Where usability surveys meet marketing
  • General Retail
    At the dawn of a global digital era, is there room for optimisation online ?


    Heavily involved in the multi-channel strategy, committed in the social media engagement process, these major retailers, probably more than anyone, are fully aware of the price paid for customer’s dissatisfaction. In a fast moving environment where the way to shop is seriously revisited with the broad range of channels made available (high street shops, online and/or paper catalogue, mobile devices, apps, kiosk, ..) each retailer is facing the challenge to capture and secure its client base.
    In this context, let’s make sure that one has the right information to make the correct decision to optimise its business with the customer experience as a driver.
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Methodology
Set into real navigation conditions, a statistically reliable sample of more than 150 e-shoppers for each site completed the 6 tasks and during the whole course of their navigation (after each task and at the end of their navigation) delivered their views on several key dimensions (perception, satisfaction and image).

As a matter of fact, each site has been tested only by “non clients” in order to focus on the “first navigation” impact. Each user navigates on a website randomly allocated based on the answers provided during the screening questionnaire phase.

For the purpose of the survey, Yuseo worked with Research Now in order to recruit the participants. The survey took place between November 26th and December 9th 2011.
For the purpose of the survey, each participant (specifically screened) completed 6 tasks on each site and answered more than 70 questions before, during and after the navigation. To assess the online customer experience, the tasks given to the participants did cover the 3 main issues at stake :

Finding products online : 2 tasks to look for different products of the sites enabling participants to browse the different sections of products, directly assessing the online merchandising : appliance, board games, handbag, furniture, dinner set,…

Online process : 2 tasks to initiate the order of products including if available the “click and collect” option .

Customer support and information : 2 tasks to find information related to the warranty extension proposed on a TV and the product return policy.
Context
In the UK market, you can hardly get any bigger and more famous than the 8 retailers involved in this e-Performance Observatory. Proposing such a broad range of products and so deeply immersed, for many years, in the British consumers’ lives, all retailers tested represent some sort of barometer of the general retail health and trends.

Chloe Rigby,
Web Editor of Internet Retailing clearly synthesises some of the key aspects at stake :
"Today the unlimited possibilities of cyberspace mean that some retailers are now looking to stock as much as they can, offering thousands of extra items in their online inventories.

Argos, for example, has extended the range it offers in its shops and catalogues – which itself offers 22,000 items - by offering well over 12,000 products that are only available to buy through its website. With so much on offer, it’s key to have ways that the shopper can identify and buy the single thing they are looking for. Meanwhile M&S stocks ranges online that are exclusive to it. Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest online retailer Amazon’s mission statement is: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.”

Small wonder then that when shoppers approach companies like these they expect to be able to buy  anything they want.
For Andrew McClelland, COO at IMRG, the retailers strategy induces a demand for the type of benchmark surveys proposed by YUSEO :
"The modern e-retail shopper can arrive at a retailer’s site through a variety of different channels. Some of these occur through platforms such as mobile, which focus strongly on relevance and ease-of-navigation as opposed to breadth of products. This expectation of convenient experience when engaging with a brand feeds into all channels however and can mean the difference between a loyal customer and a lost  opportunity.

Retailers have so many areas to focus on in the provision of that positive experience that they can get bogged down in complicated analytics, and they sometimes needs studies such as this that take a step back and ask the basic questions in order to identify elements that are not as intuitive as the might be."
Results
To assess the e-Performance, the 2 metricsnavigation experience and user satisfaction – are the core data proposed by YUSEO’s Observatory. It allows positioning each site tested amongst the different competitors in accordance to its own results on these 2 axes (each axe represents the average measured within this set of players).

In an increasingly competitive market, each website constantly tailors and focuses on the range and
quality of products and services proposed to attract and retain the user.

In this context, the design choices have to deliver and induce such quality of experience to the online customers. It is all the more crucial to make sure such efforts are optimised to efficiently achieve the objectives.
On the mapping hereafter, 2 groups of retailers clearly appear : one which is more consistent regarding the Navigation Experience Score and the User Satisfaction Score; and another group on the left corner for which users were struggling.

For the players above the average we can distinguish two situations: John Lewis, Amazon and Tesco which have a satisfaction score higher than the experience score. It shows that they let a better impression comparing what user really achieve to do during the tasks of the survey. To explain this pattern, we have to put in perspective the brand capital (awareness, image ..) and the quality of navigation (usability, design ...).

On the other side Argos and Marks & Spencer despite good result on the Navigation Experience Score have a lower satisfaction score. It may be interesting to seek for the reasons of this : is it due to an embedded attitude towards the brand or a “poor” impression induced by the navigation. On this matter, the survey provides some clues when looking in more details some specific topics qualifying the customer experience (layout of the home page for example).