The latest eDigitalResearch eRetail Benchmark Study reveals that traditional retailers are now consistently outperforming their pure play and catalogue rivals online, using multi channel technology and customer service expertise to their advantage.
The index, now in its 10th year, surveyed 46 of retail's top performing websites, using eDigitalResearch's eMysteryShopper tool to evaluate each site based on the entire customer journey, from first impressions to shopping basket, purchase, delivery and supporting communications.
John Lewis was the top overall performer, followed closely by Marks & Spencer and Next. Strong performers also included New Look, which moved into the top ten sites overall for the first time, thanks to its 'best in class' shopping basket function. Boots made the biggest improvement moving from 32nd place in the previous wave (April 2009) to 10th position in this latest study. Notable performances also came from Debenhams, jumping 20 places from 29th to 9th position overall, and HMV which also made significant progress, moving from 17th to 8th place.
However, when it comes to functionality, most traditional retailers can still learn a thing or two from their pure play counterparts, says eDigitalResearch. Amazon, in particular, was applauded for its 'Google style' predictive text keyword search, quick and easy transaction process and product reviews while Asos' information, images and catwalk videos scored well. Both Amazon and Asos made it into the top ten overall performers.
"Ten years ago the 'pure play' ecommerce operators ruled when it came to selling online," says Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch. "However, slowly but surely, multi channel retailers have chipped away at their advantage,"
"While 'bricks and mortar' retailers have always held the customer service advantage, they are now gaining commercial advantage too, investing in technology and integration across multiple purchasing channels," he added. "If they continue to embrace new media channels while delivering a traditional ethos of exceeding customer expectations then multi channel retailers stand a good chance of running their pure play counterparts out of the market."
Readers can download a presentation containing the full league tables for the study from eDigitalResearch's website.