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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...

Sainsburys.co.uk

Homepage

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.

Search/navigation

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:

Sainsbury's product filtering options

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.

Product 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:

Checkout process

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:

Sainsbury's registration

Elsewhere, the checkout process has been almost fully enclosed:

Sainsbury's checkout process

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. 

There is a problem here though. If you click on the privacy policy link for instance, you are taken out of the checkout process. Clicking the browser's back button will not take you back to the checkout, so customers are forced to go back to the homepage, find the basket link, and sign in again.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Graham Charlton

Published 27 July, 2009 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 (1)

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d hart-thomas

YOUR TAKINGS MAY HAVE INCREASED WITH THE ADVENT OF THE RECENT EXTENSION TO COMMERCIAL ROAD PORTSMOUTH STORE, BUT THAT WILL NOT CONTINUE ONCE REGULAR CUSTOMERS REALIZE THAT THE COST OF THIS CHANGE IS BEING BORNE BY THE CUSTOMER - IE LESS LOOSE FRUIT&VEG(PENSIONERS DO NOT WANT, NOR CAN AFFORD LARGE PACKETS OF THESE). ENDING CHEAPER LINES, REDUCING PET FOOD/LITTER LINES, DECREASING SIZES OF FROZEN VEG BUT INCREASING PRICE, ETC. I HAVE TRIED IT TWICE SINCE RENOVATIONS, BUT AM NOW TAKING MY CUSTOM ELSEWHERE, AFTER 40 YEARS OF LOYALTY. INCREASE THE AGE/QUALIFICATIONS OF YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAMS - YOU NEED TO THINK LONG TERM.

over 6 years ago

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