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Morrisons has finally taken the plunge and unveiled its first ecommerce store.

The grocery retailer said that its failure to launch an ecommerce store was one of the main reasons behind its recent 5.6% slump in sales, which saw its share price fall by 7%.

Ecommerce still only represents about 5% of total grocery sales in the UK, but that's still a £7.5bn market that Morrisons wasn’t able to compete in.

In general I’m not that impressed with the UX offered by Morrisons’ rival stores, as the checkout process is generally overly long and badly designed on grocery sites. 

But has Morrisons managed to buck the trend? Let’s find out...

Registration

When you first arrive at the new Morrisons ecommerce store you are required to enter your postcode in order to find out whether the retailer delivers in your area.

This is common among grocery brands as they are currently unable to reach all UK addresses, however Morrisons also requires your email address up front.

This is because it’s currently only delivering to a small area in the Midlands, so plans to notify other customers as and when the service is available in their region.

If the postcode is accepted you must then create an account or login using your Facebook information. For some reason Morrisons wants to ability to post to my Facebook wall...

As mentioned, Morrisons is playing catch up with its rivals for a share of the ecommerce market, so to make the transition easier for its customers it allows you to import a 'favourites' list from other supermarket websites.

I haven’t tried out this functionality, but it apparently works with Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Ocado.

Navigation

The site navigation is fairly standard, though it helps if you’re familiar with the way Morrisons labels each category.

For example, the categories include ‘Market Street’ and ‘Food Cupboard’, which aren’t particularly clear but it doesn’t take long to work out what items are included within.

The search function is very important for site navigation and Morrisons has created a relatively effective tool for the job.

It is well positioned at the top of the page, uses predictive text and also corrects spelling errors.

Adding item to bag and product pages

The category pages display a good amount of product information, including an image, the price and any applicable special offers.

As with most supermarkets you can add items to your shopping bag directly from the category page or click through to the product page for more information.

Adding an item from the category page is a simple process as you simply enter the number of items you require then click the bright yellow ‘Add’ button. 

One slight UX issue is that once you’ve added an item to your bag there is a ‘minus’ button to remove the products, but no obvious ‘plus’ button. 

The product pages themselves are quite poor. Everything is bunched together so the information is cluttered and difficult to read.

The product description is extremely basic and really Morrisons should put more effort into upselling its products.

Also, though the call-to-action is consistent with the category page it is far too small and doesn’t really stand out due to the prominent social buttons.

The recent tie-in with Ocado appears to have had an influence on the design, as Morrisons’ product page looks like a more cluttered version of Ocado’s product page.

Ocado's product page

Shopping basket and checkout

Morrisons requires customers to spend £40 in order to qualify for home delivery, which seems incredibly steep. 

Also, the only reason I noticed that there is a minimum threshold was because it wouldn’t let me go to the checkout. Morrisons should make this requirement obvious from the start, but instead it expects shoppers to notice a tiny, grey icon in the top right of the screen.

Can you spot the minimum spend information? (Click to enlarge)

Having added enough produce to qualify for delivery I was then required to enter my password again before filling in more personal details. Thankfully the forms are quite short and correct any errors in real-time.

Delivery charges are also quite steep in my opinion, as it’s £3 for weekdays (£1 after 8pm) and £5 from Friday to Sunday. Charging a premium for Fridays is bizarre, as there seems no logical reason why it should cost more than any other weekday.

After choosing the delivery slot you’re directed to a page that simply reiterates the delivery details and displays a prominent ‘Continue shopping’ CTA.

At this stage I just want to go to the checkout, so this page is quite baffling.

If you click ‘Continue shopping’ then it directs you to the shopping basket, which is completely counterintuitive, and then the CTA inexplicably moves all the way to the bottom of the screen.

I genuinely couldn’t work out where the CTA was at first and reloaded the page in the belief that there had been a glitch.

The next page displays one single field that asks you to enter a voucher code and will no doubt just cause shoppers to Google for discount offers. This is followed by the final few screens that require payment details and then confirms your order.

In conclusion...

Morrisons’ first foray into ecommerce is extremely underwhelming. It has had years to plan and design this website so really should have emerged with something that sets high standards for customer experience and usability.

Instead it has gone live with an average ecommerce site that suffers from a number of obvious UX flaws, most notably at the checkout.

It's quite surprising that so little care and attention has gone into the new site, as I was impressed with Morrisons' wine store site that went live last year and the company can also call on the expertise of Kiddicare's ecommerce team. 

Also, the fact that the site isn't mobile optimised is a huge oversight, as that is surely a basic requirement for any new website.

But the plus side, Morrisons does at least now have an ecommerce site that it can gradually improve and upgrade.

