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RETAIL REVIEW: Our team of reviewers take an in depth look at Boots

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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. Here, InternetRetailing’s regular reviewers examine Boots.


Joe Tarragano, director, Transform

Boots has a number of enviable assets. First, it is a brand imbued with a deep, long-standing sense of trust from its customers. Secondly, its thousands of high-traffic stores with loyal repeat visitors give it a multichannel platform that few can rival. And thirdly its Advantage card enables phenomenal customer insight and personalised engagement. Yet despite all of these positives, Boots has not fully exploited the omnichannel potential of its business.

In its brand, operations, data and estate, Boots has all the characteristics required to become a supremely successful omnichannel retailer with a set of assets and competences that many other retailers would covet. By sharpening its strategic focus and identifying how to combine its role as trusted advisor and knowledge service through WebMD, its strengths in pharmacy and its potential as a powerhouse health and beauty retailer it has the potential to embrace the opportunities afforded by omnichannel retailing. If it can define that strategy and framework so that decisions can be executed coherently and consistently for the customer, it will have an advantage in more ways than one.


Amy McInnes, senior user experience consultant, User Vision

Boots have got the fundamentals of UX design (login top right, provide a prominent search, breadcrumb trail etc). However, they could vastly improve the overall look and feel of the site and catch up with today’s digital landscape. Meeting these standards should be a given: it’s how a company engages with its audience on a more personal level in a modern way that Boots should be focusing on that currently feels lacking. It’s great to see they have finally taken steps to digitising the Advantage Card, but how about also creating an updated look and feel to the primary site?

MOBILE: 12/25

Rob Thurner, managing partner, Burn the Sky

The site is functional and easy to use. With extensive product categories and sub categories, searching and navigating around the site is quick and easy especially if you want to purchase a specific product. However, you can’t help but feel that if they made a few simple alterations to the site it would drastically improve their customer’s mobile experience. It’s all very version 1.0.

Improving image quality would help to make the site much more visually appealing and encourage customers to add items to their basket. By enabling location services Boots could help drive traffic into stores by allowing the on the go mobile customer to find their nearest store.

The main flaw to their mobile site is a lack of back end integration, linking the site to the Advantage card database. Surely many Advantage card customers will abandon their basket on their mobile once they realize they can’t link it to their loyalty account. Doing so would allow Boots to unlock the vast CRM potential to send time and location based offers and promotions to customers whilst browsing the site, based on customers’ purchase history, and anticipated purchase patterns.


Louise Garvin, consulting manager, Javelin Group

Boots has relatively limited digital or cross-channel initiatives across the around 2,500 stores; the 65 flagship stores have some digital engagement elements such as Estée Lauder product recommendation app, but these are primarily concession/brand driven. Extended range of baby equipment available online, but limited visibility of this in store, relying on Parenting Club to communicate this proposition. No digitised booking system to serve the assorted clinic based and optical services; booking remains through a central telephone number.

The recent launch of the new Boots app provides much needed freshness into the long established Advantage Card loyalty programme. Giving customers a product scanner, store locator and digital wallet storing personalised Boots offers has been well received by customers, however the app doesn’t fully digitise the loyalty programme as customers are still required to present the physical Advantage Card at the till. Promotion of the app has been relatively light to date with some visibility in the smaller stores but less promotion evident in the larger stores.

The click and collect proposition should be a real differentiator, particularly in the face of stiff, price lead competition from online pureplays. However, in-store execution of click and collect is relatively poor with limited in-store signposting and unpredictable in-store processes.

A positive start with the new app, but Boots has more to do to further integrate digital into the store experience.


Each of the reviewers has written a longer, more in depth article about their angle for review and how Boots is performing. You can see their longer reviews here:

Amy McInnes of User Vision on web effectiveness

Joe Tarragano of Transform on retail strategy

Louise Garvin of Javelin Group on internet retailing in-store

Rob Thurner of Burn the Sky on mobile

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