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. This issue our reviewers examine New Look .
Emma Robertson, Managing Director, Transform [IRDX VTRA]
RETAIL STRATEGY Score 25/25
Starting in 1969 with a single store in Weymouth, the New Look estate now totals 1,100 stores worldwide, including China where it launched its first stores in 2014. However, the path to success has not been an easy one for New Look, with a history of investments, buy-outs, buy-ins and management changes that have made for a bumpy road.
However, its recent history follows a more stable trajectory, putting the internal structure and external positioning of New Look on a much firmer footing, and in doing so delivering both revenue growth and market share. The digital and multichannel story has been a key driver of the growth and continues to be central to New Look’s on-going strategy.
Digitally, New Look is well covered – with web, mobile and in-store technology supporting both sales and service across international markets. Digital accounts for around 10% of total company sales, and remains in a phase of significant growth.
Figures for FY13/14 reported that New Look’s own website had delivered 42% YOY uplift – a trajectory that many digital retailers will recognise from times past, but mourn the loss of now that their channels and customer behaviours are established. From a strategic perspective, New Look is continuing to back multichannel, and rightly so. Last year it invested in its website and upgraded the mobile experience reporting that 1 in 4 ecommerce customers now use its click and collect service but with only 10% of sales being driven digitally there is still headroom to go after both new customers and increased spend.
New Look has also embraced multichannel in its broadest sense, not just limiting customer reach to New Look operated digital assets. Whereas other retailers use sites such as Amazon or eBay to either trial new ranges or exit clearance stock, New Look has taken a more brand-based approach, embracing the awfully named “co-opetition” (up there with omnichannel for words which should be banned), and is retailing its products through other digital retailers – most notably ASOS [irdx RASO] but also La Mode, Smart Buy [irdx RMSB] and others. This strategy is paying off handsomely. New Look’s own digital estate is growing by 42% YOY but when other sites are factored in the growth increases to almost 64% and the global reach expands from a presence in 24 countries to over 195 through its partnerships.
More critically, the strategy opens up the New Look brand to other customers, helping deliver both short-term sales and the halo effect of building the brand back within the New Look estate. This is demonstrated through the performance of New Look menswear, which represents only 5% of direct sales but accounts for 20% when sold through other retailers. Given that growing market share in menswear is another strategic pillar, the move is astute with digital clearing the path for the brand to grow.
From an innovation point-of-view, New Look is engaged with new technologies and ideas, and launches a fair number of trials and pilot propositions. It was the first UK retailer to launch augmented reality, using Blippar, into stores, and has experimented with a range of in-store technologies from point-of-sale tablets through to body scanning and interactive screens.
Perhaps the most left-field was the Paddiquins, encouraging shoppers to upload pictures of their heads to appear on a tablet on top of a mannequin. However bizarre some of the ideas seem, this is an area that New Look cannot afford to move back from and its approach of innovating and experimenting is admirable in an industry that is often slow to act due to fear of failure. For its target market, New Look is directly addressing the digital-native customer base, whose behaviour is digital by default and expectation of good experiences is high. Staying on the edge of digital communications and engagement is where New Look needs to remain in order to hook them in as their spending power increases.
The simple scoring from Transform is based on whether or not five services are offered by the retailer in the UK with a score of 0 for no and 5 for yes. On this basis, New Look scores 25/25.
Collection in-store: Yes
Mobile app: Yes
Mobile web: Yes
iPad app: Yes
In-store tech: Yes
In-store Digital Review Score 13/25
Louise Garvin Consulting Manager, Javelin Group
New Look has the challenge of serving the always on, digitally enabled customer of today. The store experience more surprisingly doesn’t prominently promote or integrate any of the digital and social initiatives that we might expect to serve this core customer, rather the store experience is focused on the product with the only nod to the digital world via some clear omnichannel messaging.
The omnichannel signage package in store is strong, providing a clear and consistent reminder to go online with “Open 24/7”, “Extended range” messaging prominent, promoting in particular menswear, maternity and petite which generally have a limited in-store presence.
