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					                                       Part of the dotDigital Group PLC




Hitting the Checkout
  The dotCommerce benchmark study of
      ecommerce site performance




  20 best and worst, top brand
  ecommerce sites - exposed
  Over 130 best practice guidelines and tips
                                                      2009/10
                                          Contents


                                           Description                                                                            Page

                                           Introduction                                                                                   3

                                           Methodology                                                                                   4

                                           Executive summary and results                                                                  5

                                           Section 1.           Website Content                                                     6-11

                                           Section 2.           Website Design                                                    12-15

                                           Section 3.           Product Search                                                    16-17

                                           Section 4.           Product Page                                                     18-22

                                           Section 5.           Marketing                                                        23-28

                                           Section 6.           Checkout and Transaction Funnel                                  29-34

                                           Section 7.           After Sale                                                       25-39

                                           Conclusion                                                                                  40

                                           Appendix: Full Results                                                                      41

                                           About dotCommerce                                                                           42




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page   2
                                                                                                             Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
                                          Introduction

                                          Background
                                          The dotDigital Group PLC has a ten year history of working with big name brands to design and
                                          build ecommerce sites and websites and create email marketing campaigns that effectively
                                          convert visitors.

                                          Following the launch in 2009 of dotCommerce - the latest ecommerce platform from the
                                          dotDigital Group PLC, we set about researching and benchmarking the effectiveness of major
                                          UK ecommerce sites. The eye-opening findings of that research are presented here, in Hitting
                                          the Checkout.

                                          Who is the report for?
                                          Although this benchmarking study measures the activities of some of the UK’s largest retailers,
                                          the information and guidence provided in this report is relevant for businesses of all shapes
                                          and sizes who have the potential to make more money from online direct sales, in both B2C
                                          and B2B sectors.

                                          The internet widens the goalposts, allowing anyone to sell online with relative ease, and any
                                          online retailer and supplier can benefit from the advice and guidance set out in this report.

                                          Notes
                                          dotCommerce recognises that different retailers have varying objectives and requirements for
                                          their websites and differing experiences of the best ways to achieve these with their own target
                                          audience. This report analyses success factors on a general, best practice basis.

                                          The study represents a snapshot of certain key pages on the websites on 13th May 2009. It is
                                          acknowledged that the websites included may have changed since this date.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance     Page   3
                                                                                                                        Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
                                          Methodology

                                          The dotCommerce team analysed the websites of a sample of 20 of the UK’s leading online
                                          retailers.* A sample of five of the top retailers were selected from the following four categories:


                                           Department Store                Entertainment       Health & Beauty        Electricals
                                           Argos                           Amazon.co.uk        Boots                  Comet
                                           Tesco                           hmv.com             lookfantastic .com     Currys
                                           Marks and Spencer               Play.com            Vie at home            Maplin
                                           Asda                            LoveFilm.com        The Fragrance Shop     PC World
                                           John Lewis                      Game                Avon                   Dixons


                                          The retailers were judged on seven key areas of ecommerce and against 24 criteria, based
                                          on best practice guidelines drawn up by the dotCommerce team. Each retailer was awarded a
                                          percentage score to indicate the effectiveness of their ecommerce site.


                                          The 24 criteria assessed were:
                                                                                               Marketing
                                          Website Content                                         Search engine marketing
                                             ‘Added value’ editorial content                      Sales promotion mechanisms
                                             Finding important information                        Data capture
                                             User generated content                               Social networking and viral
                                             Customer service contact information                 marketing options

                                          Website Design                                       Checkout and Transaction Funnel
                                             Homepage layout                                      Integrated payment – payment screen is
                                             Page design consistency                              on the branded domain
                                             Tone and presentation                                Delivery options
                                             Design and brand experience                          Data security and permission capture
                                                                                                  Option to remember payment details
                                          Product Search                                          Product recommendation and
                                              Search functionality                                loyalty scheme

                                          Product Page                                         After Sale
                                              Page weight                                          Email confirmation
                                              Product images                                       Online order tracking
                                              Merchandising detail                                 Post-sale email marketing




*Sample of ecommerce sites drawn
from IMRG/Hitwise Hot Shops list
February 2009, contributors to the
IMRG Capgemini Index (e-retail
sales) and winners of the IMRG
Annual Online Performance Awards.
None of the companies chosen is a
client of the dotDigital Group PLC



Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance          Page   4
                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
                                          Executive Summary and Results

                                          This table presents the overall percentage scores for each of the 20 retailers, with the highest
                                          score denoting the most effective ecommerce website*.


