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Having launched its online shopping service in 2000, Asda recently overtook Sainsbury's to become the UK's second biggest online grocer.

ASDA homepage

Its online sales have been growing, but it still trails behind Tesco, with around 16.9% of the UK online grocery market compared with 31.3% for its rival, according to figures from July this year.

On most retail sites there are always areas which could be improved, so we've taken a look at the site from a customer experience perspective...

Sort out the shopping basket

If I go to the DVD section and choose a film to add to my basket, my basket will appear with a link to checkout. However, if I choose to return to the homepage, or visit another section of the site, my basket and its content are nowhere to be seen. 

This must drive some customers mad, as it forces them to go through the process all over again. Or, alternatively, they may just leave the site. We wonder what kind of dropout rates Asda is seeing at the end of this journey.

Make the site fit the screen

The Asda website doesn't fit the whole screen, leaving roughly a third of the screen on the right totally blank.

Asda

Not only does this look bad, but it is also a waste of space above the fold. 95% of web users now have screen resolutions of 1024 or wider, so there is little reason not to widen the site. And if it doesn't, then centre-aligning it would look better, in my opinion.

Add an email signup option

Giving people the option of signing up to emails gives you an excellent way to build a relationship with customers, and will ultimately help to increase your sales.

Ideally, a link on the homepage should be provided, which Asda doesn't do. They could also offer the option on the registration page; if customers are entering email details anyway, why not ask them to subscribe? 

Join up the different sections of the site

This is absolute madness: each section of the site is considered separate from the others so, if you begin shopping in the DVD section, add something to your basket, then decide to visit the Flowers section, all of your items will be lost.

Registration

This means that you need to register separately for each section of the site - this means that, if you want to buy a CD, some flowers, hay fever tablets and groceries in the one visit, you are forced to register four times. Absolute lunacy.

Altogether, the site is split into ten different sections, all requiring a unique login to make a purchase.

Word to Asda: sort this out and sales will rise. Care to take a performance-related wager with me?

Don't force shoppers to register before checkout

This isn't the case on all sections of the site, but for most you first need to enter address details, email, as well as telling Asda where you heard about the site.

This is placing unnecessary obstacles in front of prospective customers, who will have to enter their address details for delivery anyway. It makes no sense to do it this way around.

Improve product images

For products like CDs or DVD a basic image is all that's needed, but for more expensive products a range of angles is needed to help customers decide whether or not to buy.

Asda product images

With this sofa, many people would think twice about spending £1,000 when they can't even see how it looks from different angles. A basic picture is all that's offered here, while the zoom tool only enlarges the photo slightly.

Enclose the checkout

This is a common criticism I make of e-commerce sites. The idea behind enclosing the checkout is to focus the customer's mind by removing any distractions when they have reached the checkout.

This means that any links other than those that are essential to complete the purchase, such as returns policies, are removed. This also has the benefit of preventing customers from clicking outside the checkout and losing the information they have added up to that point.

Asda checkout

Some checkouts have a different look and feel to the rest of the site, which can also focus the customer's mind on the purchase, but Asda does none of this with its checkout process.

The main navigation at the top of the screen stays in place, as well as links to customer services, sitemap etc at the bottom. I tried it out, and having entered my address details I could click back to the homepage and lose all the information I had entered.

This can be very frustrating for shoppers, and a few tweaks here could reduce Asda's abandonment rate.

Don't give me navigation links for products that don't exist

In the mobile phone section of the site, Asda has navigation links on the left for various makes of phone. However, click on LG or Motorola and you will not get any products at all: 

Tell me about delivery costs on my shopping basket page

Shopping basket pages should provide a summary of the products a customer has added, the price, delivery details, and so on.

Asda shopping basket

However, Asda's basket page is a bit too basic. The price is displayed, but delivery charges and times are nowhere to be seen, meaning that customers will need to go into the checkout process and enter address details before they can find this out.

As such, Asda may think it has a problem with the design of the checkout, if it has a higher than average abandonment rate, when in fact shoppers might simply be put off by Asda's delivery charges. Place this information on the product page and its checkout abandonment rate will appear to diminish.

Offer reassurances about site security

Some customers may have concerns about the security of their transaction, so signs that your website is trustworthy are essential to remove such doubts from customers' minds.

Unfortunately, with the exception of the grocery section, I found no third party security logos like VeriSign that could provide quick visual reassurance for customers.

There is some information on server security via a link at the bottom of the page, but this link does not stand out enough and could easily be missed.

Related articles:
10 things Currys can do better online
Q&A: Comet’s Content Manager Robbie Tutt

Graham Charlton

Published 16 September, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Tom

Interesting post - it's incredible how poor some of the high street retailers websites are. While you've focused on conversion rate and usability here there's plenty they do wrong from an SEO perspective as well.

Out of interest though, why did you choose Asda? Plenty of the high street retailers make basic errors like this - seems strange to single them out?

over 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Tom,

You're right, there are plenty of well known retailers that make such schoolboy errors with their websites. I didn't look at the SEO angle but I may do in future.

I didn't single out Asda for any particular reason, just noticed their site and the crazy registration situation. I have written similar articles on retailers; Next, M&S, Currys, and others.

Here's the Tesco one: http://www.e-consultancy.com/news-blog/365252/10-things-tesco-can-do-better-online.html

over 7 years ago

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Tino I-COM

Good article! You have raised very good points there that is often times overlooked by ecommerce sites, big or small.

On a side note:
One thing the e-consultancy.com can do better - offer RSS links to subscribe to the blog. :-)

Keep up the good work.

over 7 years ago

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Tom

FYI - I just wrote a post about the seo failings of the uk highstreet retailers and gave a link back to your story.

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-seo-failings-of-major-uk-highstreet-retailers

Thanks

Tom

over 7 years ago

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Glyn Powditch

Great analysis. Its quite amazing what goes on with these large corporate websites.

over 7 years ago

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Al Manchester

The look and feel of Asda's site hasn't really changed in the last year, but some of the funtionality has. It should be noted that the "grocery" (i.e. food!) shopping section is a bit different, but still the search is poor and it doesnt take in to account common misspellings. They're currently running a survey though, which is well worth a blog post in itself because it's pretty awful, but it suggests that they may plan to enhance the website soon. From an SEO point of view they dont have sitelinks when you search for brand terms, like ASDA", which I find a little strange, and the code itself is pretty messy with a lot of inline javascript.

over 6 years ago

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ana

its sort of changed now actually. there website is pretty amazing so get you facts right......:(

over 5 years ago

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ken hill

A really good article and has opened my eyes to the simple mistakes that can be made by massive blue-chips - I will certainly learn from this! Thanks!

about 5 years ago

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