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Tesco Wines and The Sunday Times Wine Club have come joint top in a study looking at the usability of alcohol websites.
The Qubit benchmark looks at the onsite effectiveness of the UK’s most popular alcohol retailers: The Whisky Shop, The Wine Society, Beermerchants.com, The Drink Shop, Slurp, Tesco Wines and The Sunday Times Wine Club.
Using more than 80 best practice criteria it divides the customer journey into three main stages to identify which delivers the best overall user experience.
As mentioned, Tesco Wines and The Sunday Times Wine Club came top with an overall score of 88%, while The Whisky Shop came in last with 62%.
Here’s a closer look at why Tesco and The Sunday Times topped the poll...
This section evaluates the visual appeal of the websites, the layout, design features and ease of navigation.
The Sunday Times Wine Club came top with 94% closely followed by Tesco Wine with 92%.
The Whisky Shop came bottom of the pile with just 55% due to its messy and poorly designed homepage. Furthermore, though it has a section for deals and offers the report suggests that it is bland and unexciting, so it doesn’t stand out from the rest of the page.
Most of the sites are simple to navigate, however Tesco and The Sunday Times made good use of breadcrumbs to aid the customer in identifying where they are.
Site search is another key element in the ‘Find’ section of the report, with most sites offering a bright, prominent search tool.
However only four of the retailers use predictive search and the impact of the CTA design was quite variable. Tesco Wines failed to impress for this criteria as its search tool merged into the page, making it difficult to spot.
The ‘Choose’ section evaluates the quality of the search results and the product pages.
In order to enhance the user experience, the search function should offer the ability to apply filters, deliver relevant results and present the products in a clear and understandable fashion.
For more information on this topic check out our tips for improving site search.
The Whisky Shop was once again the lowest scoring retailer in this section with just 54%, while Tesco Wine came top with 94%. The Whisky Shop lost points as it failed to provide images on the search results page or a filtering function for search results.
In contrast, The Sunday Times scored highly for providing useful product information as part of its search results.
Looking at the product pages, all retailers offered a full product description and a clear price, however The Whisky Shop failed to provide multiple images or a zoom function.
That said, The Whisky Shop was one of few retailers to create a sense of urgency by using stock availability notifications.
The report also notes that each retailer managed to strike a decent balance between text and images, despite some not offering product reviews.
The Drink Shop clearly understands the importance of offering reviews as it includes press reviews as well as product reviews.
The third and final section analyses the transaction process, focusing on elements such as whether the overall cost is clearly displayed, whether the checkout is quarantined and the use of a ‘help’ tool to answer customer queries.
Even if retailers scored well during the rest of the purchase journey, a poorly designed checkout will cause a certain proportion of customers to abandon their basket.
The Sunday Times came top in this round with 81%, followed by The Wine Society and Tesco who both scored 78%.
Interestingly, The Wine Society doesn’t even let you access the checkout unless you’re a member, which costs £40.
It’s well known that forced registration is a key cause of checkout abandonment, particularly when sites ask for too much personal information.
Few retailers in this benchmark offered a guest option to users, with the exception of Beermerchants.com who provided a very well formatted instance of this.
Similarly, many retailers did not provide user shortcuts such as a ‘Find Address’ function, nor did they check fields for errors in real time.
On the plus side, all retailers in the benchmark quarantined the checkout and used a progress bar to indicate how many stages there were in the process.