                                           Brand                               Total           Brand                          Total

                                           Marks and Spencer                   82              Look fantastic.com             67
                                           John Lewis                          78              Maplin                         66
                                           Boots                               73              Tesco                          66
                                           Amazon.co.uk                        73              Argos                          65
                                           hmv.com                             72              Play.com                       65
                                           PC World                            71              Asda                           65
                                           Game                                71              Currys                         64
                                           Comet                               71              Vie at home                    62
                                           Dixons                              69              The Fragrance Shop             56
                                           LoveFilm.com                        68              Avon                           54


                                          Whilst none of the retailers we assessed scored less than half marks, the average score was
                                          just 68%. So there is clearly still some work to do on the part of online retailers to ensure they
                                          are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them online.

                                          Marks and Spencer topped the table, followed by John Lewis. At the bottom of the league table
                                          were 3 leading Beauty sector sites – Vie at home, The Fragrance Shop and Avon.

                                          The study reveals that most retailers are following best practice guidelines when it comes
                                          to the more traditional aspects of ecommerce. For example, every website included easy-
                                          to-use FAQs, free-text search with thumbnail images, online order tracking and email order
                                          confirmations.

                                          However, many retailers are failing to embrace the aspects of ecommerce that can really add
                                          value for customers and help drive customer spend. Only 45% provided editorial content
                                          on their site and only 50% used video to give an extra dimension to the online shopping
                                          experience. User generated content and social media were also largely ignored, with few
                                          embracing blogging (15%) or allowing user comments (10%).

                                          Elsewhere, retailers are neglecting additional marketing opportunities that can increase basket
                                          value: just 55% offered free delivery options and 40% didn’t include up-sell functionality
                                          during the checkout process.

                                          The majority of companies made little effort to forge longer term bonds with online customers.
                                          Only 35% actively publicised a loyalty scheme or asked shoppers to sign up for email
                                          marketing at the time of purchase. Post-sale efforts were also poor with only 40% sending a
                                          marketing email within 10 days of delivery of the product and only 4% personalising the email
                                          marketing message – essential for maximising engagement and response.




*See Appendix on page 41 for a full
breakdown of scores




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance           Page   5
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          The old adage ‘Content is King’ certainly holds true in ecommerce. Engaging content helps
                                          to grab and hold the attention of website visitors and encourage customers and prospects to
                                          keep coming back for more.

                                          1.1 Editorial content
                                          To succeed, an ecommerce site cannot simply provide product details and a purchase channel.
                                          The content of the site needs to provide ‘added value’ and contribute to the user experience.
                                          Including engaging content such as editorial features or video will encourage visitors to stay
                                          longer and can introduce them to new products that they hadn’t previously considered.

                                          Additional keyword-rich content can also help push a site up those all important search
                                          engine rankings.

                                          Average score: 12 out of 25 = 48%

                                          High flyers: Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, LoveFilm.com, Vie at home, Maplin.


 i John Lewis provide a video                                   i
guide to shooting good movies,
helping add value for customers
and sell more camcorders.

 ii Opening in a new window,
Marks and Spencer link to a
microsite that provides editorial
content on their corporate social
responsibility plans. They wisely
provide a prominent link back to
the online shop.




                                              ii




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance    Page   6
                                                                                                                       Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          Overall performance in this category was poor. Over half the retailers we assessed failed to
                                          include editorial material or video content in their ecommerce site. 30% didn’t include any
                                          added value subject matter at all. Of those that did, buyer guides were by far the most common
                                          content of this kind provided.

                                          Some of the retailers were more creative with their content. For example, Marks and Spencer
                                          included a wallpaper calculator to help customers work out the amount of paper they would
                                          need to fit a certain sized room. The inclusion of video was mainly focused on adding an extra
                                          dimension to product descriptions. Maplin however included its own branded YouTube channel
                                          featuring product demonstrations and ‘How to’ guides and Virgin Vie included YouTube videos
                                          of clients’ home parties.

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                               Where possible use video to provide an extra dimension to product pages and to
                                               editorial content
                                               Include SEO keywords in editorial content to improve search engine rankings
Top tips                                       If optimising content for key search terms, aim for a keyword density of around 1 keyword
                                               per 100 words. Keyword saturation can cause Google to penalise your site
               gr
                roup
  Think about grouping                         Use editorial ‘human interest’ content to build a customer community around your site –
  products into themes and
                                               include features and profiles on customers, suppliers, branches or members of your staff
  devising some additional
  content that would be useful                 Include ‘How to’ guides on areas of related interest to customers
  to customers shopping in
  that particular area.                        Test using microsites to focus on added value content, but ensure there are always
                                               prominent and relevant links back to your online shopping site, on every microsite page




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance     Page   7
                                                                                                                        Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          1.2 Important information is easily accessible
                                          There are few things more frustrating for online shoppers than trying to locate information
                                          when it’s buried and hidden in the depths of the website. In fact, a recent survey found that
                                          46% of UK consumers felt that the inability to find information was the most significant cause
                                          of frustration when shopping online1.

