Last week New Look announced a 79% increase in online sales in the three months leading up to June.
Ecommerce currently accounts for 10% of New Look's overall revenue, but that figure could well increase if online sales continue to show such strong growth.
The increase in online sales is attributed to a number of factors, including a revamped website, upgrades to its iPhone app and an expanded click-and-collect service.
Such a massive boost in sales is obviously worth investigating, so here's a roundup of some of the factors that New Look gets right on its desktop and mobile platforms. And I've also flagged up a few areas that could potentially be improved on.
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Things New Look gets right...
New Look manages to appear on page one of Google for a number of fashion search terms, including ‘cheap women’s clothes’, ‘women’s shoes’, ‘women’s jeans’ and ‘women’s dress’. It’s also number one for ‘women’s skirts’.
Product pages include stock information
The ‘size’ menu on the products pages includes stock information, so you never suffer the frustration of selecting an item that isn't actually available.
Decent product filter options
New Look allows you to filter its products by price, type, style, size, colour and brand, which means customers can easily find the product they’re looking for.
Click and Collect
New Look has apparently expanded its click and collect service in the past 12 months, which is potentially one of the major reasons behind its increase in online sales.
The service allows shoppers to buy online but pick up the product in-store and has proven to be a huge success for a number of retailers.
As highlighted in our report ‘How The Internet Can Save The High Street’, 80% of UK consumers have reserved a product online for in-store collection, while 20% do this at least once a month.
Argos’ ‘Check and Reserve’ service accounted for 29% of its £819m sales in Q1 2012, while Halfords introduced a ‘Click and Collect’ service three years ago and now 86% of all its online sales are for in-store collection.
Not all traffic to ecommerce sites comes in through the homepage, much will arrive directly at product or category pages.
Therefore navigation needs to be consistent so that shoppers can find their way around the site from wherever they happen to be.
Most ecommerce sites cater for this with a consistent top navigation and search bar, and New Look is no exception.
Free UK returns
Although there are steps that retailers can take to reduce their returns rate, it's inevitable that a proportion of customers will want to send their items back.
New Look offers free returns in-store or by UK Collect+, which is an excellent way of encouraging conversions and boosting retention rates.
However I feel New Look should do a better job of advertising this feature on its site, as at the moment it's not obvious that this service is available.
Free delivery on orders over £45
Expensive or hidden delivery costs are a common cause of basket abandonment, so it’s important for retailers to be upfront with their charges.
New Look details its various costs on every product page and offers free standard delivery if the items are worth more than £45, otherwise it costs £3.95.
By offering a free option for more expensive orders and a free ‘click and collect’ service for orders of more than £19.99, New Look is able to cater for most customers’ needs without charging them for delivery.
Use of live chat
Live chat has become more popular in recent years, with stats showing that 53% of UK online shoppers have used the tool at some point, up from 41% in 2011.
ASOS and Schuh both deploy live chat on their sites, while BSkyB told us in an interview that the service helped to both improved customer service and increased sales.
Therefore it makes sense for New Look to offer live chat at its desktop checkout as it might help to prevent undecided customers from abandoning their purchase.
Upselling at the shopping bag
New Look offers free in-store delivery for orders over £19.99 and free home delivery or order over £45, and it makes shoppers aware of this at the shopping bag.
There are two different messages that tell you exactly how much to spend to qualify for free delivery, which is a good way of encouraging shoppers to add a few extra items to their bag.
As the previous image shows, the CTA at the shopping bag reassures shoppers that the checkout is secure and there are also a number of security logos at the bottom of the page.
This helps to allay the fears of customers who may be concerned about online security and is another method of edging people towards making a purchase.
There are also security messages displayed throughout the checkout process.
Forcing people to register is a major cause of basket abandonment, so offering guest checkout helps to prevent people from dropping out of the payment process.
It’s also a nice touch calling the normal checkout ‘Quick checkout’ rather than asking people to login.
Not all consumers are happy to enter their credit card details online so offering alternative payments methods can be a great way to capture additional sales.
New Look allows shoppers to pay using ten different methods, including all major credit cards, a store card, gift card, or PayPal.
By enclosing its checkout New Look has removed features such as navigation bars and search boxes that may distract the user from making a purchase.
The checkout screen is plain and simple, allowing the shopper to focus on the task in-hand. The use of a progress bar and user shortcuts such as a postcode lookup tool also improve the user experience.
At a time when many retailers still don’t have a mobile site, New Look deserves credit for having both a mobile site and a mobile app – but why no Android app?
Ever-present search bar on mobile
Wherever you are on the mobile site you can access the search bar, which is an excellent feature for mobile shoppers who potentially don’t have the time or patience to navigate through numerous filter options using 3G.
Excellent mobile content
The iPhone app contains a number of different articles detailing trend and fashion advice, complete with numerous images of celebrities.
Each article also contains product suggestions so that users can shop for items to complete each look, which is a terrific sales technique.
New Look’s app includes a barcode scanner that shoppers can use in-store view the item online.
This allows them to access additional product information and also avoid queues by ordering the item online to be delivered at home.
This is all well and good, but there are a number of things that New Look could do to improve its desktop and mobile sites
Areas for improvement...
Gremlins on the mobile site
Though New Look should be applauded for having a mobile site, it suffers from having quite a few bugs which combine to create a rather poor user experience.
For example it’s quite hit and miss whether the dropdown menus on the homepage will actually display any information. Both the ‘Men’s’ and ‘Sale’ categories were completely blank when I clicked on them.
On the mobile site and the iPhone app, the calls-to-action are far too small for the average thumb.
The general rule is to make all CTAs 44x44, but the bigger the better in my opinion. For example, compare New Look’s fiddly buttons to Walmart's giant 'Add to cart' CTA.
Bad ‘Add to bag’ process
On the mobile site, when you click the CTA to add an item to your shopping bag the button briefly alters to say ‘Adding to bag’ but then it reverts to type in the blink of an eye.
It’s quite easy to miss and leaves the user unsure as to whether it’s worked or not.
New Look should really come up with a better way of letting people know that their shopping basket has been updated.
Judging by the reviews in the App Store, New Look’s app suffers from a number of bugs and crashes frequently.
It scores just two stars overall, which is a poor performance for a major high street retailer.
The app is just a shell
If you access the ‘Shop’ tab within the mobile app then it simply fires up the mobile website, meaning that both suffer from the same bugs and design faults.
Hidden delivery costs on mobile
New Look doesn’t reveal its delivery costs until the checkout stage on its mobile site, which is incredibly frustrating for shoppers as it means you don’t know the final cost upfront.
Dodgy mobile checkout
The mobile checkout suffers from the same problems as the rest of the site, as the text field and buttons are far too small.
On the plus side, you can use click-and-collect through the mobile site, but even that is more hassle than it should be. There are two many screens in the payment process, when really it can easily be condensed into a few simple steps.
Dull product pages
New Look’s product pages tick a lot of boxes for best practice, including features such as a variety of images, a zoom tool, delivery and returns information, product recommendations, and a decent CTA.
Also, they’re just a bit uninspiring. There’s nothing unique or attractive about the design, it’s just a plain, rather boring layout.
Econsultancy's JUMP event on October 9 is all about creating seamless multichannel customer experiences. Now, in its fourth year it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza