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Debenhams aims to put customer experience at forefront of its omni-channel plans with UX testing partnership

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As part of the drive to improve customer experience across all its platforms, Debenhams has partnered with UserZoom, a user experience research and testing SaaS platform, to help it create better UX as shoppers become increasingly mobile.

The move comes on the back of Debenhams, a Leading retailer in the IRUK Top500 research, announcing back in April that more than half of its sales now come through mobile. The company reported pre-tax profits of £93.8m, up 5.5% on the same time last year at the department store, which finished the half-year with 253 stores in 27 countries, and sells online in more than 60 countries. The retailer said its strategic priorities of delivering a compelling customer proposition while increasing availability and choice through multichannel were paying off. The move to add UX testing will drive this further during the rest of 2016, says the company.

Debenhams will use UserZoom’s remote testing software to run unmoderated research studies, evaluate how its website is performing and identify areas for improvement. The usability platform enables the company to test continuously from the start of the development cycle, bringing an approach that matches Agile timeframes, and prioritise the most important design changes ahead of new launches or updates.

Ben Mclellan, ‎UX Design Manager at Debenhams, explains: “The benchmark for user experience has been raised so high in recent years – particularly in the retail sector – and it’s essential that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. The only way you can get this right is by testing with real users to find out how customers are using our websites and what improvements can be implemented.

“UserZoom is an incredibly powerful tool, which offers great flexibility to UX professionals and designers. It provides a comprehensive range of all the usability testing methods we wanted to use, including card sorting, intercepts, task-based tests and tree testing. The software will enable us to validate the work we’re doing to ensure a seamless online experience for our customers.”

Debenhams growing UX team will be using the UserZoom platform to carry out a wide range of usability tests on its digital assets, as well as benchmarking performance against that of its competitors.

Remote testing has provided a more cost-effective solution to alternative in-person research methodologies, with significant savings also made in time spent per user tested. While previous in-lab testing had often taken around three months to deliver, Debenhams can now obtain user feedback in a timelier manner.

Arthur Moan, Vice President of Customer Success, EU, at UserZoom adds: “Whereas previously [Debenhams] only ran user tests at the end of the development cycle, now the teams can run as many tests as required throughout the design process. With UserZoom, Debenhams has a faster, more scalable and continuous solution for measuring and improving the user experience.”

Debenhams ultimately aims to make 30% of its sales online, and in the first half of the year it focused on multichanel improvements including later cut-off times for next day and evening delivery, alongside more competitive delivery charges. Its ‘endless aisle’ service was extended to about 150 stores, enabling in-store picking of online orders for home delivery, while an 31% of online orders were collected in store in the first half – rising to 46% over Christmas. More than one in 10 click and collect customers went on to buy in store while they were visiting to collect their order.

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