                                          We studied our 20 leading online retail websites to see how easy it was to find important
                                          information regarding their returns policy, delivery costs and options, and an ‘About Us’ page.

                                          Average score: 46 out of 60 = 77%

                                          High flyers: Currys, The Fragrance Shop ,Vie at home, Boots, Amazon.co.uk,
                                          John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Argos.


 i The ‘about us’ link is clearly
                                            i
visible in the top menu.
The ‘free delivery’ option is
clearly advertised next to the
logo – a key selling point.
In the bottom menu there is
another link to the ‘about us’
page, alongside ‘delivery info’,
‘returns’ and ‘FAQ’.

                                          The retailers we assessed included most of the key information on their websites, but the links
                                          were often hidden and hard to find. However, an FAQ or help section was easily identifiable on
                                          every website.

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                                About us – this page should include relevant information about the company including
                                                its contact details, history and how long it has been trading. Customers like to know
                                                that a company is reputable, especially in the current climate
                                                Delivery pricing – savvy website shoppers know that, more often than not, a delivery price
Top tips                                        will be added to baskets during checkout. Providing this information when the goods are
                                                added to the basket will prevent any shocks – and abandoned baskets – in the checkout funnel
                 he
   Whilst it is th pr
                the product that                Delivery terms – if you need something for a certain date – a present, for example – it’s
   will eventually draw the
        eventuall
   customer to t checkout,
                  the
                                                crucial to know how long delivery will take
   making sure that all the                     Returns information – for many products, customers will be more willing to buy if they are
   details they need to inform                  assured that they can return the item if it is not required
   a purchase are readily
   available will significantly                  FAQ – a help or FAQ page online will encourage visitors to find the answers to common
   improve the customer                         queries themselves and can help reduce the number of calls into your customer service team
   experience, and their
   confidence to purchase.
                                                Ensuring all this information is easily accessible to customers will make them less likely to
                                                abandon their visit




1. SciVisum, September 2006




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page   8
                                                                                                                            Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          1.3 User generated content
                                          In today’s web 2.0 world, user generated content is becoming a must-have rather than a nice-
                                          to-have for an effective ecommerce site. It’s a no-brainer – encouraging visitors to contribute to
                                          a site increases brand affinity and makes them feel valued and included.

                                          It’s also a great way to get additional (often very high quality) content for a site, inspire
                                          customer confidence and increase conversion to sale rates – (research shows that 87% of
                                          people trust a peer recommendation over a critic’s review2).

                                          Average score: 19 out of 40 = 48%

                                          High flyers: LoveFilm.com, Vie at home, Play.com, Amazon.co.uk

                                          Only 5 of the retailers we surveyed scored more than 50% in this section. Whilst user product
                                          reviews featured across many of the sites, wider use of user generated content was lacking,
                                          with few of the ecommerce site taking advantage of blogs, forums or polls for example.

                                          These retailers are missing the opportunity to have their site loaded with up-to-date, ‘SEO
                                          friendly’ and customer confidence-inspiring content – free of charge, courtesy of their site
                                          users. What’s more, they are missing an opportunity to build an engaged community of visitors
                                          to their site who will spend more and refer more.



 i The Vie at home blog includes                                                               i
contributions from staff, experts
and guest bloggers, and provides
clear links to Facebook, Vie at
home on YouTube and Twitter.

 ii LoveFilm.com offers a range of
reviews categories along with a
user ratings breakdown.




                                           ii




2. Marketing Sherpa 2008




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page   9
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                               Include a blog on your ecommerce site. It helps add personality and currency to the site,
                                               and can assist SEO – blogs are indexed by search engines faster than standard content pages
                                               Give customers the opportunity to leave reviews and ratings for your products in order to
                                               add credibility to the online shop and inspire users to buy with confidence
                                               Make sure you have editorial approval over user generated content before it is published
Top tips                                       on your site
                                               Include user forums to help reduce demand on your customer care team by enabling users
              cu
               usto
  Incentivise customers to                     to share questions and answers around your products and services, on the forum itself
  write reviews in post-sale
  email marketing campaigns.
         market                                Monitor your user forum carefully for surfacing issues – either positive or negative – that
  These could include money-                   you need to act on or address
  off vouchers or exclusive
  access to new products.
                                               Use polls to encourage users to interact with your site and help build an online community
                                               spirit as well as encouraging return visits




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 10
                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 1                                 Website Content

                                          1.4 Customer service and contact information
                                          No matter how comprehensive the FAQ section, customers will inevitably have questions
                                          that can’t be answered on the website alone. In these circumstances, visitors have two main
                                          options: either try and get help, or switch to a competitor. Making the first option as easy as
                                          possible will help retain a potential buyer and increase conversions.

