Best Practice

Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2004

By Dr Mike Baxter,

This report is part of the Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2006 bundle.

This pioneering study on the user experience of retail sites is invaluable for any company processing sales online. It will demonstrate beyond doubt that improvements to Search, Promotion and Support will lead to increased sales and happier users. The 63-page guide, 'Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks', focuses on 15 of the most popular retail sites in the UK and compares them, side by side, against a variety of metrics. Top online shopping websites featured include Amazon, Argos, Tesco, Figleaves,, Carphone Warehouse, Dialaphone, O2 and dabs. This primary research found that, on average, keyword searches fail to find 57% of products that are actually available on the site via link navigation. So what does this mean for the retailer? It means that sales from keyword searches can be more than doubled, if search functionality is seriously improved. Other areas such as up-selling and the importance of accurate information and visible customer support options are tackled with equal importance. In total, this first ever benchmarking analysis of the online customer journey features 14 separate analyses incorporating 86 website metrics and contains over 50 recommendations. By understanding and acting on this research retailers of all shapes and sizes can expect to generate more sales and improve conversion rates without needing to increase their marketing spend or user base. Key findings: • More than half of all products are not found by keyword searches return even though products can be found by link navigation. By making improvements to internal search, the average retailers should potentially double keyword-driven sales overnight. • Lack of standardisation. Customers can expect a markedly different experience depending on which site they visit, which is very confusing for novice e-shoppers. • The three critical areas of focus in terms of site and revenue optimisation are: Search, Support and Promotion. All retailers can make vast improvements in these areas to help inform users so they feel comfortable about buying products online. • Promotion and persuasion leads to increased spend. Retailers are largely ignoring deep promotions such as bundles, special offers and Amazon-style free shipping. Consumers can be persuaded to buy more products. • Users can be categorised in the following ways: tracker, hunter or explorer. Our research shows that all customer types can be catered for with interactive product guides, advanced filtering options for search results and online customer service tools. • Half of the sites we looked at do not adopt liquid page layouts, meaning web users need to scroll to view content even though there is about 20% extra page width unused. This is essential reading for all online retailers. Non-subscribers can download the sample for a look at the sort of data and comparisons featured within the report.


  • Word SAMPLE: Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2004 (1.88 MB Microsoft Word)
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