Savile Row tailor Gieves and Hawkes launched its first transactional website last week, aiming to bring the brand to a wider audience online.

I’ve been taking a look at the new site, which was designed by Pod1, to see how well it works. It looks good at first glance, but is it a case of form over function?

Homepage

The homepage (above) looks good, and is the sort of thing you would expect from a luxury brand. The photography is excellent, and thanks to this, the featured looks on the page come across well.

The page displays just three looks at a time, but you can scroll left and right through eight different versions, using either the next/previous links, which don’t stand out very well, or by using the wheel on your mouse.

This is a good way to showcase products, but the controls could be made clearer, and as someone who likes to use the mouse wheel to scroll up and down webpages, I’m slightly put out by having to use the scroll bar.

Navigation

The site search is basic and works OK in general, but doesn’t handle misspellings well at all, and could do with some filtering and sorting options when searches return a large number of matching products to save making shoppers work too hard:

The navigational links could be made clearer. While the top menu bar just provides links to shop, collections, blog and so on, the links to shirts, neckwear and accessories blend into the background:

Again, as with search results, the filtering options aren’t up to the job. Filters such as colour, size, price range etc would all help to save effort on the part of shoppers, and will help them to make progress towards a purchase.

Product pages

The product pages are pretty sparse, though information on available sizes, delivery charges and returns policies is provided via a link, as well as a contact number for any queries.

The photos are very good, and can be zoomed in on to allow shoppers to get more of an idea of fit and texture, though one way to improve this would be to provide product photos from a range of angles, or even videos.

The homepage, as well as the ‘collections’ option on the site, displays the various looks put together by Gieves and Hawkes, such as this one: 

At this point I am confused by what I can and can’t buy. Next to the words ‘get the look’, which would seem to imply buying the outfit, the checkout button only takes you to an empty basket.

Perhaps you might like to buy the ‘Iconic Chesterfield Jacket’ shown in the picture? If so, I wish you luck with finding the link, or even the price of the jacket.

The only items you can add to your basket and buy from this page are the shirt, shoes, tie and cufflinks, and it seems that all you can buy throughout the shop are shirts and accessories.

However, this is not made clear by the words ‘get the look’ or by any information throughout the site. Indeed, the page introducing visitors to the new site promises that customers can ‘purchase items directly from the Shop section, or browse through our Collections and buy the whole look.’

If some items that are displayed on the site cannot be purchased, or else are coming soon, then this should be made clear to visitors, but at the moment this is very confusing.

Checkout process

The site deals with the issue of registration by giving customers the option to either login to an existing account, registering to create a new one, or checking out as a guest. A solution which covers all the bases.

Elsewhere, while I like the general flow of the process, and the summaries provided on the left of the screen, there are a few things which could make it smoother for users.

A postcode lookup option should be an essential on every e-commerce site, but this Gieves and Hawkes doesn’t provide this. It saves shoppers the effort of entering every part of their address, and also avoids errors in data entry which could result in orders being sent to the wrong address. 

Conclusion

Though the checkout process is a bit grey and dull, the rest of the site, thanks to design and quality of the photography, looks the part and has some good features, like the blog, and homepage display. 

There is room for improvement though, such as making it clearer to potential customers what can and can’t be purchased via the site, and making forms easier to complete.