The UK's mobile phone retailers seemingly have a lot to learn when it comes to online user experience, with just two scoring 50% or more in a benchmark study.

The study by Syntagm looks at the websites of 12 mobile phone retailers, and having used plenty of mobile phone websites, it comes as no surprise that it found fault with these retailers. 

Overall user experience results: 

Across the 13 metrics, the scores were generally around 50% or over, but the sites studied scored very poorly for persuasion, online support and account management:


By persuasion, the study is referring to features on the websites that are designed to get customers to spend more, such as cross-selling and up-selling, and personalised recommendations. 

For example, given that customers are likely to shop around and research mobile phone and contract purchases on several sites, very few sites remembered their most recently viewed products for return visits, something which would save time for users.

Given that mobile phones are products for which plenty of accessories like cases and chargers are available, these mobile sites are missing a huge opportunity to increase average order values. 

The highest score in this category was just 28% for Expansys, with Carphone Warehouse second on 24%, and even these sites could do better. 

On Carphone Warehouse for instance, the shopping basket page for a Blackberry offers just one cross-selling option, and this is shown below the fold, and below the checkout button where it will be missed by many customers. 

Account management

Unlike most e-commerce sites, many of these retailers didn't offer customers options to manage and check on their orders. Just four of the twelve sites studied offer account management options. 

Online support

All websites were scored very harshly for providing online support, such as reporting damaged or faulty goods, asking questions, or returning goods. Expansys and O2 scored 10% for this metric, Virgin Mobile 5%, and the rest 0. 

Having experienced issues around returns with Orange, and looked at the returns policies of some other mobile phone retailers, these low scores don't surprise me. 

Simply finding returns policies on many of these retailers' websites is a challenge. Try finding the returns policy on the 3 website for instance. 

The returns policy isn't listed at the small print at the foot of the page, as is common on e-commerce sites. Nor is it listed among the many links on the help & support page. Even a search for 'returns' in the 'search mobile help' box doesn't produce any relevant results: 

I did eventually find the returns policy via Google, but the way it has been categorised on the site makes it ridiculously hard to find. It isn't just 3, Phones4U and others have made their returns information harder to find than it needs to be. 

Graham Charlton

Published 8 June, 2010 by Graham Charlton

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

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Comments (3)


Ailsa McKnight, Senior Director at Ladbrokes

I am surprised that O2's site scored as well as it did. I am an O2 customer and I think their site is absolutely diaboliocal. Not as bad as their increasingly patchy service uptime however. A few weeks ago there was an outage covering a very large area (judging by the response I got on Twitter) for 5 hours on a Saturday afternoon and there was no mention of it at all on their website. Disappointing!

about 8 years ago



Do not use Sky Phones to recycle your old mobile phones, i sent mine 2 months ago and still havent recieved payment or my phone back and have emailed 7 times! Not one reply! 

over 7 years ago


John Watson

I want to scream - I would like info on uk smartphones, and which deal is the best - the websites are all ridiculous, they do not compare correctly, and they all seem to have vested interests, leaving out for example t-mobile in their lists. £15 to £25 should get me a "free" sensation or galaxy s2, with 100mins talk, 100-500-free texts, and 500mb upwards of data. Someone must be able to give me a website which is able to do this for me. thanks

almost 7 years ago

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