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Retail Review – September 2016

As customers and retailers look across all touchpoints rather than siloed channels, so IR retailer reviews look at the entire retailer’s eco-system of website, mobile, the use of digital in store and their overall strategy.


Emma Robertson,

Managing Director, Transform

When you look closely at Superdrug it’s a company of contradictions and surprises. Owned by an international holding company (AS Watson) there has been serious investment in its strategy, technology and logistics, rather than sweating the business as a revenue asset. As part of the AS Watson 360 Global Multichannel Strategy, Superdrug has seen investment in a new web platform supported by a multichannel logistics operation. More crucially, despite digital growth, the company has continued to invest in stores. More than 700 in its estate have been refreshed with new formats launched including the popular Beauty Studio which offers services ranging from Brow Bars to Glitter Lips.

Superdrug can still do a lot more to improve the customer experience within its digital channels, as well as across the full range of channels it wants to operate in. In a retail market where brands are battling to connect with millennials, Superdrug has a head start on its biggest rivals with a platform of products and brand permissions across both beauty and health. However, its digital experience lags behind an accelerating consumer expectation – and it’s now time to catch up.


Amy McInnes, Principal User Experience Consultant, User Vision

The Superdrug website claims that their purpose is “to be the best in everyday accessible beauty and health”. Unfortunately, their web presence doesn’t appear to provide that same aspirational accessibility. From the homepage through to checkout, the multitude of images and links focused on ‘deals’ provides a distracting experience, and while Superdrug communicates value, it is in a manner that risks taking away the appeal of the offers themselves.

Currently the site would benefit from category focused starting points on the homepage to encourage the user deeper into the site, reduced emphasis on conflicting deals and a focus on fixing broken links that are currently affecting the user journey.

MOBILE 14/25

Elle Hankinson, Burn The Sky

Superdrug’s site is fast to load, combining an extensive product range, which is easy to navigate. Tutorials, beauty manuals and ask the experts are easy to find, while the 7 Snapchat hacks shows Superdrug is working hard on being relevant to its teenage audience.

Some areas could be improved though, including the heart icon and welcome icon which both take me to a ‘Sign in into Superdrug page’. Standard drop down hamburger menu and search buttons could be bigger. Also, the quantity in basket could do with a better user interface since opening a keypad menu to change the numbers feels clunky. The payment process and check out are slick and it’s easy to add voucher codes before proceeding to delivery.


Pete Brown, Consultant, Kurt Salmon

Superdrug is among the many discount retailers that have benefited from the recession. It offers a variety of low-cost toiletries that range from basic to premium brands, without much effort to differentiate the shopping experience. The store is completely lacking any input from the digital side and for that reason the customer journey can be quite dry and not unexpectedly, its mobile app is very basic. Most of the shoppers we spoke to said they were in Superdrug because of the loyalty programme and the quality/value of its private label products.

Younger consumers are more expectant of a digital experience, hence Superdrug’s lack of digital investment is an issue in reaching this audience, an important missed opportunity for the retailer when competing in the busy discount toiletries market.

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