Author: Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke

Paul started PRWD - a specialist Conversion Optimisation agency - over 10 years ago, after spending seven years working in usability and customer experience at the UK's largest home shopping business, Shop Direct Group.

Paul is regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts on conversion optimisation, regularly writing and contributing to a number of digital marketing publications including Econsultancy, as well as keynoting at a range of conferences worldwide.

His passion for delivering significant growth improvements for businesses means he still maintains a hands-on role in delivering client projects with recent clients including Moss Bros, Games Workshop, Lovehoney, Schuh, Harveys, Moneysupermarket & MBS.

Pureplay and high street fashion retailers - who values usability more?

Fashion retailer logosWith the continued growth of online shopping, and with new pureplay retailers entering the market looking for new opportunities, I would expect that the biggest players would be leading the way in terms of customer experience.

With the upcoming Online Fashion 100 event in London that I'll be attending, I have taken a look at some of the biggest players in the fashion industry, both pureplay retailers and high street retailers.

I was particularly interested to look at key areas of their online customer experience to find out:

1) how well some of these brands are are delivering intelligent and meaningful cross-sell and up-sells to drive higher average order values, and...

2) which retailers are potentially losing sales due to a lack of focus on the full customer experience, right through to the end of the checkout process.

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Amazon relying on brand credibility instead of good usability

Amazon and The Book Depository logosIf ever a retailer could get away with having exceptional cross-selling and up-selling functionality, yet provide a new visitor checkout process and web forms that break many usability rules, Amazon is certainly one of them. On the other hand one of Amazon's competitors, The Book Depository, certainly appears to focus more on providing better usability throughout the buying journey, especially for new customers.

Following the recent e-commerce training course I delivered for Econsultancy, the usability benchmarking that is part of the course threw up some really interesting market insights. Although many retailers are featured in the course, providing examples of good and bad e-tail usability and best practice, I purposely refrained from including Amazon.

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Are retailers following best practice to improve conversion rates?

Retailer logos for John Lewis, Play.com, Toyrus and PC WorldNow with our economy firmly in a recession, most retailers no longer have the types of budgets available to replatform. Instead, 2009 will be a year for improving their existing platforms, trying to increase conversion rates, average order values and returning visitor numbers.

So with this primary drive to improve performance, are retailers doing all that they can? Are retailers following best practice to help more visitors complete the buying process, and are retailers removing usability barriers to ensure that in such competitive times visitors aren’t encouraged to find reasons why they shouldn’t complete their purchase?

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Usable internal software systems – just a pipedream?

Usability as a criteria for judging internal software solutions is not only overlooked but often undervalued when compared to one of its big sisters, so called ‘cost reducing features’.

With the penetration of enterprise software throughout businesses all over the world, will we as end users ever experience user friendly internal software, to the levels to which we are accustomed with the latest ‘user centered’ web applications?

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