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Having been one of the last big brands to begin selling online in the UK, H&M's e-commerce launch last year was a major disappointment.
Among the problems were a lack of attention to SEO, too much Flash, and generally poor usability.
Yesterday I had an email from H&M telling me that it has launched a new website. In the interests of fairness, I've been seeing what improvements have been made...
While last time, you had to find the link to the online store from the homepage, before being sent to shop.hm.com, now it is all integrated into the main page.
However, when I clicked the link from the email, I still had to select my region first, which is annoying:
As with the old version, there's no site search at all. This is an odd move, since it denies shoppers an alternative navigation option, one which shows purchase intent, while H&M is also missing out on useful data that can be gathered from people's search habits. There are plenty more reasons why retailers should have site search.
If you click on one of the main categories from the homepage (men, woman etc), then the category pages are confusing. Where shoppers would normally expect to see more links to sub-categories, product suggestions etc, they get this:
Clicking on this image brings up a Flash page so, while H&M has thankfully lost the all-Flash version of the site, it can't totally kick its addiction.
There are some useful navigational features that weren't present on the old site though, such as these drop-down menus, which make it easier for customers to jump straight to the product types they want:
Though there are some filtering options, which were completely absent from the previous site, they could be improved. The categories, colour and size filters are fine, but 'concepts' and 'selections' are confusing categories.
In addition, product metadata needs some work, as the results from using these filters weren't always reliable. This is the result of my search for a black shirt:
The product pages are much improved, with a better range of product images and a usable zoom tool. Cross-selling suggestions are sensible, though the pages are lacking detail elsewhere.
There are also some useful product selection tools, such as this dressing room feature, which enables you to put together different outfits from the site:
You have to wait until entering the checkout process before H&M will confirm the total price and delivery costs, which can be annoying for shoppers.
You also have to register before checkout, though at least H&M has lost the cross-selling pop up lightbox which used to appear between basket and checkout.
Registration aside, the checkout is reasonably well laid out and clear to navigate, The concertina style means it's possible to go back and forth and adjust details, though the way it insists on me entering my date of birth is unnecessary.
The checkout isn't enclosed either, with menu options remaining in place, though the payment stage is totally isolated:
As on the previous version of the H&M website, the delivery options are not really up to scratch. Aside from the fact that you have to wait until checkout for the information, the timescales are very poor compared to most online retailers, and this information is only visible is you click to find out more:
When other retailers can offer next day delivery, or at least guarantee delivery within a couple of days, 'You will receive your items around one week after we have received your order, but during busy periods it may take longer' is not really good enough. Would anyone buy an item from the site is the run up to Christmas with this sort of delivery promise? It's unlikely.
While the decision to ditch the old all Flash version is to be welcomed, there are still plenty of Flash elements that simply will not work on mobiles an iPads, such as the men's product category page, and the dressing room feature.
There are a number of issues that could deter shoppers as well; the lack of site search, poor filtering options, registration before checkout, and the vague delivery timescales.
The new H&M website is definitely better than the previous incarnation, but there are still a number of things that could be improved to make the most of the H&M brand online.