The UK’s mobile phone retailers seemingly have a lot to learn when it comes to online user experience, with just two scoring 50% or more in a benchmark study.

The study by Syntagm looks at the websites of 12 mobile phone retailers, and having used plenty of mobile phone websites, it comes as no surprise that it found fault with these retailers. 

Overall user experience results: 

Across the 13 metrics, the scores were generally around 50% or over, but the sites studied scored very poorly for persuasion, online support and account management:


By persuasion, the study is referring to features on the websites that are designed to get customers to spend more, such as cross-selling and up-selling, and personalised recommendations. 

For example, given that customers are likely to shop around and research mobile phone and contract purchases on several sites, very few sites remembered their most recently viewed products for return visits, something which would save time for users.

Given that mobile phones are products for which plenty of accessories like cases and chargers are available, these mobile sites are missing a huge opportunity to increase average order values. 

The highest score in this category was just 28% for Expansys, with Carphone Warehouse second on 24%, and even these sites could do better. 

On Carphone Warehouse for instance, the shopping basket page for a Blackberry offers just one cross-selling option, and this is shown below the fold, and below the checkout button where it will be missed by many customers. 

Account management

Unlike most e-commerce sites, many of these retailers didn’t offer customers options to manage and check on their orders. Just four of the twelve sites studied offer account management options. 

Online support

All websites were scored very harshly for providing online support, such as reporting damaged or faulty goods, asking questions, or returning goods. Expansys and O2 scored 10% for this metric, Virgin Mobile 5%, and the rest 0. 

Having experienced issues around returns with Orange, and looked at the returns policies of some other mobile phone retailers, these low scores don’t surprise me. 

Simply finding returns policies on many of these retailers’ websites is a challenge. Try finding the returns policy on the 3 website for instance. 

The returns policy isn’t listed at the small print at the foot of the page, as is common on e-commerce sites. Nor is it listed among the many links on the help & support page. Even a search for ‘returns’ in the ‘search mobile help’ box doesn’t produce any relevant results: 

I did eventually find the returns policy via Google, but the way it has been categorised on the site makes it ridiculously hard to find. It isn’t just 3, Phones4U and others have made their returns information harder to find than it needs to be.