David Moth

Published 14 January, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1677 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Matthew Lawson

I understand the disappointment of the launch, but it does show how hard tackling the online market can be.

We should not judge them on the launch, its how they develop from here. There are huge challenges a head and I bet the dev team behind the project were given a fix deadline. They have delivered... phase 1.

If you read this Morrison team, keep going. You should have seen the first website we produced.

I send support from the AO.com eCommerce team.

over 2 years ago

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Nick Halliday

Interesting points raised here. However as a longterm user of Ocado its worth mentioning that they also have a £40 minimum order charge and having not met this limit yesterday when ordering I did not notice them saying why my order would not progress.

Also Ocado use differential pricing now so at 'peak' periods it does cost more.

over 2 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

@Matt, you are, of course, right. It must have been a challenge getting it live, I wouldn't like to imagine the huge (probably conflicting) internal pressures they were under.

However, a high profile site such as this is always going to be up for scrutiny, especially as it has been mentioned on the news so much.

It really seems like they have done no usability testing, which is a real shame. Hopefully they are now given the time to fix the issues.

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Matthew - I take your point. We do want to be constructive, and we certainly don't want to discourage Morrisons' ecommerce team, but we also have to criticise where we feel it's deserved.

over 2 years ago

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Nick

The design looks virtually identical to Ocado.com. Is the platform shared because of the delivery deal they did last year?

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/11/morrisons-ocado-home-delivery-service

over 2 years ago

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Richard Lancaster

"It's quite surprising that so little care and attention has gone into the new site, as I was impressed with Morrisons' wine store site that went live last year and the company can also call on the expertise of Kiddicare's ecommerce team."
Exactly!

over 2 years ago

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Gerard

Not everyone sees e-commerce usability in the same way. I thought the latest Waitrose revamp was appalling and made the site almost unusable but according to a delivery driver who turned up after we persisted and completed an order he has had nothing but compliments about the new look.

over 2 years ago

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Simon

Re the delivery charges, as someone who uses Tesco's home delivery service I think their lowest delivery charge is £3.00 and that's only at the quietest times (eg late on a weekday evening).

£5 or £6 seems standard at busier times such as the weekend and it's understandable that Friday comes into that category.

Like the idea of £1 after 8pm, but they might as well make it free delivery at that price.

over 2 years ago

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Victoria

I think it's a very good tendency that large retailers open their web stores - the only drawback is that they usually lack the functionality and the convenience of the large ecommerce stores, such as Amazon, but hope it is the matter of time and we'll be able to shop online for anything we need and get it delivered quickly

over 2 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

A great article, and some great comments here.

Here are a couple of tiny extra things that occurred to me:

1. One thing that did occur to me: In my opinion Morrison's aren't great in-store either, but lots of people seem to like them.
2. I don't think the delivery cost is all that bad. A grocery purchase is very different from (say) a t-shirt purchase.
3. Checkout processes on this kind of site also usually have a little more leeway than on 'single purchase' sites. If you've taken the trouble to build up a 10-30 item basket, you're both fairly motivated to get through the checkout, and a little more cautious in stepping through it all anyway. (at least the first couple of times)
4.Lots of it is fairly obviously rebadged Ocado stuff (as hinted at). Perhaps that means they launched it fairly quickly, or perhaps it means they had technical limitations. I suspect a lot of the work has gone on 'reworking' rather than 'rethinking' or optimising. Hopefully that is still to come.
4. As Matt Lawson very wisely said - it's what they do from here. Having the site live gives them the opportunity to gather lots of data to optimise it, to iron out the wrinkles, to run a load of simple tests on it, etc. It will be really interesting to see the next iteration(s), or to see whether they progressively improve it over a short period...

Thanks again for the review & the comments - interesting & useful.

dan

over 2 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Thanks for your comments everyone, very useful.

I agree that grocery retailers have more leeway when it comes to checkout UX due to the amount of time spent filling up a shopping basket. I also assume that brand loyalty has a big influence in this industry, as people tend to prefer a particular supermarket chain so will probably use the site regardless of the UX issues.

over 2 years ago

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Jon Swales

It's easy to pick holes in usability, and similar criticism can be leveled at most stores' online offerings.

I don't think it's a terrible effort by any means, but as others have mentioned, it's the same platform as Ocado, and doesn't move anything forward. If the idea was to get something to market as quickly as possible, then Morrisons can count it as a qualified success.

Two major annoyances are:

1. After checking my postcode, I don't get any feedback whether Morrisons deliver to my postcode. I'm just asked to register.

2. You need to register before adding anything to your shopping basket.

over 2 years ago

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