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GUEST COMMENT Three lessons learned from Mothercare’s closure

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Mothercare: closing down – what can you do to avoid a similar fate?
Mothercare: closing down – what can you do to avoid a similar fate?
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As 2020 gets going, what can retailers learn from the closure of Mothercare?

David Wharram, CEO, Coast Digital
David Wharram, CEO, Coast Digital

It goes without saying that the retail ecosystem has become an intensely competitive space. With the rise of online and omnichannel shopping seemingly dominating the sector, more traditional retailers have suffered the consequences of this increased competition and are closing down their stores. It isn’t just the independent or boutique retailers that are shutting up shop. Some of the biggest and once-beloved brands have disappeared from the High Street. In the past year, PoundWorld, Maplin and Toys “R” Us all closed their doors for good.

 

Just this month, mother and baby brand, Mothercare, announced that it would be closing down all 79 stores in the UK; putting over 2,000 jobs at risk. Just a few weeks later it launched its closing down sale; stating that all stock must go. Whilst it’s unfortunate to see such a prominent UK brand suffer through the new era of retail, it should also act as a wake-up call for retailers who are failing to innovate and keep up with growing customer demands.

 

Following an extensive SEO audit and user experience review of Mothercare’s website, we have identified a number of significant trends and oversights that could have been leading to negative customer shopping experiences. This analysis can be summarised into 3 key takeaways:

 

Product listing and navigation

There’s no doubt that Mothercare has an extensive range of products. From large-ticket items, such as pushchairs to smaller products like baby grows and bibs. Whilst the product range is vast, the navigation can be problematic. The mega menus provide a multitude of options but can be difficult to navigate for a first-timer who has minimal understanding of the subject matter. For example, when looking for a car seat, the drop-down menu gives you multiple options but it doesn’t give much help if you’re unfamiliar with different types of car seats, or without existing knowledge of the brands that make them. Perhaps a ‘shop by price’ or age range would make it more accessible for first-timers.

 

The website also lacks additional context regarding the products listed. The product pages consist mostly of images, seemingly straight from the manufacturers’ catalogue, but fail to add anything new for the user, who may have already visited the brand’s website.

 

Delivery cost and lack of tracking

In today’s retail environment, customers expect multiple delivery options to suit them, and free delivery, in particular, is a big draw for shoppers. However, whilst Mothercare provides free delivery, customers have to make a purchase of over £75 for this service. This most likely has a detrimental impact on online orders; particularly when each product page stated free delivery even on products of a lower value. For customers buying high ticket items, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, for those buying clothing or gifts for a friend, they would most likely go elsewhere, to a retailer that offers free delivery at a lower spend.

 

We also found that when you are placing an order, the site doesn’t give you the expected delivery dates until you reach the payment page, and even then there is only a small notification informing you of the dates. This could easily be missed by a user when pre-occupied entering their delivery details. Arguably you would probably want to see this information much earlier in the journey, like in the basket, way before you reach the checkout.

 

Looking at Mothercare’s Trustpilot reviews, it seems a lot of people have had issues with delivery and not knowing when their items will arrive. This could indicate an issue with email automation, poor signposting, or a lack of expected delivery dates earlier in the customer journey. Either way, not notifying customers when items have been dispatched or are expected to arrive has a significant impact on brand loyalty; meaning customers will likely go elsewhere in the future.

 

Advice content missing out on SEO benefits

Not just a retail outlet, Mothercare’s website is also a fantastic source of knowledge for expecting, new or experienced mothers. The website itself has an expansive bank of content, spanning the whole journey of trying for a baby, through to dealing with a 5-year-old. The content is well-researched and sourced, demonstrating signs of reliable, authoritative content. However, the website doesn’t place much emphasis on just how much content there actually is, as the advice section has been kept to the bottom of the page. While there are links in the mega menu for advice content in each section, these are typically last, not prominent or, on the whole, simply buyers guides.

 

The website should also be utilising its advice content for SEO purposes and directing customers to specific product pages to maximise the effect of its content. However, while the content itself is useful, they don’t feature many, or any links back to product pages. Ultimately Mothercare is being a trusted source of information for mothers, but failing to capitalise on that by pointing them to the correct products.

 

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