Hobbycraft is not a website we’ve covered on the blog before. It’s not the showiest website, it doesn’t feature the most technically dazzling array of tools and features, nor is it currently in the news for any particular reason.

So why cover it now? Because Hobbycraft gets the basics of ecommerce just right.

Out of all the sites I’ve researched so far, this one manages to include almost every ecommerce best practice feature that we’re constantly banging on about on the blog.

This will be a basic overview of the Hobbycraft site, just to point out all the features that make it effective on many customer experience, usability and conversion fronts.

If you’re already an ecommerce expert than this will cover ground you’ll already know, but often it’s still useful to go over the basics from time to time.

Homepage

Hobbycraft ensures visitors are completely aware of all its customer service propositions clearly at the top of the homepage. This helpfully answers many questions that a new visitor may have when they arrive on site.

These messages also remain when exploring search results and on the product pages so its not just visitors to the homepage who see it.

  1. Click and collect: click and collect is an ideal way to tie up your ecommerce business with your offline presence, achieving the holy-grail we like to call ‘multichannel’. For the customer it gives them almost complete control over delivery as they can pick up purchases when and where they choose. Here’s what we learnt about click and collect this Christmas
  2. Free delivery: being clear on your free delivery threshold is a must for all ecommerce stores. You’ll be surprised how many spend more money just to qualify. Stats from a UPS study show that 58% of customers have added extra items to their shopping basket in order to qualify for free delivery.
  3. Free returns: far too many ecommerce stores hide their returns policy behind multiple links, hidden at the bottom of the screen. Here Hobbycraft proudly displays the fact that returns are available online and in-store (another key to multichannel success) and just as importantly, are free.
  4. Basket: having a nice clear basket, kept in the top-right corner is an obvious must-have, as is indicating how many items are currently in the bag. Hobbycraft also keeps the item in your bag after you’ve left the store. Check out how 10 top UK retailers present returns information.

Retargeting

Because I had previously registered an account with Hobbycraft, the retailer has my email address and it’s put it to good use. Upon leaving the store and abandoning my cart, I received the following basket abandonment email about fifteen minutes later…

According to eDigitalResearch and IMRG research 77% of online shoppers abandoned their baskets in 2013 so it’s clearly a huge problem for online retail. Sending email reminders is a good start in combatting cart abandonment, and you’ll be surprised how few retailers do this

Here are some more reasons why you should be sending basket abandonment emails.

Search

It’s imperative that your site has a great search tool, and this definitely means providing automatic suggestions when a visitor begins typing.

As you can see from the above image, Hobbycraft also provides thumbnails to increase a product’s attractiveness and to make certain that this is what a customer is searching for.

It has also served results in two different categories: individual products and categories. All very helpful stuff.

This search tool also forgives spelling mistakes, and will serve results matching the closest approximation of the term.

Click here to find out how John Lewis, M&S and Debenhams handle on-site search.

Search results

  1. Search term is clearly stated.
  2. Sorting tool so you can see results based on bestselling, price, availability etc.
  3. Filters: good varied selection of filters, with transparency on how many results are available in each.
  4. Number of results: clarity on how many results are available over how many pages.
  5. Nice big colourful images: It’s also wise not to show too many on the page as this will diminish the detail of each one.
  6. Clear pricing.
  7. Availability. This is something not often featured on a results page.

There is room for improvement here. I would like to see an ‘add to basket’ option direct from the results page to encourage quicker conversion. 

Perhaps also alternative views of the products could be offered when a use hovers their mouse over each image.

Product page

It’s vital to have a well-laid out product page, without any clutter or distraction, plenty of white space, clear navigation and a focus on the product in question. Hobbycraft does this exceptionally well.

  1. Clear breadcrumb trail so visitors can find their way back along the journey.
  2. Hoverzoom. It may not be clear here, but a good alternative to showing multiple alternative images is to provide a tool that a user can control by hovering the mouse over a specific portion of the product.
  3. Clear pricing, that stands out from the rest of the text.
  4. Social proof can be utilised by using customer ratings and reviews. People love to buy what other people like.
  5. Increase amount: idiot-proof tool for increasing product amount.
  6. Bold call-to-action, designed so it contrasts with everything else on the page and offers no ambiguity on what its function is.
  7. Wishlists are a great way to help customers keep tabs on what they’d like to buy at a later date. It can also be used to personalise the experience for return visitors, as recommendations can be served based on these favourited items.
  8. Returns information is freely available on the page and not hidden down the bottom.
  9. Clear options for delivery.
  10. Copywriting that’s concise, easy to read in a large dark font, and includes bullet-points for the most important information. 

Basket

The key to increasing conversion is to make sure the checkout contains as little distraction as possible, is fluid and most of all quick.

  1. Changing amount: plenty of easy to understand options for changing or removing items.
  2. Delivery options: every delivery option is displayed clearly, with the price and also a message to say how much more the user needs to spend to qualify for free delivery.
  3. CTA: it couldn’t possibly be more obvious.
  4. PayPal: right from the beginning the user can see that faster payment options are available.

Guest checkout

Forcing users to register their details before they checkout is one of the quickest ways to lower your conversion rate. 

Once a customer is ready to buy something from your store, presenting them with page after page of forms in which they need to fill out the most unnecessary of personal details is a sure fire way to send them packing.