                                          Perhaps unfortunately for retailers, in today’s multi-channel world, customers expect a
                                          multitude of different contact options to be available to them. Creating a good customer
                                          experience will depend on being able to provide as many contact options as required and
                                          making sure these are easy to find on the site.

                                          Average score: 13 out of 25 = 52%

                                          High flyers: Comet


 i On the Comet site, the phone             i
number is clearly displayed at
the top of every single page on
the website.

Users are offered a ‘click and
chat’ box on each product
page, so they can directly talk
via IM to a customer services
representative.
                                          Almost every retailer included phone (95%) and email (95%) contact details with 75% also
                                          providing a postal address. But live chat options were far less common with only Comet
                                          providing this facility. Not one of the retailers assessed included a ‘Call Me Back’ button that
                                          allows customers to proactively request a call from the customer services team.

                                          Whilst the cost of customer service can put a strain on business resources, technologies like
                                          live chat can help by enabling agents to handle multiple chat sessions.
Top tips
                                          Best practice guidelines
  Use live chat and FAQ
  sections to mminimise the
             inc
  number of incoming calls                      Offer as many different contact methods as possible, including:
  and emails, ensuring                                Phone
  customers can receive help                          Email
  directly on the website at                          Live chat
  their time of need, rather
  than forcing them to use                            Call me back
  slower, offline channels.                            Post
                                                Highlight contact options clearly and obviously on the website, especially on product pages
                                                Flag up self-help options like FAQ and searchable knowledge base sections, but don’t force
                                                customers to use these if all they really want is to speak directly to customer services
                                                Build in user generated content to enable users to share questions and answers amongst
                                                themselves on your site, e.g. in an online forum.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page 11
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 2                                 Website Design

                                          Good ecommerce site design requires a balance between supporting or enhancing the brand
                                          identity, and making sure that usability, content and the online shopping experience stay
                                          centre stage.

                                          2.1 Homepage layout
                                          The layout of the homepage is crucial as, in most instances, it will be the landing page for
                                          visitors. The homepage needs to use design effectively to communicate a number of pieces of
                                          information in a clear and concise way.

                                          Average score: 27 out of 30 = 90%

                                          High flyers: Amazon.co.uk, Play, Comet


 i The top and left navigation              i
bars clearly outline the main
categories and product areas.
Special offers are obviously
displayed alongside new
products. New releases and
hot picks are other marketing
devices that will entice
‘browsers’ who might be unsure
what they are looking for.




                                          The retailers we assessed performed well in this category with only one failing to score. One of
                                          the danger areas for some of the homepages was that the page layout became overly complex
                                          and busy. The most effective pages struck a good balance between content and focused calls
                                          to action.

                                          Best practice guidelines

Top tips                                        Don’t drown the user with text and information – use design to focus the user’s attention
                                                on the core messages, links and calls to action
  Use dynamic content to tailor
                cont
                c                               Keep main calls to action ‘above the fold’
      personalis
  and personalise homepage
                                                Make sure the main navigation is obvious, with key departments or categories clearly labelled
              ret
  content for returning users,
  based on their own settings                   Use personalisation to entice returning visitors
  or behaviour on your site.
                                                Keep a good mix between popular items and special offers




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance        Page 12
                                                                                                                            Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 2                                 Website Design

                                      2.2 Page design consistency
                                      Consistent use of logos, strap lines, navigation and design across the site is important to
                                      maintain usability and user confidence.

                                      There are conventions to follow as well. Most web users will be familiar with seeing a brand’s logo
                                      at the top left of the webpage. The logo can also provide an easy to find link to the homepage no
                                      matter where a user is on the site.

                                      Average score: 46 out of 50 = 92%
                                      High flyers: Asda, Comet, The Fragrance Shop

 i The logo is clearly presented            i
in the top left corner. The
colours, fonts and layout used
clearly reflect the company’s
branding. The design is
consistent between homepage
and product page.




