According to Sir Richard:

The world is moving from people buying things to people wanting experiences. The ones that win are going to be very clear about what they are.

Customer experience is an increasingly important way for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition and improve consumer loyalty.

With this in mind, here are nine other examples of brands providing a poor customer experience online.

Signing up to Sky TV and Virgin Media

Competition for paid TV subscriptions has become increasingly fierce in the UK in the past few years as more and more providers have entered the market place.

Sky TV and Virgin Media are probably the two most dominant players, yet both could do much to improve the customer experience for new customers trying to sign up to their services.

Sky TV’s website is unpleasant to navigate and baffles users with a huge range of options, but offers an excellent experience when signing-up once you’ve finally figured out which package is for you.

In contrast, Virgin Media has a simple website that leads the customer quickly and efficiently through to purchase, and then suddenly ruins the customer experience with poor functionality, cluttered design, multiple pop-ups, and a weird prejudice against Mac users. 

Boots’ online user experience

We looked in depth at Boots’ website recently and found plenty of room for improvement. Given the size of the brand and its resources, the lack of attention to the user experience is surprising. 

Areas for improvement were numerous, and included confusing basket pages, poor out of stock messaging, charging for click and collect and the classic: making customers register before checkout

Boots could do much better than this online.  

Online grocery retailers need to make big improvements

Ecommerce still only accounts for a very small part of UK grocery sales, yet that doesn’t excuse the lousy customer experience offered by the country’s main retailers.

I have previously analysed the checkout UX delivered by Asda, Tesco, Ocado and Sainsbury’s, with the latter offering the worst overall experience.

Sainsbury’s failed to offer basic features such as a progress bar or decent CTAs, and the delivery costs were unclear.

For example, the ‘Checkout’ CTA is a tiny yellow button set against a yellow background.

The other retailers didn’t fair much better and tended to favour tiny fonts and miniature buttons. Furthermore, none of them accept alternative payment methods.

It’s likely that ecommerce will become more important for grocery retailers going forward so these basic issues really need to be addressed.

Style over substance for Gucci

Luxury brands often try to create unique online stores that highlight their premium values at the expense of the customer experience.

Gucci’s mobile site, launched in February this year, is prime example of this trend. From the homepage through to the product pages, the site looks great but is fiddly to navigate.

In general the CTAs have just been transplanted from the desktop site to the mobile version, resulting in a load of tiny text links that are difficult to click. There are also problems with product pages, copywriting and the delivery options.


On the plus side, the checkout process is quick and easy to complete, using several user shortcuts and big CTAs.

You can read more on this topic in our post highlighting 17 examples of high-end retailers offering a poor web experience.

Hamleys’ site fails to live up to wonderful store experience

Hamleys is one of the most famous and prestigious toy shops on the world thanks in no small part to the wonderful in-store experience.

However this relentless focus on the customer experience does not extend to its ecommerce store, which suffers from a series of fairly basic UX flaws.

It has a dated homepage, a lack of filter options, poorly designed product pages, no customer reviews, shoddy on-page SEO and an arduous checkout. And that’s merely a sample of the problems with the customer experience.

At the moment, the site doesn’t do a lot to represent the brand, it fact it may even detract from it.

Banks lose out to pay day lenders for UX

Pay day lenders get a bad rap in the press, and rightly so. However when comparing the customer experience on Wonga’s loan site compared to those from the UK’s major banks it’s not hard to see which is most appealing to consumers.

When Econsultancy’s Ben Davis analysed the online customer experience of Lloyds Bank, TSB and Wonga he found that the latter had a very simple, persuasive design.

In comparison the large banks greeted customers with cluttered homepages, poor copywriting and difficult site navigation.

Obviously banks are offering a different type of service to Wonga, but Lloyds and TSB could still learn some valuable customer experience lessons from their rival at other end of the market. 

From personal experience, I’ve always been surprised by the lousy customer experience offered when applying for credit cards from the main banks.

I’ve applied through Halifax and NatWest in the past and both force you to fill out forms within an annoying pop-up window. It’s quite a lengthy process, so you can imagine my frustration when I spent around half an hour completing the form for NatWest a few days ago only to be then told that the service was ‘currently unavailable’.

As a result, the next time I apply for a credit card online it obviously won’t be with NatWest. 

Elusive travel brands

Perhaps more than any other industry, the travel sector is hugely reliant on the internet as a customer research channel.

A 2011 survey carried out by Econsultancy found that as much as 75% of travel research takes place online and that figure is likely to be the same or higher by now.

Similarly, new data from ResponseTap that highlights a fairly typical purchase journey shows the importance of mobile for travel companies, as customers often browse the mobile web as well as calling travel operators while researching their holiday options.

Yet travel companies seem to be dong their utmost to avoid actually speaking to their customers. I tried to find a contact number for 11 different travel operators using their mobile sites and all of them placed a few obstacles in my path.

Some of these problems were down to clumsy design, for example Stena Line has excellent click-to-call buttons but it’s tricky to find them, while Flybe has a great ‘Contact Us’ icon on its homepage but then uses tiny hyperlinks on its phone numbers rather than buttons or icons.


But some operators, such as easyJet, seem don’t seem to have included a contact number on either their desktop or mobile sites. 

App pop ups

When a business has spent time and effort creating a mobile app it is natural to want to use every available avenue to drive downloads. However, greeting users with a ‘Please download our app’ pop-up is hugely damaging to the customer experience.

In fact Google hates pop-ups so much that in June it announced plans to penalise sites that plague mobile users with interstitials.

Econsultancy’s Chris Lake has previously round up 10 examples of companies that interrupt the mobile experience with awful pop-ups, with The Daily Mail and Telegraph being among the worst offenders.


Ever bigger ad formats

It’s difficult not to feel some sympathy for publishers as they try to balance commercial obligations with the customer experience.

The internet has laid waste to quality journalism and publishers are going to ever greater lengths to try and stay above water. But something has to be done about the awful takeover ads that blight many newspaper and magazine websites.

This example was tweeted by our own Graham Charlton and shows that on this particular occasion the Independent’s giant display ads actually covered up some of the text.

I’ve seen numerous examples of similarly irritating ads in the past, but none that were quite this obstructive.

And for more information on this topic, download our Integrated Customer Experience Report