout
The shopping basket sets out most of the information needed, and details the delivery options and charges, and provides links to the store's returns policy, which should have happened on the product page.
The checkout link is fairly easy to find, but perhaps could be made clearer to eliminate any room for confusion in the customer's mind.
The checkout is not so impressive though, and takes a few seconds to load after selecting the option, which is not good:
The checkout itself is confusing in its layout, and the buttons which take you to the next steps in the process are not made as visible as they could have been.
Gap doesn't provide a progress bar to show the various stages of the checkout and, though it has almost enclosed the process, has still left the links to the four different Gap brands, so customers could easily click away from the payment.
Gap has made some massive improvements compared with its previous offering, though this is not so difficult as the company was making plenty of mistakes before.
The site is still quite image-heavy, but Gap has clearly started to learn from its previous errors, and the site now contains plenty of examples of e-commerce best practice .
A few tweaks here and there would improve things further. But we are still mystified why, with 148 stores and a significant offline presence in this country, Gap chooses not to sell online in the UK.
User Experience Roundtable Briefing - May 2008