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2006. Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film was released, Steve Irwin died, Italy won the World Cup and “It’s Chico Time” reached number one in the charts: A mixed year. 

But what was happening online, and more specifically, in online retail? In celebration of Econsultancy’s fifth E-commerce Platforms Buyer's Guide, we’ve gone back five years to look at the top UK retail sites as they were then... and how they shape up now. 

The Platforms Guide looks extensively at developments in the marketplace, alongside current growth rates within the UK e-commerce industry. 

Currently, the platforms market is expected to be worth some £690m this year, within a sector valued at more than £60bn. It is a thriving environment, given the scale of online retail and the crucial role technology plays in driving this forward.

Trends that will continue to emerge over the next twelve months include:

  • Digital giants strive to develop e-commerce capabilities.
  • Mobile commerce matures as a bridge to multichannel retail.
  • Commerce continues to get more social.
  • Facebook evolves into its own e-commerce platform.
  • Retailers seek to join up online and offline channels.
  • International e-commerce provides opportunity for growth. 

These are all explored in detail within the report, but it seemed like a great opportunity to also look backwards, as well as forwards. 

The IMRG and Experian Hitwise recently released the Hotshops 100 list for the UK and using the current top 20 e-commerce sites in the UK as a basis, we’ve time-travelled back five years to give a snapshot as to how these online retail giants have developed their properties. 

What’s interesting to see, is that for the most part, changes have been minor. Frameworks are still obvious, as are branding colours and layouts. Although it’s also pleasing to see that all have moved away from left-of-screen display, I think what’s more important is considering what’s happened under the bonnet of these sites.

Increased traffic and more complex sales systems are only a couple of the major factors that e-commerce platforms have had to evolve to deal with in recent years. 

But for now, here's the sites and their retrospective changes: 

Amazon

Then

Now

Argos

Then

Now


Tesco 

Then

Now


Play

Then

Now

Next

Then

Now

M&S 

Then

Now

Apple 

Then

Now


B&Q

Then

Now


John Lewis

Then

Now


EasyJet

Then

Now

Debenhams 

Then

Now


ASOS

Then

Now


New Look

(New Look's website was non-existent in 2006, so we've added an extra in its place). 

Top Shop

Then

Now


Expedia 

Then

Now


Thomson

Then

Now


Ryanair

Then

Now


Homebase

Then

Now


River Island

(Until recently, RI was built in Flash, so finding a cached site from 2006 is proving diffiicult. Instead, we've added an extra player onto this list). 

Sainsbury's

Then

Now


Thomas Cook 

Then

Now


ASDA

Then

Now


Jake Hird

Published 22 June, 2011 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

126 more posts from this author

Comments (13)

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Ricky

It would appear that some of your comparisons, such as play.com and Next are missing the CSS from the 'then' pictures.

Interesting none-the-less. Ryanair's old website was appalling.

over 5 years ago

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Jaap Willem

Great to see the change within the different sectors.
Specially the travel sector (Ryanair and Thomas Cook) haven't changed that much in lay-out blocks while the clothing industry restyled their shops 200%. Is it only me or did Apple's shop look almost the same as now?

over 5 years ago

Ian Tester

Ian Tester, Senior Product Manager at brightsolid online publishing

There's a few here that appear to have been somewhat sitting on their arses for 5 years, no?

over 5 years ago

Mike Essex

Mike Essex, Marketing & Comms Manager at Petrofac

It's interesting seeing how many have gone from wide designs to slim designs (given that moitors have gotten bigger).

Glad to see some brands sticking by their classic designs (e.g. Amazon and Apple).

over 5 years ago

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David Hawkins

Ha, I'm loving Play.com back then.

...Apple, as always, look stylish all the time.

Great article

over 5 years ago

Marty Hayes

Marty Hayes, Digital Director at Venture Stream

I wonder what developments and (r)evoultions the next five years will bring for ecommerce...

over 5 years ago

Jake Hird

Jake Hird, Director of Research and Education at Econsultancy

@Ricky – Yes, this is all that the WayBack Machine would show... but as you say, still interesting to see comparisons.

@Jaap – 2006-2011: a bit of a mix. I guess Apple likes the layout of their site...

@ Ian – I couldn’t possibly make comment...

@Mike – Classics are often the best! Great point about screen size affecting design.

@Marty – My general thoughts are that e-commerce will just become commerce, given the emerging retail channels and consumer touchpoints, alongside the merge of online/offline technologies and retailer properties. This is something discussed in the report!

over 5 years ago

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William King

Such sites certainly have improved their look and design. In formal language it is called On-site SEO. And not only these sites there competitors are also working on such scenario. Amazon definitely have improved its front design and also few other sites like esources and wholesalepages.co.uk have improved their color scheme. Adding few new features in their sites for customers to attract them.

over 5 years ago

Matthew Ogborne

Matthew Ogborne, eBay Expert & Amazon Expert at Last Drop of Ink

Although the newer version does carry the company "green" colour better. Am I the only one that actually preferred John Lewis's previous design?

Matt

over 5 years ago

Gavin Willis

Gavin Willis, Key Client Manager at Propellernet

seriously matt? the 'then' john lewis design is like watching a game of tennis, (and i should know as i'm watching quite a bit of it at the moment!) constantly back and forth across the screen. With so much choice online, sites are against the clock to engage the user, so they are now being designed to allow the searcher to see things quickly and easily whilst getting across their key messages, utilisng more visual concepts.

over 5 years ago

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Matthew Mayes, Creative Director at Redbox Digital

Great idea to show this, very valuable for clients as well. One point I want to make about Apple that the screen grabs do not do justice. You could go back over 12 years ago when their products were not so good as they are today and yet they still photographed them beautifully - compare and contrast that with any other PC consumer electronics brand over that period.

over 5 years ago

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Angelos Taplatzidis

I am dying to see motion sensing eCommerce sites. Imagine the posibilities!!
Angelos Taplatzidis

over 5 years ago

Justin Tyler Broomes

Justin Tyler Broomes, Founder - eCommerce / Digital Project Manager & Consultant at Justin Digital Ltd

This is so interesting to look at, the trend seems to be big clear entry banners with lots of imagery to attract the visitors attention.

I wonder if they've spent alot of time multivariant testing to all come to the same conclusion or if they just followed each others lead?

over 5 years ago

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