                                          The retailers scored very highly in this category with most websites demonstrating consistency
Top tips                                  throughout their sites. The area where retailers fell down was in relation to the consistency
                                          between landing pages and product pages, with some sites including a very different look and
                e that
  Don’t assume tha because                feel on deeper pages.
  your brand is sufficiently
               ‘offl
  well known ‘o ine’, a
  strap line on your website              Best practice guidelines
  isn’t necessary. A powerful
  strap line, consitently                       Keep the logo and strap line in the top left on every single page. Link the logo back to
  positioned on all web pages,                  the homepage
  with a single-minded and
  compelling proposition can                    Keep navigation consistent across the site
  say more about you than
  pages of website content
                                                Keep link styles and fonts consistent across the site
  – and help to drive more                      Ensure there is enough consistency between homepage and product pages to maintain
  conversions.                                  user confidence in the site and the brand




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance        Page 13
                                                                                                                            Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 2                                 Website Design

                                          2.3 Tone and presentation
                                          This section looked at how well the retailers knew their target audience and how well the
                                          website spoke to this group.

                                          Tone is always a very difficult criterion to get spot on and requires a range of considerations
                                          from design and branding, to content and vocabulary. This is important both for customers
                                          that are already familiar with the brand and for those who are trying a website or a brand for
                                          the first time.

                                          Average score: 25 out of 50 = 50%
                                          High flyers: John Lewis, Boots, hmv.com

 i The Boots site feels like
                                            i
walking into a freshly fitted-out
Boots store. Although the design
is appropriately clinical, good
photos and banners lift the site
to make it more friendly.




                                          With so many components to get right, it is no surprise that there was a varied range of scores
                                          in this section.

                                          Whilst some of the websites were clearly (and correctly) geared toward a particular
                                          demographic and user profile, other sites took a more neutral approach, aiming to appeal to a
                                          wider cross-section of the population. Both approaches are equally valid, as long as they don’t
                                          become confused.

                                          At one end of the scale, the John Lewis site conveyed the high-end quality of the brand
                                          and its values. Conversely, the hmv.com site, with its splash of offers and deals spoke to a
                                          different target market using a very different tone and presentation.
Top tips
                                          Best practice
               your
 Get to know your customers.
 ‘Paint a picture’ of the
          pictur
 people you want to attract
              wa                                Think carefully about every component on the website and ensure they all match the
 and sell to – how they look,                   overall tone and presentation style of the brand
 the kind of sites they visit and
                                                Pictures are vital for any ecommerce site, but the style of photography will largely
 media they consume. This
 will help you design and write                 depend on the tone you want to convey
 content with an appropriate                    Writing compelling copy that will appeal to the right audience is no easy feat. ‘Less is
 tone and style.
                                                more’ is often a good start here



Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page 14
                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 2                                 Website Design

                                          2.4 Design and brand experience
                                          Engaging design can be the difference between increasing or decreasing your ‘bounce’ rate
                                          (i.e. percentage of visitors who enter your site on a certain page and leave without visiting any
                                          other pages). If a site’s design is compelling and fits in well with the brand and the products
                                          being sold, this can have a dramatic effect on conversion rates.

                                          Average score: 27 out of 35 = 77%
                                          High flyers:, Play, lookfantastic.com, Argos, Boots


 i With a brand that is all about           i
looking good, the site design
certainly has a glamorous feel.
The ‘fashion’ photography adds to
the magazine-type feel of the site,
backed up by good quality content.




Top tips
  R       b th t t
              tha
  Remember that trust plays
  an important role in a users
  decision to buy a product
  d i i t b                               Again, there were mixed scores in this section. The challenge for most retailers seemed to stem
  from your site, or from a               from problems around combining brand enhancing design with the necessary functionality
  competitor’s. Investing some            required on the site. Too often, content ran the risk of getting in the way of the overall look and feel.
  of your budget (and your
  time) in creating a really
  good site design will pay               Best practice guidelines
  dividends down the line.
  Some designers are not                        ‘Clicks and mortar’ retailers need to have a clear understanding of their offline brand
  as au fait when it comes to                   and shopping experience in order to ensure the online brand supports and reflects them
  designing for ecommerce
  and its particular design
                                                consistently
  rules. Remember – you’re                      Understand clearly what the proposition, competitive stance or USP of your retail business
  not designing to win awards,                  or online shop is. This will inform the tone and presentation of the site (e.g. if your
  you’re designing to win
                                                proposition is that you ‘pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’ then your website design
  business.
                                                and tone of copy should convey this)



Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance         Page 15
                                                                                                                              Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 3                                 Product Search

                                          Flexible, refinable and effective product search is essential for a successful ecommerce site.
                                          Users need to be able to find what they want, examine your products in detail and compare
                                          them with other products easily. They need to be able to narrow and broaden their searches,
                                          sort them as they choose and see their results at a glance. If a user can’t do all this, they may
                                          well search elsewhere.

