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Improving The Shopper Experience

Well-planned and innovative services underpin the offers of highly strategic retailers

RETAILERS STAND OUT in the Strategy & Innovation Dimension when they offer customers a convenient, reliable and innovative service, with flexible delivery options, fast-loading websites and mobile apps that improve the customer experience.

The Strategy & Innovation Dimension brings together the IRUK Top500 metrics that InternetRetailing researchers consider the most strategic and innovative, including more than 40 different measures of retailer performance that cover delivery, collection and returns, how easy it is to load and use a website, and mobile app functionality. These metrics have evolved since last year. Where once offering click and collect services was seen as a significant innovation, now researchers measure how quickly shoppers can pick up their online order from the store. For the first time, they assessed whether retailers include augmented reality, live chat or visual search in their mobile apps, as well as such features as predictive search (57% do so) to a ‘hamburger button’ enabling easier navigation (93%) in their mobile websites.


Some 62% of Top500 retailers offer click and collect, up from 57% in 2017, with just over a fifth (22%) offering same-day pick-up and 1.3% offering pick-up from in-store lockers. On average, a click and collect order is ready for collection 3.3 days after the online order was placed. Next-day delivery is also mainstream, offered by 59% of Top500 retailers. Less common are Saturday delivery, offered by 28% of Top500 retailers, nominated day (15% down from 19% in 2017) and nominated time (5%) delivery, Sunday delivery (11%) and same-day delivery (6% from 4% in 2017). Those retailers that enable shoppers to name the time of delivery and to request same-day deliveries are real outliers, while those that offer a broad choice of options really stand out. Almost half (46%) enable shoppers to return an online-ordered item to a store, up from 39% in 2017, while 18% enable returns via home pick-up. Top500 retailers process refunds in a median 10 days. Shoppers can get in touch with Top500 retailers using a median of eight channels, including phone, email and social media.

Researchers considered that the online shopping experience would be boosted by fast web speeds. Top500 desktop sites start to render in a median of 1.9s and are visually complete in 8.2s. Mobile websites start to render in a median 2.0s and are visually complete in 7.2s, with page sizes a median 2.1MB. Researchers drew on data from InternetRetailing Knowledge Partners Hitwise and SimilarWeb to discover visitors spend a median time of was 4m 29s on Top500 retail websites. Almost half (49%) of Top500 retailers offer shoppers a mobile iOS app, according to research conducted in collaboration with Knowledge Partner Poq .

Researchers did further research on every iOS app offered by the Top 500 to find a small number offering highly innovative features. Live chat is available in 6% of Top500 mobile apps, while visual search is offered by 3%. Augmented reality is available in 3% of apps and used to enable shoppers to visualise a potential purchase. More commonly, researchers found that 26% have a barcode scanner, 37% offer daily deals, 48% show a choice of product images – an average of four – on a product display page, 50% enable zooming on images and 27% offer predictive search in their apps. Just over a fifth (23%) have a store stock checker in the app.

Researchers tested the online shopping experience and found that on average, shoppers using Top500 websites can see three to four product images on the average product page and can complete transactions in two to three checkout pages. More than two-thirds (69%) of retailers recommend similar products on the product page, while 66% allow liked items to be saved to a wishlist.


Argos stood out in InternetRetailing research because it offers some of the least common services. It is among the 4% of retailers that offer same-day delivery and among the 22% with same-day collection. Returns can be made via a pick-up from the house, offered by 19% of Top500 retailers, while the retailer also enables shoppers to check stock from the mobile app.

Shoppers buying from Halfords can pick up their online order the same day or arrange a nominated day delivery. They can check store stock on the go and learn more about products in the store using a barcode scanner. Amazon performs strongly on logistics, with same-day delivery and in-store collection via lockers. Its mobile app is highly innovative, with features including live chat and visual search. Morrisons stands out for offering convenient delivery and collection, with in-store collection lockers, nominated time and day delivery as well as same-day collection of online orders. Next competes on logistics, offering options including same-day delivery and returns via pick-up from the house. It makes it easy for customers to find products from the Morrisons app, using predictive search, and to check local availability, using a stock checker.

Among the 3% of retailers using augmented reality in their mobile apps are DFS , which has a room planner app; Wayfair , with a ‘view in room’ product visualiser; Dulux , which enables paint buyers to see how different colours will look in their rooms; and Feelunique , which uses its augmented reality capability to show how make-up might look on the shopper’s face.

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