In which we take a look at the experience of searching for a product, clicking-through to an ecommerce store and purchasing the item, all from a customer’s point of view.

Much like previous investigations on UK retailers John Lewis and Halfords this explores the customer journey in a nutshell, looking at visibility, relevancy, ease-of-use and speed of experience.

Here we'll be taking a look at Boots, and making suggestions on how it can improve the customer experience and perhaps increase conversion.

Search

Let’s try a handful of popular products that searchers may type in Google and possibly find a listing from Boots.

First of all ‘Stella McCartney perfume’.

Although there’s no PPC ad or Google Shopping link, Boots does impressively appear at the top of the organic search listings.

Although for Boots’ own bestselling perfume Cheryl’s Stormflower, it has no first SERP presence whatsoever...

For ‘Rimmel lipstick’ Boots has an impressive dominance in search, with a PPC ad and three out of the top four organic results.

Results are equally good for other top-selling make-up items. Boots has two of the top three organic results for ‘L’Oreal mascara’, only beaten by L’Oreal itself. Three of the top four for ‘Max Factor mascara’ and Boots impressively smashes Revlon for its own Colourstay product.

Like many of its results, Boots uses Google Seller Ratings to differentiate itself from the competition.

For electrical products, such as ‘hair straighteners’ where its not appearing organically in the top handful of results, rather than taking out paid search results, Boot is placing products in the Shopping listings.

For ‘beard trimmers’ the results are even more impressive.

So basically what we’ve learnt from all of this is that Boots has a pretty good grasp of search marketing and has some impressive wins here. 

Let’s see how the landing page from its PPC ad holds up.

Landing page

The landing page is essentially a search results page for Rimmel lipstick, which is effective enough, but there are many improvements that could be made here.

I’m a fan of even-spacing and the use of white space, as it normally makes for an uncluttered and distraction-free experience, but this is going too far. 

It looks as if the spacing may be a result of a responsive design, but the site isn’t moble optimised at all (Boots operates a separate mobile site) and shrinking the window to fix it and the product images still look lost.

This can be fixed by using more interesting, close-up shots of the products, offering alternate views of the lipsticks when the mouse hovers over the image.

Other areas for improvement…

This isn’t ‘narrowing results, these are just links to similar products, which is fine and should definitely be included elsewhere on the page, but it’s misleading here. This is typically where filters for price, availability or style are normally found. Unfortunately there are no such filters available.

The fact that the Rimmel lipstick header image doesn’t fit all the way across the page just looks unprofessional.

This space should really be used for sorting results by price, bestseller or relevance. There’s no sorting options at all on the page, neither is there information on how many results are available or pages to navigate.

There’s no add to basket button direct from the page. Selecting colour just takes you direct to the product page. To speed up the customer experience and encourage conversion, it would be great to have those colour options available right here with the ability to add to basket straight away.

Product page

In contrast with the results page, I quite like the product page itself.

There’s easily accessible delivery information with an impressive array of delivery options, all clearly priced, including click and collect, nominated day and a clarification how much you have to spend to qualify for free shipping.

Also the use of customer reviews and ratings are great for social proof, there’s a handy link for other products featured in the shared special offer and the large imagery here is an improvement on the product listing page especially with the hoverzoom function.

There could be improvements here though. Returns information is missing. The copy in the product description isn’t brilliantly written and is likely copied from Rimmel’s own blurb, which makes it seem more impersonal, also I’m not convinced that ‘add’ CTA is effective enough. The dark blue perhaps looking lost on the page, as it shares the same shade as the Boots logo and product name.

Shopping cart

I’ve already discussed Boots’ cluttered shopping basket in How these five ecommerce stores can improve their checkouts, and some things have improved.

A ‘purchase later’ option has been removed, along with a ‘view favourites’ link, both of which seemed very arbitrary.

However the sheer volume of information, text, options, navigation and input fields all vying for your attention is still really off-putting. 

Checkouts need to be streamlined and made as distraction-free as much as possible to encourage customers to head straight to conversion as quickly and smoothly as possible. It’s good for customer experience and ultimately good for your business.

Boots should ask itself how much of this page is really necessary at this stage of the journey, when a customer is already committed to buy.

Does the customer still need every link to the site across the top navigation? A single ‘continue shopping’ button would do.

The options to enter a loyalty card number or promotional code would also be better saved for the payment page. 

Checkout

Unfortunately there is no guest checkout option, so we’re in for a longer journey than necessary.

Then when you make it to the registration page, prepare to squint or zoom into your screen, as this is a fiddily, poorly accessible web form. 

After this page, things improve with larger text fields, and I like how the options for home or store delivery are presented next.

The address finder does a quick job in filling in my personal details, but I don’t think being forced to give your address a nickname and providing a phone number is necessary.

After this, delivery options are clearly presented and the option to pay with Paypal is present. However it would be good to find out whether goods can be returned in-store for a refund if I choose this option.

In conclusion…

Boots online is a frustrating experience, mainly because there are so many obvious mistakes that could be fixed. Clearly Boots is dominating search and therefore driving a lot of traffic to its ecommerce store, but with so many barriers and distractions in the way, surely this is harming its conversion rate.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 5 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Nor This, this at Or

Nice review

over 2 years ago

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