The digital aspects of the store are relatively limited. Digital screens are available for centrally controlled marketing in selected stores. iPads are also available in-store (aside from the fact both iPads in the Marble Arch store weren’t working), in their current form they run the standard version of the website and are fixed to the wall, so not setup in a way to facilitate the conversation between colleagues and customers. A digital area is also available within the Marble Arch store, used to bring the NL Daily content and campaigns to life in-store with rolling video content and emphasis on the extended online range. Conceptually this brings the channels together in a coherent manner… however in practice the wall of screens is located in the corner of the Marble Arch store and feels a little out of place. New Look has recently relaunched the iOS app, which provides full transactional capability and scan & buy functions… again customers are not actively encouraged to download the app in-store or engage with the store or the product using the app.
Social channels lack any visibility in-store, with no encouragement for customers to continue the conversation with the brand in digital channels such as Facebook or Instagram. The content from NL Daily (New Looks non-transactional site that hosts all inspirational and social content) has no real presence in-store.
The click & collect proposition is very strong, well signed in-store and can often be found co-located at the till points or at the changing rooms. Collection points at the changing rooms (e.g. London city store) is an interesting proposition enabling customers to try on “collected” products or perhaps products picked up in-store whilst their C&C order is being located. Aside from the operational impact at peak periods, this seems like a proposition really designed to serve the customer.
Key focus areas for New Look are likely to be around building a more consistent customer experience and tone of voice across all channels. Empowering colleagues with digital, connecting with the vast social customer base (3m Facebook fans) and integrating CRM to serve customers more personably in the future.
New Look Review – MOBILE score 19/25
Rob Thurner, Managing Partner, Burn The Sky
First Impressions (5/5)
I was given a little help writing this site review by my daughter of 13. On the High Street, she’s torn between New Look and Top Shop.
Based on the 15 minutes we spent on New Look’s mobile site, I’m pleased to say this one gets the thumbs up from her, and an unplanned order from me.
It’s a great looking site – in terms of simple layout and beautifully photographed product shots – offering intuitive navigation throughout. The ‘Recently viewed’ box, displayed at the foot of every page makes it easy to drop items into My Bag at any time. Unlike so many ecommerce sites, New Look makes completing the purchase very, very easy.
Search & Navigation (4/5)
New Look’s natural and PPC execution works well … directions to the closest shop, with address, opening times and ratings are clearly displayed, along with click to call, and deep links to product landing pages.
Tap the menu icon top left to pull in a side-loading charcoal vertical nav bar featuring the category headings, ‘store finder’, ‘delivery’ and ‘track my order’. The ‘back to top’ button, missing on many rival sites, makes it quick and easy to move around the site fast.
A navigation bar, displayed beneath the header, helps me know at any time where I am on the site.
Areas to improve
Not much to improve here. I wonder how many young shoppers, like my daughter, don’t know the ‘NEW LOOK’ header acts as a link to the homepage.
Categories and products (4/5)
Once on-site, a vast number of product lines are neatly grouped by category – womens, shoes & accessories, mens, teens, maternity, plus size, new in – accessible from an image rich vertical scrolling menu.
The SORT function uses the iOS scroll feature which pulls up the footer (by price, newest, best seller). The FILTER function opens a full screen window, with clickable links to product shots, complete with size and colour options. A detailed but clearly explained size guide helps overseas visitors compare UK, European and USA shoe sizes and explains how to get the perfect fit. The Add to My Bag icon helps to get to the checkout easily.
This section is very clear, and easy to browse. No doubt New Look’s customer insights team have been working overtime with focus groups to learn what shoppers really want. The UX team has done a great job here.
Areas to improve
Facebook, Twitter and Email icons make it easy to share the images we’re considering or buying with our networks. Adding other shoppers’ ratings and comments against each product would help shoppers decide between competing products.
How about a ‘Suggestions’ or ‘Wishlist’ feature, which we’ve come used to using with Amazon , eBay and ASOS ? If this was executed as well as the rest of the site, New Look would surely be rewarded with increased spend from customers coming to the site looking for ideas, rather than with specific products in mind.
Payment process & Check out (2/5)
Free delivery for orders over £45, meant a purchase for my daughter, and one for me. What an easy way to increase my order value!
Unlike so many site, the claim on the payment page – ‘Online ordering and payment – it’s simple, quick and easy’ – holds true for New Look. I found it easy to get products in My Bag, register as a new user, input my credit card details – using the iOS numeric keypad I use for making calls etc. So far, so good …
Areas to improve
Then I encountered a problem, which wasted about 10 minutes, which was frustrating. Having completed the payment process I didn’t receive an on-screen confirmation that my order had been processed. So I placed the order again, which was pretty painless. No confirmation again. Third time lucky … my confirmation message appeared. Three identical orders placed. On dear.
