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Stationery retailer Paperchase relaunched its website this month, and finally added an online store of it own, having sold via Amazon for some time. 

I've been looking at the new site, which uses the Venda platform, from a user experience perspective... 

Paperchase 1

Homepage

The homepage looks good, and I like the notebook/diary theme and use of tabs for the main navigation options. The stripes are on brand and look good on a 17" monitor, but may be a bit too much when viewed on larger screens. 

Paperchase2

The majority of the space on the page is taken up with a display showcasing the latest categories and collections, as well as the new online store, though perhaps it could have been put to better use promoting some products more directly. 

Considering the fact that Paperchase is a multichannel retailer, I also think the retail outlets could be promoted more effectively with a more prominent store finder tool. At the moment, its just below the fold (on my laptop screen anyway), and isn't the clearest link. 

Navigation

The site search could be more precise. For example, a search for 'blue notebook' does bring up one or two blue notebooks, but it also brings up red, green and black ones, as well as luggage and birthday cards. 

At least there are plenty of decent product filtering and sorting options to narrow the search, while the most relevant results seem to be displayed first. 

The product category pages also uses this filtered navigation, and it has been well executed, with a decent range of filters, and the number of matching products in brackets to show customers how much they are narrowing the selection, and to avoid returning no results at all. 

The Paperchase site has a lot of low cost items, and is probably more likely to have customers adding multiple items to their baskets than some other retailers. It would hardly seem worth paying the delivery charge for a packet of envelopes for £2.50, so shoppers are likely to grab a few stationery items on the same shop.

To make this possible for customers, it should be nice and easy to add items to the basket and continue shopping. Since many products don't require too much information, showing a product picture and price as well as an add to basket button on the product category page means users can select items without heading for product page. 

Paperchase5

Product pages

The product pages provide extra photos when necessary, and there is a zoom tool available. Delivery charges couldn't be clearer, while there are links to returns policies and other information at the foot of the page. 

Paperchase7

The returns policy is one area where Paperchase could do better here. It is keen to stress that online purchases cannot be returned to store, and vice versa.

As a multichannel retailer with a network of outlets around the country, Paperchase actually has an advantage here over online only rivals. Customers see only one brand, whichever channel they use, and not allowing multichannel returns can be irritating for customers, as they simply will not understand why this is not possible. 

If rival stationery retailer Ryman, which I reviewed a few months ago, can allow instore returns, then why can't Paperchase? 

The lack of contact details is another minus for Paperchase. While a clear contact number would offer reassurance for customers, as well as a fast route to some assistance with their order, the retailer only offers an email contact form with no timescale for a response: 

Paperchase10

If you are not going to offer a clear contact number for customers, then the email option should be a proper alternative with a promised response time.

This is something that ASOS does well, as it promises a reply within one hour, so customers can ask a question confident that their email will not be sitting in an inbox for days waiting for a response. 

Checkout process / shopping basket

Though the product pages make delivery charges clear, the shopping basket page fails to reiterate this, and show the full cost of the basket. 

As well as the option of login for existing users or creating an account for new customers, Paperchase has an express checkout option for customers who would rather skip registration altogether, a sensible option. 

However, Paperchase has missed a trick by not enclosing the checkout process. There are a number of reasons for doing this; it removes unnecessary distractions from shoppers and focuses their attention on the purchase process. 

With the colourful background, as well as the head and footer navigation options in place, added to very long checkout pages, there are more distractions than there could be within this checkout process. (Having spoken to Venda about this, it seems the navigation within checkout is the client's preference). 

Paperchase11

Conclusion

In general, the new Paperchase website offers a good user experience, and gets most of the basics right. 

However, there are a few areas where it could do more for shoppers, mainly in the area of checkout optimisation. The checkout pages require too much scrolling, and there are plenty of visual distractions for shoppers. I would recommend that Paperchase tries out a more stripped down and enclosed checkout to see what this does for conversion rates. 

Graham Charlton

Published 29 September, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gary

I completely agree with the stripes on a larger screen, i started to feel dizzy after a while!!

I think Venda is a good choice for a platform as well, Having worked with Venda platforms in the past i know the guys there have always been accommodating, even in the sense of accommodation for 3rd party involvement in one of their websites.

I also find that the layout and usability of the Venda platform is safe and solid. A user already knows how to use a Venda platform which.

almost 6 years ago

Clare Blunt

Clare Blunt, Sales and Marketing Executive at Web Marketplace Solutions

I also second the stripe overkill on a larger screen! However, I am pleased that they've gone for something relevant to the brand and different to competitors.

Another glaring opportunity that Paperchase have missed is the ability to cross sell. Given the likelihood of consumers purchasing more than one product while on the site I think the lack of related items on product pages will be a costly oversight.

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Christopher Maltby, Head of Online at TheOfficeSuppliesSupermarket.comSmall Business

I sat though a very good presentation by venda and on the whole thier offerings look great - My concern is whether buying software as a service offers the same felxibility as an in house solution?

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Linda customer

Most unimpressed with lack of contact telephone number.

almost 4 years ago

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