That’s why guest checkout is a must-have feature for almost every online retail experience, much like Hobbycraft’s here…

For more information, check out: Be our guest: a guide to ecommerce guest checkout best practice.

We’re a big fan of the single-screen checkout here at Econsultancy and it’s a shame Hobbycraft doesn’t have one, but it does make the process as fast as possible…

  1. Stages: clarity on how many stages there are in the checkout, with as few pages as possible.
  2. Auto-fill has been enabled for added speed.
  3. Postcode: the postcode is still recognised despite the lack of space.
  4. Fast postcode finder tool.
  5. Same as billing address: don’t make your users fill in the same address twice.

Then you’re through to a final screen in which you input your card details or pay with PayPal.

This has been a pleasure to use, it’s quick, intuitive and makes me want to use the site again. The only thing that I can add is that Hobbycraft could easily ask if a customer would like to save their details after the purchase with a simple option to create a password, that way the retailer captures their data and provides convenience for the customer.

Mobile

And of course, last but certainly not least, the site is fully responsive, so mobile and tablet users can take full advantage of the features on offer. 

The mobile site also offers geolocation so a user will automatically be served results dependant on their nearest store, with options for click-to-call and integration with Google Maps for accurate directions. This further makes Hobbycraft an exemplary multichannel retailer.

ROI

Just as a quick amendment to this article (I'm writing this 13 March), Fact-Finder has sent me the following information on Hobbycraft’s success since improving its navigation...

Hobbycraft’s conversion rate from site search has increased 170% (between March 2013 – January 2014). Furthermore, the number of onsite searches on Hobbycraft’s webshop has increased from 300,000 to approximately 750,000 per month during the past year.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 10 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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Comments (12)

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Edward Armitage

Edward Armitage, Ecommerce Director at Waterstones

Thanks for the positive write up, especially as HC are relatively new to multichannel retailing.
Boring as it may sound, constantly optimising the basic user experience is much less risky than trying to innovate, and it's driven exceptional results for us.

over 2 years ago

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David Shaw, UX & Conversion Manager at vouchercloud

This is a great write-up!

Certainly looks like a great example of a best practice eCommerce website.

If I were to offer up one area for a test. I would look at flagging one or two good reviews in the white space in the bottom right of the product pages. We know customer testimonials and reviews are a great way of boosting conversions so showing one or two of these in a prominent position on a product page can only help to increase conversions.

Great work Team Hobbycraft!

over 2 years ago

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Kevin Sparks, Commercial Director at FACT-Finder (UK) Ltd.

I couldn't agree more with this review. Its refreshing to see such fundamental elements to the customers journey done so well.

Simplicity and function avoids confusion and reassures a customer during their decision making process. Keep it simple, make it relevant and you will increase sales and loyalty.

I actual believe this approach has been paramount to Hobbycraft's continual growth and success. We are honoured to be an intrinsic part of that success across online.

over 2 years ago

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Gavin Hudson, Digital Marketing Manager at NCH

Great article, I really enjoy this series. Good on Hobbycraft for doing all the basics so well. The photography is good too, and it helps that they have items that lend themselves so well to interesting photography.

I'd be interested to see some blog articles on more unusual high-value sites with multiple goals, rather than just eCommerce too. Perhaps something with a long lead-time and customer journey that is more likely to have multiple touchpoints before purchase, like a university course, a car, professional services, homebuying etc. Also it would be great to have a tag of some sort so we can see all these kind of case studies/blogs/articles on the Econsultancy site in one place. The UX or eCommerce tags don't quite bring them all up.

Quite surprised that there's no link to the Hobbycraft site, though! Apart from anything else, I think it adds to the experience as us blog readers can then click through and see the details for ourselves. (Yes, I know we can search for it, but still...)

over 2 years ago

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Kate Nicol, Marketing Manager at CXCo Ltd

A really great example of how a well considered approach to the UX can deliver a seamless customer journey. Well done Hobbycraft.

over 2 years ago

Bjarke Rosenbeck

Bjarke Rosenbeck, Marketing manager at relagento.com

Thank you for a great article. I like the practical approach and how simple things often work very well.

One idea would be to run these articles and then write a version two where you get very nitty gritty n all the details with suggestions to improvements?

Just a thought though.

over 2 years ago

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Josh Adams, Head of Marketing at E-Liquid UK Store

This is brilliant - I'm going to go through it again tomorrow with a fine comb and implement everything I haven't already on our site.

Excellent guys!!!

over 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

Thanks all for the excellent comments and helpful insight. Cheers!

over 2 years ago

Thom Feeney

Thom Feeney, Marketing Manager at Noodle Live

Great article, Christopher and a really well thought out ecommerce site. Simple and effective. I'd echo trialling the reviews in the bottom right white space mentioned above but overall the whole site makes me happy. Great work Edward Armitage and team.

over 2 years ago

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee, Web Analytics Manager at Evans Cycles

Great post.

I'm not surprised that Hobbycraft are benefiting from keeping their site simple.

Less is often more!

over 2 years ago

Russell Charman

Russell Charman, e-commerce manager at Vodafone NZ

Great reminder about the foundation elements we tend to overlook when chasing shiny new pieces of innovation. Well done to Edward and the team.

over 2 years ago

Adam Hirst

Adam Hirst, Digital Marketing Manager at The Wool Room

This is a fantastic article.

Hobbycraft seem to do all the basics the way they should be done. It's evident that they've thought about the customer first.

over 2 years ago

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