When it comes to innovation, top brands are differentiating their offers with enhanced services and novel functionality
AS WE SAW last year, virtually all top brands across Europe studied by InternetRetailing’s researchers now provide a localised as well as an English version of their site, with those in multi-lingual nations – Switzerland and Belgium – offering the greatest number of languages. As click and collect is now a standard option for many retailers, InternetRetailing’s researchers this year looked for strategic innovation in enhanced collection attributes, including speed of item availability and additional collection locations. While the UK leads when it comes to offering collection (55% of the UK’s Largest brands tested do so), it lags behind Germany and France in enabling same-day collection services. Same-day collection requires real-time store inventory information, which is still a challenge for many retailers. Largest 250 brands localised to only four EEA countries have this capability. Germany (17% of Largest 250 brands) followed by France (13%), the UK and Spain (both at 11%) are the most likely to offer this service. At the opposite end of the scale, barely a quarter of Swiss or Portuguese-localised Largest brands offer any form of collection service.
Same-day collection requires real-time inventory information, which is still a challenge for many retailers
Same-day collection is clearly a premium service but the median availability of items for collection across Europe takes a rather longer four days. Brands in the Netherlands perform rather better with three days as the median standard timeframe – a fact possibly helped by the country’s more compact geography – while Spain lags behind with a median five-day collection offer by its localised Largest 250. Perhaps surprisingly, while a growing number of retailers use third-party collection lockers – services already very well established in Germany and the Nordics – very few of the Largest 250 have yet started providing store-owned lockers. This would seem to be a potential area for adding brand differentiation in future. Our researchers also measured web performance, following established engineering standards across a range of load and design metrics for both mobile and desktop.
Hungarian Largest 250 brands performed the fastest for desktop browsers. Landing pages localised to Austria, Germany and France led in mobile browser performance, with shoppers using mobile phones in those countries having a significantly better experience with the average Largest 250 brand website than those in other countries.
With mobile already dominating online sales for many retailers, Largest 250 brands have been focusing on strategic developments in this area. Daily deals, bar code scanning, predictive search and store stock checks are among the functions that many with an iOS app are now offering. In this respect, Dutch and Swiss Largest 250 brands are among the most innovative, with 94% and 91% of them respectively opting for iOS and around half of these apps enable barcode scanning, thus providing shoppers with instant product information or an easy means of adding items to shopping lists. Additionally, 42% of the Swiss-localised iOS apps and a third of the Dutch ones allow shoppers to check store stock levels.
Same-day collection is clearly a premium service but the median availability across Europe takes a rather longer four days
In contrast, stock checking capability is least popular in the UK, with barely a quarter of UK brands with local apps offering this functionality. However, they are the only ones providing predictive search and also lead the field when it comes to daily deals – offered by 24% of UK top brands. Although French brands come second on this metric, they lag a long way behind, with just 4% with this facility. Several of last year’s leading brands in this metric retained their position – including Apple , Nike , Adidas and Pull & Bear – but there were many newcomers who scored especially well on strategy and innovation, including Thomas Sabo , Hotel Chocolat , Jack & Jones and Missguided .