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Retail Review Mothercare: Mobile score 14/25 – Elle Hankinson, Burn The Sky


Mothercare is a legacy high-street retailer catering from pregnancy through to products for 8 year old children – everything from clothes to car seats to toys and nursery furniture are offered. It’s a diverse range with a distinctive brand presence.

Mothercare’s business model is adapting with the times by closing smaller and less successful stores and focusing its presence to online as sales there grow and account for nearly a third of its UK total sales.

That said bricks and mortar retail remains an important part of the Mothercare business – the company operates 170 stores in the UK, particularly important for customers ‘showrooming’ However with a core market made up of millennials, it’s clear that digital needs to be a company key focus. I’m reviewing Mothercare’s free app on iPhone 6 here.

First Impressions: 4/5

The overarching impression on opening the app is its ease of use – there are no glitches, which makes it an enjoyable and fast user experience – key for converting browsing into sales.

Browsing the Mothercare mobile site, I am immediately prompted to download the app instead. Standard location and push notification requests show immediately after download and these are used efficiently in the app experience, and a £10 discount code is offered for those who sign up to ‘My Mothercare’. On skipping this step I receive a push notification asking if I’m sure I want to decline this offer – too pushy, in my view.

The app’s opening screen shows a rolling carousel of images of a baby through to two toddlers, clearly demonstrating the breadth of Mothercare’s product offering, which is a clever move for users who are less familiar with the brand. On opening the app a second time I notice the rolling panel image has changed to a static campaign image.

UX is clear, concise and design is accessible – akin to the Mothercare brand identity.

Attention to detail is great – an example of this includes information on the EU online dispute resolution law being shown in the ‘more’ section. As well as being informational, this level of retailer transparency evoke consumer trust and goodwill and increases the likelihood of conversion.

Feedback is easy to submit and I like that Mothercare is readily asking its audience about ways to improve.

Search and Navigation: 3/5

Mothercare offers unique but clear navigation. One of my few disappointments is that although the UX design and user journey is clear, aesthetically I find the 2D boxes and flat blue and grey colour a little out-dated and would welcome something more contemporary to match the brand’s forward-thinking approach.

However, there are some original features, which I think users will enjoy: the Personalise tool allows users to upload their own imagery to create a personalised home screen. I admire this level of personalisation and think it’s particularly appealing to Mothercare’s market of enthusiastic mothers. Mothercare cites personalisation as a key focus in its business strategy and these first steps are a great way towards that goal – personalisation will be key to online consumer journeys and companies that cater to that early on will lead.

A message on the top left of screen is similar to the eBay app. The search tool is clearly displayed. I search ‘tops’ and the first two results are children’s toys, which is disappointing as I was referring to the apparel type, which – fortunately, is shown third. Refine tools are clearly shown to target my admittedly broad search term.

When I search a brand name – Bugaboo, I get extensive and accurate search results.

The Shop landing pages are well categorised, making it easy for me to shop by category and I like the Price Match and Click and Collect banner at the bottom of the screen – these accents incentivise and encourage me as a shopper, they are also clickable leading to full offer T&Cs.

Mothercare is on-trend, offering native content through its app, which is so refreshing to see. Clicking on this option takes me through to several pieces of content – everything from the origin of baby names through to an essentials checklist – this tailored editorial is great, but I think there’s a bit of a miss in that I can’t actually shop from the article. To do this I have to back into the Shop section of the site. I would like this to be more easily shoppable as it’s great inspiring content.

The circular navigation dial is very responsive and varies the user experience in an interesting way, but there’s a real mix of content here – from editorial through to repetition of the personalisation too. Personally I would prefer to have fewer than 10 options and not have repeats of features, but at least this way there’s less chance of users missing features.

Another key trend for the future of retail is joining the physical and digital retail experience, and though barcode scanners are not unusual, the inclusion of this and a second scan feature is a welcome addition and again seeks to help the shopping experience.

Products and Categories: 2/5

Product categories are clearly defined: the app sells a broad cross-section of product, which is clearly categorised.

When searching for toys I’m pleasantly surprised by the efficacy of the refine tools – this is an app that makes spending a pleasure. I like that it saves my recent searches, so that I can easily go back to find an abandoned product search.

Product ratings are clearly displayed – customer reviews and ratings are a great way to include your consumers in the brand experience and enrich the consumer experience too.

I really like that the tabs on the product pages show the item’s individual details, delivery info, sizing specifications and reviews. In its business plans Mothercare cites improved photo and video presentation as a focus for enhancing the online experience and I would welcome video demonstrations of products to encourage the path to purchase.

Further product offers are shown as I click into a product page, however, I can’t click on the offer to buy it immediately, which is disappointing and a missed opportunity for a more expensive sale.

The social sharing options on individual product pages are great, but the omission of sharing to Instagram is a miss for me. Instagram is a leading lifestyle platform and likely to be far more popular amongst Mothercare’s consumers than Google Plus, which is also offered in the social sharing options.

Check Out: 2/5

Registering for a Mothercare account is quick and easy. However, the registration form is slightly longer than the page view, and because the form does not scroll down very obviously it is easy to miss parts, which is annoying when the user thinks they’ve finished but can’t progress with registration. However, this is a minor fault and users can clearly see the parts remaining to be completed with a red X alongside and explanation of what’s needed too.

The Mothercare app is well designed in many ways, but the fact that I can’t register as a new user – and cannot complete my purchase without registering, is a fundamental flaw. I’ve tried on two separate occasions and been frustrated on both attempts. Fortunately, I can purchase as a guest, by selecting my item to purchase first, however registering as a guest user presumably means I will not be added to Mothercare’s database: a valuable arsenal for consumer insights.

I’ve chosen to collect my purchase – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, from my nearest Mothercare store, which is free, compared to the nominal but perhaps off-putting delivery charge on all other items. The app clearly shows me the closet stores to my location and I’ve selected a collection date that suits me. Unfortunately I won’t be able to collect for 3 days until after my purchase and in this age of instant consumer gratification I wonder if this lead time might be off-putting to some, particularly when Amazon and other competitors can guarantee next-day delivery. Mothercare plc’s site tells me that its click-and-collect service is becoming increasingly popular with customers who are looking for convenience and flexibility, however I would still welcome shorter delivery lead times.

Post Purchase: 3/5

Remaining items are held in my basket for a decent length of time and contact post-purchase is standard. I’ve opted for the click and collect service and I can find the store easily via the app, but I would be interested to know if users who opt for delivery can track their order’s delivery status.

Perhaps because I’ve registered as a guest user, I have not received any online retargeting from Mothercare – I hope this is something Mothercare will focus on increasingly as they’re facing stiff competition from mega retailers like Amazon whose retargeting is eerily efficient.

Total score 14/25

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