Post purchase (4/5)
Fortunately my call in to the call centre to cancel two of the deliveries was handled with no fuss. Jake in customer services was friendly and explained he’d put a stop and return instruction to the warehouse for two of the orders, and gave me a ticket reference.
Areas to improve
I’m looking forward to receiving the order. I trust there will be no need to click the ‘track package’ link on the email confirmation. I also signed up for the email newsletter to look at how New Look handles CRM.
Apart from the missing order confirmation, New Look’s site provides an excellent user experience – across the whole shopping journey. The products are well priced and well presented, which will appeal to a broad spectrum of customers. Based on this site I’ll bet New Look’s mobile conversion is way ahead of the competition.
New Look Review – WEB EFFECTIVENESS Score 20/25
Nicola Dunlop, User Experience Analyst, User Vision
The New Look homepage effectively communicates a young, on-trend and affordable brand image. The use of stylised images successfully pushes desirable fashion trends for the autumn/winter 2014 season. The product price is highlighted next to each garment bringing back an element of affordability within these photo-shoots, (Image 1).
When viewed on a 1920 x 1080 desktop, the Homepage images dominate the full screen meaning the additional content is pushed down out of sight, (Image 2) This is not an issue for tablet or smaller 1280 x 1024 screens yet the real-estate of these images could be reduced to display other promotional sections on the homepage. The homepage calls to actions and mega menu offer a broad range of discovery avenues for the user to begin their journey, either through browsing or direct search behaviour.
An effective feature on the homepage is the ‘recently viewed’ items section which is currently hidden at the bottom of the page. This panel facilitates quick sourcing of products for repeat visitors and therefore may be more effective if presented at the top. Another nice feature on the homepage is the ‘scroll up’ tab within the footer, (Image 3). This removes the need for users to manually scroll back through page content facilitating seamless flow of interaction. In terms of accessibility for tabbed viewing the keyboard the site does not provide any visual clues as to where the cursor lies, making the page hard to manage without a mouse. For screen readers some of the headers are not nested correctly and skip to link are missing from the site preventing these users to jump navigation.
The content within the mega menu may at first appear overwhelming; however categories have been grouped into logical sections, making it easier for the user to find what they want quickly (Image 4). On mobile, an accordion format has been used for the menu which successfully deals with limited screen space yet prevents the user from gaining a clear overview of search options.
The category page makes good use of whitespace to display garments. The roll-over interaction is a playful addition, automatically presenting how the item would look when worn (Image 5). A ‘preview option’ is also available for items that are not yet available to buy. This feature is great for product promotion as the user is shown a ‘teaser’ and can chose to be notified by email when the garment is in stock. This feature could be pushed in its function to assess product demand before production.
There is a good choice of product filters ensuring users are returned with accurate results quickly. Users search in a variety of ways and so the site successfully optimises on search behaviour. Filtering is much more limited on mobile as the user is only able to search by style ranges and price brackets. Navigation between product pages is also limited on mobile as the site relies solely on the breadcrumb trail to toggle between pages. This navigation should be supported within the burger menu to meet a range of search expectations.
The range of product images works well allowing users to realistically visualize what they are buying. At this stage within the journey the site includes product recommendation panels such as, ‘you may also like’ and ‘recently viewed items’ which encourages the user to explore other product options. Low stock is also highlighted within the size section, a good persuasion technique in triggering an instant purchase.
In the Bag
When adding items to the shopping bag a drop down panel is triggered within the header area. This top section is already loaded with content making the panel easy to miss. Feedback on this interaction must be clear for the user to trust that the site is successfully responding to their demands, therefore white space may be needed to relax the eye and draw attention to the panel.
The progress bar works well at checkout clearly communicating the user’s stage within the process. Alignment within the ‘my basket’ page could be clearer to aid scanning behaviours and readability.
On a whole New Look is an effective ecommerce site. The site successfully encourages exploring behaviours by adding in tailored suggestions and preview features throughout the buying journey. The homepage communicates a strong brand image yet the screen real-estate on mobile could be used more effectively to promote varying sections on the website. The mobile experience could do with some refinement in terms of general navigation and product filters yet overall works well in the product pages and merchandising. Accessibility is well considered on the site; however some accessibility issues were identified.
Navigation and IA 4
Persuasion and Trust 5
Product Page and Merchandise 5
Total = 20