                                          3.1 Search functionality
                                          Providing an easy to find and easy to use search box is crucial, especially for retail websites
                                          that feature a large range of products.

                                          However, it’s important to provide additional options above and beyond standard search
                                          functionality. If nothing else, your search engine should allow for the following:

                                                Free keyword search
                                                Refineable search
                                                The ability to add or remove filters without starting over

                                          Average score: 46 out of 63 = 73%
                                          High flyers: Marks and Spencer, hmv.com, Asda, Amazon.co.uk


 i The search box on the                                                                       i
hmv.com site is clearly visible at
the top of every page with a drop
down box to narrow searches
from the start. Searches can be
refined or sorted by a range of
different options and search
quantities are included in
brackets. hmv.com also had a
very impressive advanced
search function.

 ii Marks and Spencer provided
the ability to sort search results
by price, relevance, best-selling
and new arrivals. Up to 60
results can be viewed on the               ii
same page.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page 16
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 3                                 Product Search

                                          Unsurprisingly, it was the retailers selling a wide variety of products that scored particularly
                                          well here, but it would be wrong for any retailer to become complacent with basic search
                                          functionality. Many web users are pretty good at using advanced search options (think of the
                                          possible search options that Google now provides) and so are entitiled to expect the same
                                          standard elsewhere.

                                          Every retailer included free-text search on their website and 85% gave the option to refine
                                          search results using filters. However, only 55% gave the option to add or remove further filters.
                                          This is particularly important as many web users don’t get their search right first time. They
                                          will often need - and want – to refine and improve search queries to find exactly what they are
                                          looking for.

                                          Few retailers included advanced sorting options with only a minority including the ability to
                                          sort by features or user rating (both 35%), best-selling (20%) or newest to oldest (15%). Only
                                          25% gave the option to view all search results on one page.

Top tips                                  Best practice guidelines
   If your out of the box site                 Make sure the search box and search options are prominent on every page
   search isn’t powerful
                p
   enough then consider out-                   Enable users to add or remove filters during their search, without having to use the
   sourcing search to one of                   back button
   the many third parties who
   can do this for you. However                Include thumbnails of product images in search results pages to encourage click-throughs
   be aware, they don’t come                   Where feasible, allow users to view all their search results on one page without having to
   cheap. So make sure you                     click forward through separate pages
   have the traffic and revenue
   to support it.                              Enable users to sort their search results by relevant criteria (e.g. price, user rating, best-
                                               selling, best match)




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                                                                                                                              Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 4                                 Product Page

                                          The product page is your opportunity to showcase your goods, highlight key features and
                                          ensure the customer has all the information they need to make a confident purchase.

                                          4.1 Page weight
                                          The ‘weight’ of the homepage will decide how long a new visitor has to wait for the page
                                          to load.

                                          Many people choose to shop online because of the time saving advantages. So as well as clear
                                          and logical site design and navigation, the speed of page loading is also an important factor
                                          for users.

                                          Accepted best practice is that a homepage should load in less than 10 seconds. The challenge is
                                          to test and find the best balance between loading time and the use of impactful, sticky content.

                                          For the purposes of scoring in this report, we used an ADSL broadband connection, for which a
                                          homepage needed to weigh 500kb or less in order to load in 10 seconds or under.

                                          Average score: 12 out of 20 = 60%
                                          High flyers: Asda, Vie at home, Avon

 i The Avon homepage weighs                 i
just 232kb, delivering a fast
load time, whilst still including
impactful images and content.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance    Page 18
                                                                                                                        Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 4                                 Product Page


Top tips
                                          The retailers were a mixed bag in terms of homepage weights, with 8 of the 20 ecommerce site
  1 If you are going to use large
               goi
                                          homepages we analysed weighing in at more than 500kb. The Fragrance Shop, Game and hmv.
              consider using a
 images then co
 CDN (content delivery network)
                d                         com each weighed in at well over 1mb.
 to ensure that content is sent
 to the user at the highest               Whilst some will achieve swift loading times on a broadband connection (average speed of
 possible speed. Ensure that              2.95mbps), others run the risk of losing visitors simply because their homepages can take
 caching is enabled on your               longer than 10 seconds to load on broadband and therefore much, much longer on dial-up.
 front-end servers so that
 information isn’t needlessly             We found that many of the retailers’ homepages with quicker loading times didn’t have
 sent twice.                              to abandon the use of images and sacrifice impact or stickiness.
  2 Check your site in Firefox
 using the ‘yslow’ plugin for a           Best practice guidelines
 test of overall performance of
 your page, and for tips on how
                                               Ensure key parts of the page load quickly to capture and hold visitors’ attention
 to improve it.
                                               A/B split test different weights of homepage, to test the effect on bounce rates
  3 Check your analytics system
 to see if mobile browsers are                 Optimise image files to reduce their size to the minimum required whilst maintaining
 making up a significant or                     sufficient image quality
 increasing chunk of users.                    Use Flash files and large animations with care
 If your site isn’t compatible,
 redirect them to a purpose-built              Use analytics to profile your visitors by internet connection speed, before deciding on your
 mini-site with contact details or             target homepage weight
 special phone number.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 19
                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 4                                 Product Page

