Mid-market retailer Next is best known for selling fashion and lifestyle goods via its glossy printed catalogues, which were a hit in the 80s and 90s, but are costly to produce and are out-dated in comparison to the mass reach of today’s mobile commerce.
Next is continuing its bricks and mortar and printed directory business, but concentrating on digital to accelerate its 8% growth in this sector, compared to just 1% in its retail business. No surprise to see Next adapting to consumer spending changes by investing in digital-first methods – notably its mobile website interface and shopping experience, to coax its loyal, largely Baby Boomer consumers, and to entice a new audience into a new age for Next.
Here we explore the mobile site for the NEXT Directory, the retailer’s online and catalogue business. This can also be found as a web app in app stores.
First Impressions: 2/5
Next’s homepage has a clear interface with a compelling editorial style. A horizontal navigation bar shows clearly that the product offering is continued by the user sliding the nav bar to reveal further products. Though there’s an action required early on into the user experience, which would be avoided if they’d used a burger nav, the functionality is still clear and easy.
A ‘free delivery’ message is clearly shown. The sign is not clickable, but automatically applied at checkout. There is quite a lot of text displayed on the homepage, however I imagine that the Next customer demographic are perhaps slightly more hesitant online spenders than others and are keen to know the details of an offer before continuing along the purchase journey.
Much of the homepage is taken up by an editorial-style trend report, which looks like a great piece of branded content, but I can’t click on it to view the trend. This is very disappointing as this type of authoritative content is a great way to encourage further purchases and push certain pieces. However, if I view the Next website m.next.co.uk through my mobile’s Safari tool, I see the same homepage and content offering, but it is clickable – it would be great to have this on the app too.
Search & Navigation: 3/5
The search bar at the bottom of the page is prominent and intelligent search enhances the user experience. I really like the two sticky nav bars on the top & bottom of the screen, which keep the experience succinct.
The Barcode Scanner within the ‘more’ section allows for quick and easy in-store product browsing. I also like the Quickshop option, allowing users to search for a product by entering its item number.
Products & Categories: 2/5
The horizontal nav clearly categorises the top-level product offerings, and on clicking my chosen category ‘women’, I’m taken directly into a dropdown menu offering clothing categories. I suspect that the menu is ordered according to search weight, as items are not shown alphabetically.
I select ‘dresses’ and am taken directly to the product page – two clicks from the homepage, which is great. I can then refine my search, filtering by style, size etc. I can also sort my search and alter my display too. Both functions work well.
When going through the purchase process, I can clearly see the reviews section of the item I’m viewing – a dense pop-up page of reviews and an overview section showing each rating the item’s received. I love that this opportunity to build the Next community makes it so easy for its customers – reputed to be some of the most loyal in the industry – to contribute so readily.
On some of the product pages there are small icons showing the letter P or the letter T. The social media obsessive in me assumes these are opportunities to share my selection on social, but on attempting to click to share I see they’re not hyperlinked. I assume these icons show that the pieces are available in ‘tall’ & ‘petite’ specialist sizes. The lower case T is like Twitter’s logo and is a little confusing! I wonder if anyone one else makes this assumption.
Social sharing options are offered, but are limited to Twitter or Facebook only. I would think that Pinterest would be a great opportunity for Next and am surprised they are not encouraging users to share there. Product share buttons link to Facebook and Twitter, though Next is on more social media channels than that.
The My Account section is clear and offers clear prompts for users to edit their details. Unlike most fashion shopping sites, the first product images shown are shot on location rather than in a studio, which takes away some uniformity, but it is still easy for the user to see what the product is and on clicking to view the product details, users can see product cut-outs. Also shown in the main images are the other pieces that are styled with the look. They are available to purchase beneath the main product details. This adds to the user experience, rather than feeling like an upsell.
One of the pieces I’ve selected to purchase has a notice stating that the item will be delivered within 6 weeks. In today’s retail climate where immediacy is expected, I’m surprised that an item that’s not available for such a long time is even being shown. It’s a bit underwhelming.
Check Out: 4/5
When signing up, Next T&Cs are clearly displayed and the account registration section is easy to use. Delivery options are shown clearly, as is pricing. The check-out process is quick and easy which encourages return users.
Post Purchase: 2/5
Next offers home delivery and pick-up from the CollectPlus parcel service and further breakdowns are clearly displayed. I really like the feature for personalising your delivery slot.
Post purchase, I’ve been surprised by the lack of retargeting – despite having an abandoned cart, I’m not being reminded to go back & complete my purchase.
Total points: 15/25