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Sainsbury's launched its latest online offering over the weekend, adding 4,500 products, including electricals, furniture and toys.
While rival supermarket retailer Tesco has been selling a wide range of products online for three years, Sainsbury's has been slow to get more of its product range online. I've been looking at the new range on the website...
Rather than having a standalone site as Tesco does, the non-food products sit alongside the rest of Sainsbury's online product range, with special offers promoted on the page and accessible via the top navigation menu.
The exception here is the kitchen appliances range, which is operated on behalf of the retailer by DRL Ltd, and opens up a separate site in a new browser window.
The navigational links are all in a small text size, so they don't stand out quite as well as they should, while the drop-down menus for choosing sub-categories can be tricky to use.
Once a product category has been chosen, the navigation options are good, especially the number of filters which enable customers to narrow their product selections:
Site search works well too, allowing customers to restrict product searches to a specific area of the site, and also provides the same filtering and sorting options on results pages.
Most of the key information that potential customers need to make a purchase decision is provided; product descriptions and dimensions, links to buying guides, and clear delivery charges.
For some of the more expensive products, such as the sofa below, the product images are not really good enough. If customers are going to spend £1,000+ on an item which they are unable to view in store, they should be provided with quality photos from a range of angles that give customers the best idea of how the sofa will look in their living rooms.
In the example below, just two images are provided:
Sainsbury's insists that customers register before they checkout and fill in the form shown below, something which could prove a barrier for some customers:
Elsewhere, the checkout process has been almost fully enclosed:
Enclosing the checkout can improve conversions by removing unnecessary distractions from customers when they should be concentrating on filling in address and payment details.
The main navigation has been removed here, and the only links on the page are to go back to basket, or to view privacy policies, accessibility info, T&Cs and the sitemap, though I don't see why the sitemap link is needed at this point.
This information should really be provided in pop-up windows to avoid this problem, or else clear links back to that point in the checkout process should be provided to avoid losing sales due to customer frustration.
The Sainsbury's site has some good features and does most of the basics quite well, though there are a few elements that could be improved upon. such as making navigational and other links clearer, and dealing with the checkout process issues I mentioned.