Boots provides the best multichannel user experience, according to a new report, just a week after announcing a major overhaul in this area.

The retailer introduced a “massive shift” in the way it trains and rewards staff last week, with the focus moving from sales figures to customer care measures.

According to Webcredible’s 2011 Multichannel Retail Report, Boots offered the best overall experience, followed by M&S, Debenhams and Waterstones in joint second place. 

Webcredible evaluated 15 of the UK’s leading retailers against 15 best practice guidelines; six covering the functionality, effective browsing and appropriate checkout and delivery procedures of a website.

Four related to the mobile experience, while the remaining five assessed the multichannel experience. Each was given a score out of 75, and then an overall percentage score. 

In terms of online usability, site functionality has been taken more seriously by retailers, according to Webcredible. Most websites scored well for effective browsing, providing a clear checkout process and being upfront about delivery costs.

This demonstrates that retailers recognise the need to browse, choose and pay for products quickly and easily, particularly with the onset of new features such as product comparison pages, user reviews and ratings, or buying guides.

However, companies are failing to realise the importance of other well-established guidelines that make it easier for users to manage search results appropriately. Poor implementation of search filters is common for many retailers, so there is still room for improvement.

For mobile commerce sites, features such as a store locator were considered important and extra points were awarded to sites or apps that use GPS and interactive maps to direct customers.

Here, Apple proved to be successful, offering customers the opportunity to make reservations for one-on-one appointments. Debenhams’ personalised app and barcode scanner also scored extra points for its ability to provide customers with new ways to find and buy products.

However, six of the 15 companies studied had neither an app or mobile site indicating a need for improvement.

This supports the findings of the second annual Multichannel Customer Experience Report, published by Econsultancy in association with Foviance. It was discovered that 40% of organisations cite ‘complexity’ as the greatest barrier to improving multichannel customer experience, overtaking ‘organisational structure’ since 2010.

Only 26% of 650 companies and agencies said they had a well-developed strategy in place for improving customer experience, while a commitment to customer experience from the top of the organisation is regarded as a key requirement by just under half of companies (46%), higher than for all other organisational attributes.