                                          4.2 Product images
                                          Showing off your products in the best possible light is a sure fire way to entice website visitors
                                          to find out more and purchase with confidence. By including multiple views of each product
                                          you increase the chances that a shopper will convert online rather than seek the product out
                                          in-store.

                                          Average score: 43 out of 65 = 66%
                                          High flyers: Play.com, Amazon.co.uk

i  Play.com product pages                   i
include enlargeable images,
multiple images and video
product demos.

 ii Amazon.co.uk provide a ‘Look
inside’ feature so users can read
samples of books before they buy
– just like in a real book shop.




                                           ii




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                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 4                                 Product Page

                                          We were surprised to find that not one of the 20 retailers we assessed offered 3D rotatable
                                          images. The more detailed views of products a retailer can offer, the greater the likelihood of a
                                          conversion to sale.

                                          Although all retailers provided at least one product image, just half of the retailers we
                                          examined provided two or more. Even for entertainment products like books and DVDs, it’s
                                          beneficial to give customers the opportunity to read the back of the case, just as you would in
                                          the shop. Amazon.co.uk was exemplary in this respect. By allowing site users to look at both
                                          covers and also inside the books, they made the experience as immersive as if the customer
                                          were in a store.

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                               Always include at least one, clear, high quality image of your product or service on the
                                               product page
                                               Include an image gallery to provide customers with multiple views of products and see
                                               them in context and in use
Top tips                                       Ensure products images are enlargeable
                                               Include zoomable and 3D rotatable images to enable customers to get detailed, 360
 Use thumbnails to reduce page
     th b il
 U thumbnail t
                                               degree views
 weight and download times.
            dow
                                               Include videos and animations of products where possible




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                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 4                                 Product Page

                                          4.3 Merchandising detail
                                          Converting an ecommerce site visitor to a purchaser is largely a matter of providing the user
                                          with enough information that they have the confidence to purchase. During the course of our
                                          research, we looked at key online product merchandising techniques that help drive user
                                          confidence, including stock indicators, product comparison options and the option to select
                                          which currency to purchase in.

                                          Average score: 41 out of 70 = 58%
                                          High flyers: Argos, John Lewis, Play.com, Dixons

 i Comet allows customers to                i
compare products and their
features and ratings, side by side
to aid the purchase decision.




                                          14 out of the 20 retailers provided a stock level indicator. Those who failed to do this are
                                          risking losing potential sales.

                                          Only 5 out of the 20 sites included a product comparison feature, with department stores
                                          leading the way – Argos, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Comet and Dixons. Customers who
                                          like to shop this way will simply go to a competitor site that offers a comparison feature if they
Top tips                                  need to make comparisons.

                                          Most surprisingly of all, only 2 of the retailers offered pricing in a choice of currency on their
             your copy
                ur
 Make sure you co is                      sites. Online selling has the potential to give retailers access to a truly international and global
 salesy! Sell the benefits and
 features of a p
               product, but
                                          market. Those who offer flexible currency pricing place themselves in the strongest position to
 also make sure you have a                tap into these lucrative markets.
 good collection of product
 shots and as much data as                Best practice guidelines
 possible for the analytical
 types. If you have more copy,
 product imagery and product                    Provide an indication of stock levels to reassure customers that there will be no issues with
 specification data than                         the delivery of the product they want to order
 competitors, buyers will view
                                                Provide an option for customers to compare their selection of products, side by side
 you as more authoritative,
 and you are more likely to get                 Provide multi-currency pricing options so website visitors from overseas countries can
 the sale.                                      select the currency in which they want to see the price




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                                                                                                                            Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 5                                 Marketing

                                          Search engine description - in a Google natural search, what description
                                          is displayed by Google for the homepage?
                                          A website’s meta description has one key purpose – to drive click-throughs from the
                                          search engine results page to your website. Think of it as an advertisement – NOT as a
                                          collection of keywords.

