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UK’s biggest retailers still battling with the basics of m and e-commerce, costing billions each year

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92% of the UK’s top 50 retailers have websites built for mobile, but are missing out on £2bn in online revenue each year due to slow load times on web and mobile and not having guest checkouts.

According to a new report on ecommerce performance by online retailing specialist Summit, Argos and Sainsbury’s topped the table of the UK’s 50 biggest retailers, with John Lewis , Screwfix and Tesco following closely behind.

The bottom position is jointly held by Dorothy Perkins , Superdrug , Topshop , and Evans with a score of 56%. Topshop scored only 13% for online customer service, as a result of slow response times and limited contact options for customers.

Setting out to highlight where and how retailers need to improve online to remain competitive, the Scorecard report ranks the UK’s top 50 retailers on their ecommerce offering. Retailers were assessed and scored on some 170 elements across four main ecommerce pillars: logistics and customer service, ecommerce technology, online marketing and digital trading. Scores were then averaged out across all areas, giving each retailer an overall score.

On average, page load speed across the top 50 retailers was seven seconds. This is double the recommended minimum, with every extra second in site load time costing retailers 7% in converted sales, meaning that UK retailers are missing out on £1bn in revenue per year as a result. Morrisons’ website, for example, runs at 10.1 seconds, 4 times slower than the industry standard.

The report also found that 38% of the top 50 retailers do not have a guest checkout option, costing the group £1bn per year as over a quarter of shoppers abandon their baskets without this option.

However, despite the inadequacies, when looking at the retailers’ ecommerce technology and mobile friendliness, Scorecard highlighted that virtually all – 92% – of the top 50 retailers have websites built for mobile. This is a hugely positive step forward as retail becomes increasingly driven by the customer’s desire to shop on the go, with mobile accounting for over half of UK ecommerce sales.

Scorecard’s analysis finds that logistics and service will be the next battleground for online retail. Despite 87% of the assessed retailers offering click and collect, the vast majority fail to offer customers flexible options for delivery. Only 23 retailers offer nominated day delivery and only 12 offer day and time delivery slots, highlighting that inconvenient fulfilment is still the sticking point for real shopping ease. Harrods performed particularly poorly, scoring just 30 per cent for its delivery offering.

Hedley Aylott, CEO and co-founder of Summit explains: “The Summit Scorecard provides us with an understanding of what the top 50 UK retailers are really like to shop with online. While retailers have made huge strides, with most now getting mobile right, many are still struggling to offer delivery options that meet shoppers’ needs. While this will not be an easy fix, no-one in retail needs further convincing or evidence of the importance of the online experience on overall profitability. These results are confirmation that there is still a lot of room for improvement, highlighting the real opportunity for retailers to fix some of the basics.”

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director at TCC Global, adds: “Even pure play retailers, often held up as being the best-of-the-best when it comes to ecommerce, offer plenty of room for improvement from end-to-end, which is surprising. Shoppers wouldn’t put up with slow service in-store, and the same applies online. Slow site speeds and complex checkout functions can all result in an abandoned basket, just as a long queue can force shoppers into leaving a store.

The challenging economics of multichannel are evident. Not all shoppers are getting the flexibility they want when it comes to delivery, but will it actually pay for retailers to meet the increasingly demanding needs of shoppers? Some retailers are firmly wedded to free delivery, others like Amazon operate a mixture of charges and subscription-style services and some charge. It will be interesting to see how retailers juggle the very rigorous challenges that multichannel creates, while balancing the books when it comes to delivery and returns.”

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