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Amazon was rated the top online toy retailer in a usability study of 12 toy websites, which found much room for improvement in the sector. 

According to the Brandbank study, toy retailers are not doing enough on product pages, and could be using of product images and videos more effectively. Just four retailers are using product videos, while very few are providing multiple images. 

The overall 'winner' was Amazon, closely followed by Early Learning Centre and Argos, while WHSmith and Toymaster were given the lowest marks. No site scored more than 5.5 out of 10, which suggests plenty of room for improvement. 

Toy websites overall

Product images

Toy retailers' websites are not doing enough to showcase products through imagery according to the report, with very few using multiple product photos with any consistency. 

Toy websites product images

A single product image may be OK for some toys, but for many people need to see the back and front, which bits move, what accessories are included, and so on. Most sites show a photo, but one photo is often not enough. 

For example, this toy kitchen on Hamleys has just one view on the product. There are two photos, but the only difference is the addition of the little girl, though this does at least provide some idea of scale. 

toy images2

The problem is that this photo doesn't tell me a lot about the product, except how it looks from the front. If I'm going to spend £150, I want to know what it looks like from other angles, which parts move, and the accessories that come with it. This isn't even explained in the accompanying product description. 

A better example can be found on the Early Learning Centre website. There are five different product photos, including one which lays out the accessories that are included with the toy. 

toy 6

Product videos

Videos are few and far between on toy retailers' sites, with only four of the featured sites using them to showcase products. 

Toy websites video

Of the sites that featured video, none are using it to any great extent. The video used also tended to be taken from adverts for DVDs or games and consoles, like this example from Play.com:

toys10

Video could be a very valuable tool for toy retailers, as it can enable them to demonstrate toys,  show customers how they work and allow them to see products in motion. 

The kind of instructional videos used by retailers like Simply Piste and Kiddicare would be worth trying. In the case of Simply Group, providing these videos for its ski range increased conversions by 25%

Retailers need to answer customers' questions about the toys on product pages, and while detailed descriptions and product images are useful, videos can answer these questions more effectively. 

Graham Charlton

Published 9 December, 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 (5)

Jake Brumby

Jake Brumby, Managing Director at Mr Monkey Limited

How about our home-grown UK toy shop, The Entertainer?

http://www.thetoyshop.com

Worthy of inclusion. Also has plenty of room for improvement.

Video would seem to be a perfect media for toys - see the toy in action, see children enjoying the toys - got to be a sales booster.

almost 6 years ago

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Genine Keogh, Ecommerce Usability Analyst at Shop Direct Home Shopping Limited

Any ideas how we can get to see a full report on this study? I'd be interested in seeing how these retailers scored on search and navigation areas.

almost 6 years ago

Matt Clark

Matt Clark, Analytics / CRO Consultant at Userflow

You know things are bad when Amazon are winning acclaim for usability.

Having said that the Amazon product page is the probably at the better end of things compared with the dreadful category pages.

Matt

almost 6 years ago

Steven Porthouse

Steven Porthouse, Director at WhatUsersDo

It's not just Toy retailers. This something we hear so often when testing across many sectors -  'more video, more product shots'.

...... hats off to the Simply Group. Increasing conversion by 25% through the use of video is outstanding.

almost 6 years ago

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Pamela

Amazon winning on usability!! my goodness please don't all rush out & copy them. 10 people in one office & 8 won't use them as they don't understand the layouts & find it really hard to find their way around the site.

Makes me wonder the accuracy of the report 

almost 6 years ago

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