Close this search box.

IRX 2017 INTERVIEW Stuart McMillan of Schuh on design and usability

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

Ahead of InternetRetailing Expo (2017) and sister event eDelivery Expo we’re running a series of previews and interviews looking ahead to the event. Today we hear from Stuart McMillan, deputy head of ecommerce at Schuh .

InternetRetailing: At IRX 2017 you’re speaking on design & usability as a key to success. What’s one big gain retailers can make by improving usability?

Stuart McMillan, deputy head of ecommerce at Schuh: I guess it’s conversion rate. That is the major thing people would hope to gain, that good design can lead to more money, more conversions on site. There are many other benefits – trust, brand equity – but there’s a lot of conversion rate to be got from good design. It’s about designs that make sense, that are compelling and persuasive for people to use, but most of all that do make sense as an interface into your business. There are many confusing and frustrating user experiences out there and those experiences will be losing people all the time.

IR: What’s one big challenge with getting usability right?

SM: I think one of the biggest challenges is around making sites that function well. Lots of people are thinking about what’s next, what’s cool, but there are lots of retailers thinking about how to build a functional experience that works on many devices and allows consumers to have a very useful and practical shopping experience and making sure the basics are right. I would say it’s not very glamorous but it’s about making sure your experience is effective and functional.

IR: How did you go about doing that at Schuh?

SM: It’s not a solved problem, there’s always new things that come up. A lot of it comes through a lot of hard work – it’s constant attention to detail and some of it isn’t very glamorous. It’s about having a team that knows what good and bad looks like and being able to evaluate a site using a range of tools, finding the detail of things. The unfortunate thing about this is there is no real big bang moment when it comes to making a big bang website, it really is success by a thousand cuts.

IR: How do you see UX evolving as omnichannel progresses?

SM: I think UX needs to interact more with the real world, and take account of real world dimensions, things like time and distance and convenience. A good example for us is our click and collect experience: we designed the interface last year. What we took into account were things like where is the customer, where is the stock, what time of day is it, what time do the shops shut? So for example, if a shop’s within half an hour of closing, how can we maybe show other shops that are open later? When the customer doesn’t have time to get to a shop that is close to shutting, even if it’s the nearest shop, it might be useful to bring in different shops. There are many different dimensions. The convenience of the location needs to be brought into the equation – consumers will be worried about things like transport or parking. Then you start to join up where consumers can start and finish a journey. The same goes for trying to bring some of the detail and the rich human experience and interaction from the store. Let’s not commoditise user experiences and lets make the best human experience as well.

IR: Aside from your own presentation what are you most looking forward to at IRX 2017?

SM: I enjoy meeting up with friends and colleagues, there’s always a really good attendance and it draws a good crowd. It’s a chance to see a wide range of exhibitors in a non-threatening environment.

Stuart McMillan is speaking in the Product and Beyond conference at IRX 2017, which runs from April 5 to 6 at the NEC in Birmingham. His case study presentation, Design and Usability as Key to Success, is at 2pm on April 6. To learn more about IRX 2017, its sister conference eDelivery Expo and to register for free, visit and

Attendees can also get a 25% discount on their train fare to the NEC when they book through the IRX or EDX visitor information website.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on