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Easter is coming and spring is in the air so consumers will be soon be shopping for home improvement and gardening equipment, though some might wait until the temperature gets above zero degrees outside.
There are several major brands vying to take advantage of the seasonal increase in spending, and Qubit has analysed six of them to see which provides the best online user experience.
The new home and gardens benchmark analyses the buying experience provided by Homebase, B&Q, Argos, John Lewis, Ikea and Wilkinson.
Using more than 80 industry best practice criteria, weighted on their importance in this sector, each website is assessed and scored giving a final percentage to identify which brand offers the best online experience.
Wilkinson was the overall winner as it scored highly across all three areas of the benchmark, being the only website to offer a clear contact number at all times.
Ikea was easily the lowest scoring retailer with just 72% against an average score of 82%.
This section addresses the layout and look of the sites, assessing whether they are user-friendly and intuitive.
It includes features such as the login and search functions, the homepages, the navigation, clear call to actions (CTAs) and any visible promotions offered.
The average score was just 73%, so Wilkinson’s winning score of 87% was well ahead of the competition.
The report found that four of the six retailers used special offers and promotions on the homepage to engage with shoppers, but only Wilkinson displayed any clear CTAs.
All bar one of the websites offered a clear login function in the top right of the screen, which is the most effective location for this feature.
The report also found that all websites had a clear and visible shopping basket, but Ikea was the only retailer that didn’t use dropdown menus to aid navigation.
Looking at site search, only three of the brands offered a predictive search feature and B&Q was the only site that used its brand colours to make the search box stand out effectively.
This section focuses on the site search function and the relevance of the results displayed.
All the websites excelled in this section of the framework, with an average of 89%. Wilkinson was beaten in this section by all except Ikea, which had 82% compared to Wilkinson’s 87%.
Not only did every website use images to aid customer choice, but search results could also be filtered by a number of different factors, including price, brand and colour.
Each retailer also displayed results in a simple, uncluttered layout that makes it easy to select the product you’re looking for.
Looking at the product pages, every website had a decent balance between images and text, and all images could be enlarged. Ikea was the only brand that did not display multiple images of its products, but it did offer the most detailed product descriptions.
Basket abandonment is a major problem for online retailers and this section looks at how the retailers guard against this by focusing on the clarity of the price, the ease of registration, the information displayed, and the checkout process itself.
Although Wilkinson scored a respectable 83% in this section it was beaten by both John Lewis and B&Q, who scored 85% each, as well as Argos (87%).
To reduce the chances of basket abandonment sites need to make the checkout process short and simple, with limited form filling.
Most of the websites had an easy to use and well-formatted summary page, however only Ikea and Homebase had a clear total price. Others, such as Wilkinson and John Lewis, instead displayed a subtotal without post and packaging cost.
Retailers should also avoid forcing customers to register an account, but Homebase and Argos failed to offer a guest checkout option.
Similarly, Ikea was the only retailer that didn’t offer a postcode lookup tool, which is a useful shortcut for shoppers.
Finally, all of the websites used a quarantined checkout which is important for reducing clutter and distractions, as well as having a third-party security seal to reassure the user.