Quiksilver recently revamped its European websites as part of what it calls “a very aggressive market expansion strategy”.

The sites, which were launched using Demandware, use a range of interactive and visual features that it claims offer an enhanced user experience.

But aside from all the new graphics, is the site actually easy to buy from?

We have previously flagged up ASOS as an example of shopping basket best practice, so using the same criteria I looked at how Quiksilver stacks up…

The criteria

These are the main points that sites need to follow to ensure a great user experience during the checkout process:

  • Clear calls-to-action. The user shouldn’t have to search around for what to do next.
  • Standard delivery costs are made clear. Unclear delivery costs continue to be one of the key reasons why visitors abandon their checkout process.
  • Clear product details. Alongside a thumbnail, customers want to know the size, colour and quantity.
  • Total price is made clear. As well as knowing the delivery cost, customers need to know the total amount they are paying with no hidden costs.
  • Delivery options within the basket. Customers should be allowed to choose the delivery option before the checkout process, thus ensuring they know what they are paying and the delivery period.
  • Secure shopping is made clear. Though e-commerce is no longer a new concept people still need reassurance that the transaction is secure.
  • Clear payment options. Not all visitors have a Visa card – are there options for lesser know cards or PayPal?
  • Don’t force users to register before checkout. This is a great way to cause people to abandon their transaction. ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account.

The shopping cart

The initial product pages are very well laid out, with stock information clearly displayed and product close-ups available just by hovering the mouse of the product image.

When you add an image to the cart a dropdown appears which gives you the option of checking out or viewing your cart. This is useful as it catches your eye so you don’t have to search the page for your next option.

The shopping cart page itself is almost a perfect example of best practice.

Quiksilver flags up the fact that it offers free delivery on all UK orders in two places, but also gives an option for express delivery.

The total price is also displayed prominently, as are the calls-to-action, payment options and the fact that it is a secure checkout.

One minor problem is the product details – for the colour it says ‘SKBL’ and the style is ‘# 3606850503172’.

The checkout

Quiksilver offers guest checkout, which is a very effective way of reducing cart abandonment. However it also gives you the option to create an account should you so desire.

The checkout process itself is quick with just four screens to completion. Calls-to-action are clearly shown in red, and it accepts Mastercard, Visa and PayPal so customers have plenty of options.

One thing it lacks is a postcode lookup tool, but that is a relatively minor problem.

Areas for improvement

Postcode entry

Interestingly, Quiksilver takes a different approach to the problem of postcode entry than most other sites. 

People enter postcodes in different ways, some with a space in the middle, some without. Also, people may enter the letter ‘O” when they need to input a zero. 

Quiksilver wants you to enter the postcode with a space in the middle. If you attempt to enter the code without a space, the text you have entered is deleted.

In this particular instance, the error message does at least explain what is required. However, it may be better to advise this before customers begin to enter their postcode. Also, in the case of the ‘O” / zero issue, or with shifted characters, the text is just deleted without explanation. 

A better approach would be to anticipate common errors like this and accept whatever format customers choose. 

Delivery costs

The site has a clear ‘free shipping’ offer, which doesn’t charge users for delivery in four or five days. However, anything quicker than this costs a whopping £11, and even then only guarantees 48 to 72 hour ‘express’ delivery. (HT: @gregpower)

This compares badly with competitors, and I can’t see too many customers opting for this, especially when sites like Amazon can deliver by 1pm the next day for less. 

Conclusion

Quiksilver’s flashy new site comes with an excellent checkout process that certainly delivers on its promise of achieving ‘enhanced UX.’

From the product pages through to the checkout process everything is very clearly laid out and all the important information, such as pricing and delivery details, is prominently displayed.

Large icons saying ‘Free Delivery’ and ‘Payment Security’ appear at every stage of the transaction to reassure consumers and reduce the likelihood that they will abandon the process.

The fact that it doesn’t require you to create an account and also accepts PayPal are features that many e-commerce sites neglect to offer and sets it out as a great example of how checkouts should be designed.