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Homeware retailer Lakeland launched its redesigned website recently, and the result is a good looking and usable site. 

I've picked out things that etailers could do better online in the past, but for a change, I've listed ten e-commerce best practices from the new site, as well as a couple of potential improvements... 

Use of product videos 

Videos on product pages work. There are plenty of stats to show this, and merchants have often experienced incremental uplifts in sales of 20% to 40%. 

Lakeland uses videos on many of its product pages, and many are instructional videos, which demonstrate the product in action.

Lakeland product page videos

Instructional videos like these worked well for Simply Group. By using videos to demonstrate its ski products, the retailer experienced a 25% increase in conversion rates, and a significant drop in the number of returns. 

Easy navigation

The site makes good use of mega drop down menus to provide a quick route to any section of the site from the homepage. 

Customer reviews

Lakeland has reviews on most of its product pages, and provides the average review score in product category and search results pages, though it doesn't use review scores as a refine search option. 

The following screenshot provides an interesting example. The first review is full of praise for the product as well as the service received, but the next customer had a problem. 

Lakeland product page reviews

The second review makes the first (and all of the others on the page) more credible, but I also like the fact that Lakeland has replied to the comment, and has hopefully got in touch with the customer to sort the problem out (or tell her she should have seasoned it).

Using reviews for navigation / product ideas

On the homepage, Lakeland uses review scores to show the top five products in different categories, a great way to promote products. 

Reviews are valuable on product pages, but they can also be used effectively elsewhere on the site, to help with product filtering or to give customers ideas for purchases. 

Easy returns

Lakeland has made it easy for customers to return items, which provides reassurance when customers are making a purchase for themselves, or perhaps as a gift. 

The option of returning items to a store can be more convenient for some, but Lakeland takes the sensible approach, and doesn't charge customers for returns. The retailer may take a slight financial hit here, but it's the best long-term tactic for customer retention.  

Relevant product recommendations

The Lakeland site uses a recommendation engine, so customers are seeing relevant related items on product pages. 

For example, the product page for the Tagine contains a heat diffuser, a recipe book, and a starter kit with some spices to use in it. 

These are all good ideas to increase the order value though perhaps Lakeland could do more and link this with the free delivery over £20 offer. Since the Tagine is £18.99, customers need to add another item to qualify. 

Free delivery 

Free delivery is a tactic that frequently works well for retailers, and adding a threshold like the £20 one on this site is great for boosting average order values. 

The offer isn't as clear as it could be on the homepage, but shoppers can't fail to spot it on product pages. However, though Lakeland does mention in the basket that spending x amount more will entitle you to free delivery, it could be made clearer elsewhere on the site. 

Virtual catalogue viewer

Lakeland has a virtual catalogue viewer on the site, which allows customers to view a digital version. It's a good way to appeal to customers who like to browse catalogues, and crucially, customers can click on an item to hop straight to the product page. 

No compulsory registration before checkout

Forcing users to register before they enter the checkout process can be a barrier to purchase so offering the guest checkout with the option registering during the process is the best option. 

Enclosed checkout

Lakeland has enclosed the checkout process, with the only routes out being the continue shopping link, the homepage logo, and the various FAQs at the foot of the page. 

Enclosed checkout

Enclosing the checkout can focus the customer's mind on the purchase by removing unnecessary distractions and therefore reduce abandonment rates. 

And some things Lakeland could do better...

Don't empty shopping baskets...

Lakeland has added a continue shopping link from the checkout, but many people will simply choose the click on the homepage logo to exit the process. 

However, this empties the contents of the shopping basket, so if I have just popped back to add something else to my basket, the result is the annoyance of having to re-select the missing items. 

No delivery and returns info on product pages

The offer of free delivery on orders over £20 is made clear, but if customers need to know how much delivery normally costs, delivery timescales, or returns information, they have to wait until checkout, or navigate to the help section. 

This information should be shown on product pages so that it is easy for customers to find when they are thinking about a purchase.

Lakeland's free delivery offer and easy returns policy could be more of a sales-driver if it was promoted more prominently. 

Don't be too strict on postcode validation

Entering the letter 'o' instead of a zero (and similar variations) is a common input error on online forms. By anticipating such mistakes and returning the intended address result instead of an error message, retailers can avoid any customer frustration (as many may not realise their mistake) and reduce abandonment rates. 

Graham Charlton

Published 7 April, 2011 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 (8)

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Susan Hallam

I think the Search function on the Lakeland site has also been very carefully thought out.

When a visitor searches they are showing their intention to buy, and the layout of the results are clear and enticing.

In particular, the further refinements are appropriate to the audience: related video demonstrations, recipes.

Thanks, Graham, for the great review!

over 5 years ago

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Simon Curd

Hi Graham, excellent article.

On your final point about postcode validation of addresses, this functionality is generally provided by 3rd party Address Verification service providers such as EQAS, Postcode Anywhere, Address Doctor etc.

It's a nice requirement to support zeros and O's interchangeably, but would also need to consider how this may affect international postcodes (where applicable).

Thanks, Simon

over 5 years ago

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Eric McGehearty, CEO at Globe Runner SEO

One trend i am noticing on many eCommerce site are Mega Drop-Downs. Lakeland is no exception these are great for SEO and usability.

over 5 years ago

Daryl Irvine

Daryl Irvine, Digital Creative Director at The Walker Agency

The Times do a great combination of an 'almost' mega drop down and include current content from deeper within the site. Works very well (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/)

I know it's not e commerce but with that silly subscription wall in place it's close enough.

over 5 years ago

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Verity Cork, Senior Web Editor at RNIB

RNIB made Lakeland our 'website of the month' back in December: http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/computersphones/updates/techknowmore/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?id=5

We thought it was well structured, uncluttered and easy to navigate.

over 5 years ago

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Ailsa McKnight, Senior Director at Ladbrokes

This would make good bedtime reading for Robin Phillips at Waitrose.com

over 5 years ago

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Tony Stockil

Thanks Graham for your thoughtful review.

This was a challenging project, but one whose results we are very proud of. We are now eagerly anticipating news of how well the site is trading as this (after all) is what really counts!

over 5 years ago

Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & CEO at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Thanks for the analysis and observations Graham. I was delighted to help Lakeland gain in-valuable customer insights during the redevelopment project through a few rounds of user testing, and as with Tony Stockil we are also very proud of our involvement (although in a very different way) in this large-scale e-commerce project.

You'll be pleased to know that your ten best practices were in the main observed and commented on by the test participants in a positive manner.

From what I understand the site is already trading very well, and there are still some usability improvements that are planned for inclusion going forward that will only enhance the user experience (and conversion rate) further.

over 5 years ago

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