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Merchandising: Navigating commerce

Retailers that help shoppers find the product they’re looking for score well in the Merchandising Dimension.

How easy – and how appealing – it is to navigate commerce websites operated by leading European retailers is the question at the heart of the Merchandising Dimension. In order to answer it, researchers considered the visual appeal of each Top500 website before looking at how their landing pages are organised and how easy they are to navigate and search. They analysed how retailers use promotions and also considered whether search results are accurate.

First impressions

Websites selling jewellery were judged to be the most appealing of the Top500 websites, followed by fashion clothing, footwear and accessories, sports and leisure clothing, footwear, and cosmetics. Sites selling garden equipment were judged least appealing, with those selling automotive goods, groceries, software and music, film and TV above them.

Overall, RetailX research found, most retailers link from their landing pages to categories rather than to products. Some 95% of Top500 retailers allow clicking directly from the landing page to a category. This is especially likely among websites selling stationery, craft, boots and sports and leisure footwear.

63% link directly to products from the landing page, although among those selling appliances (87%), books (86%) and consumer electronics (84%) it’s higher. Just 15% enable shoppers to add products to the basket directly from the landing page, without opening the product page itself.

Online grocer Ocado is among the retailers that enable this feature, along with 35% of those selling prescription and non-prescription health products and vitamins, 30% of those selling music, TV and film goods, and 28% of software retailers.

Researchers looked at which categories of retailer were most likely to offer obvious promotions on their landing pages during the research time period in. They found that those selling children’s toys (91%), stationery and craft (90%) and appliances, homeware and health (89%) were ahead of the Top500 figure of 83%.

How long do shoppers spend on sites?

RetailX research found that shoppers stay on a website longer and open more pages when they are selling fashion items, rather than software. Visitors viewed a median of nine pages on websites selling fashion clothing and footwear, accessories and jewellery.

This suggests that fashion sites are more inspirational and that choosing the right item may take longer in this category. Shoppers looked at a median of eight pages when exploring sites selling sports and leisure clothing, footwear, and outdoor equipment, as well as when looking at sites selling cosmetics, groceries and drinks.

Visitors to software sites looked at five pages – the lowest median number of pages visited. It’s interesting to see that shoppers stayed longest on websites operating in those categories of site judged most appealing in RetailX research, but also visited more pages on sites that were deemed less attractive, but were highly useful, such as groceries.

How do retailers organise navigation?

Analysis ranked retailers for the accuracy of their search results and found the most accurate are on sports and leisure footwear sites, followed by home and industrial appliances, ready-made food, sports and leisure clothing and consumer electronics. At the bottom of the list are those selling automotive goods, followed by those selling – in reverse order – jewellery, garden equipment, drinks, fashion clothing, fashion accessories and footwear.

Most Top500 retailers use filters to help shoppers navigate their website. Some 92% enable searches by product type, with this feature most commonly found among traders selling books (96%), sports and leisure clothing and footwear (95%) and health products. The filter is least often found among retailers selling grocery (81%) and automotive goods (88%).

Some 69% offer searches by brand. This signposting appears to be more important for retailers selling health products (88%), appliances (86%) and children’s toys (82%) but less important for those selling fashion clothing (61%), jewellery (62%) and fashion accessories (64%).

Some 39% of Top500 websites offer searches by price. This is more common among those selling health products (43%), garden equipment (43%), music, film and TV products (43%) and groceries (43%), and less often found among those selling appliances (33%), sports and leisure footwear (34%) and consumer electronics (34%). Filtering by average rating is possible on 23% of sites.

It is most often deployed by retailers selling books (36%), children’s toys (35%) and appliances (34%), and less often found among those selling fashion clothing (19%) and accessories (18%).

How do retailers present products?

Some 58% of Top500 retailers allow customer product ratings, although they are more often present on websites selling books (82%), software (77%), consumer electronics (76%), appliances (75%) and stationery and craft (73%). They are least often present on sites selling fashion clothing (45%), accessories (46%) and footwear (49%).

Written reviews are shared on 55% of Top500 websites – most commonly by those selling consumer electronics (76%), stationery and craft (72%) and appliances (71%). Just 4% enable shoppers to post a product picture.

12% of the Top500 offer videos on product listings. These are most popular among those selling music, film and TV goods (26%), consumer electronics (25%) and software (22%), and least popular among those selling fashion and sports footwear (5%), fashion accessories (5%) and groceries (2%). 73% recommend similar products on their product pages, while 46% recommend products that complement the selected item.

How fast is checkout?

Shoppers on Top500 websites can check out in a median of three checkout pages consistently across industry sectors and EEA countries.

57% of the Top500 enable shoppers to guest check out without registering – that’s up from 56% last year. In 2019, 70% of Austrian retailers offered guest checkout. That’s up from 49% in 2018 – a rise of 21pp. Almost twice as many Romanian retailers offer this option in 2019 as did in 2018, with the proportion doing so rising to 59% from 34% (25pp) since last year.

Case Studies:

Dunelm makes it easy for shoppers to find products

The Dunelm UK homewares website helps shoppers quickly to find the product they are looking for. Visitors can move straight from the home page to the category that’s most relevant to them, or find inspiration in a varied range of product categories featured on the front page.

Popular products are also linked to directly from the home page, which includes a section featuring customers’ own photographs of how they styled the products they bought. This makes Dunelm one of the few retailers to enable shoppers to submit their own images.

Shoppers can search from the product category page through six filters: product type, product collection page, colour, brand, assembly, and customer rating. Product star ratings feature on the product page, while customers can click through them to read reviews.

Allegro enables faster shopping

Visitors to Polish general merchandise retailer Allegro can move directly from the home page to the most relevant category to find the item that they’re looking for. At the same time, some of the most popular products are flagged up as special offers on its home page, giving shoppers a short cut.

They can also narrow down their search through more than ten navigational filters on the category page. These include: price, whether an item is new or not, delivery method, and whether an item qualifies for any ongoing promotions. Product pages feature both star ratings and reviews, as well as flagging up recommendations for other similar products.

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