                                          Average score: 20 out of 25 = 80%
                                          High flyers: Argos, Tesco, Asda, John Lewis, Play.com, LoveFilm.com, Vie at home, Comet,
                                          Currys, Maplin

                                          Not enough of the retailers were on top of this, with only 10 of the 20 ensuring their meta
                                          description in a Google natural search displayed an effective and compelling summary of their
                                          mission, without becoming truncated. Truncation is where Google is unable to show the whole
                                          of the description because the text is too long. In these cases some editing would help to
                                          ensure the description is optimised to deliver the strongest message within a limited character
                                          count, and maximise click-throughs.

                                          In too many cases retailers who had compelling reasons for searchers to visit their site, such as
                                          free delivery, price discounts or a USP, didn’t mention these in their meta description.


 i Maplin’s description is                  i
compelling – but don’t forget to
check for typos before publication.




Top tips                                  Best practice guidelines
              your meta
                ur
 Don’t focus you m                              Your meta description should provide a clear and concise summary of your website and
 description on keywords. It’s
                                                clearly communicate what a visitor to your site can expect to find
             using
 well worth usin a couple
 of keywords where possible                     The description should compel the searcher to click through to your website (without
 in your description, but the                   being gimmicky)
 page title rather than the
 description is your best                       The length of text should be optimised to avoid truncation
 optimisation tag for keywords.                 Meta copy should not sacrifice click-throughs for search rankings




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                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 5                                 Marketing

                                          5.2 Sales promotion mechanisms
                                          Once you’ve enticed the customer to explore your website, it’s time to maximise their
                                          spending potential. Cross-selling and up-selling, ‘deals of the day’ and best seller lists will
                                          draw customers to products they may not have been considering, drive return traffic and help
                                          maximise revenue per visit.

                                          The sales promotion mechanisms we scored against in this category were:

                                                Just arrived/coming soon
                                                Offers department
                                                Deal of the day/week
                                                Best sellers
                                                Bundles or buy-one-get-one-frees
                                                Most popular searches
                                                Wish lists
                                                Cross-sell
                                                Up-sell
                                                Loyalty scheme advertised on front pages

                                          Average score: 50 out of 90 – 55%
                                          High flyers: Boots, Avon, lookfantastic.com

 i The Fragrance Shop displays              i
a wide variety of mechanisms
to encourage users to explore
their product range and offers,
including: Special Offers: Top
Sellers: New Fragrances: Best
Sellers of the Month: This Week’s
Star Buys.




                                          No retailers scored full marks in this section and 45% scored less than half marks.

                                          Retailers need to take advantage of every tool and technique available to help increase spend
                                          per customer per visit. Proven sales promotion techniques such as bundled offers and cross-
                                          sell/up-sell suggestions drive customers to spend more and lend themselves perfectly to the
                                          ecommerce site medium.




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                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 5                                 Marketing

                                          Somewhat surprising was the fact that the electrical retailers, whilst efficient at cross-selling,
                                          performed poorly in the area of up-selling. High-value goods offer an ideal opportunity to
                                          tempt an aspirational customer into buying the next model up!

                                          We were also interested to discover that just half of the retailers offered customers the
                                          opportunity to build a wish list. Wish lists are a great mechanism for reminding users of
                                          products they may have forgotten they wanted, and can also encourage customers to refer
                                          their friends and family to the site too.

Top tips                                  Best practice guidelines
        promotion devices that
 Sales promotio don
                                               Test different promotional mechanisms to see which work best for your site
 automatically “discover”
 likely cross se based on
              sells                            Promote special offers on the home page as well as product pages
 shopping habits and “x goes
 well with y” are difficult and                 Use time sensitive offers such as ‘Deal of the Day’ or ‘Deal of the Week’ to encourage users
 expensive to write yourself.                  to return regularly to the site
 However there are several                     Make it easy for users to find special offers
 3rd parties that offer this
 functionality on a monthly                    Inspire customer confidence by showing best sellers and most popular searches
 rental basis. If your
                                               Maximise returning visits by featuring regularly updated just arrived/coming soon sections
 ecommerce platform does not
 support using one of these,                   Increase spend without discounting price by creating bundled offers
 then consider changing to one
                                               Enable users to set up private wish lists as well as gift lists to encourage engagement
 that does as these are proven
 mechanisms to generate more                   and referrals
 sales. See also section 6.5.                  Where appropriate, encourage customer spend through an online loyalty scheme




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 25
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 5                                 Marketing

                                          5.3 Data capture
                                          Using the website to collect opted-in, permission-based contact data is a corner stone of
                                          successful online marketing.

                                          The homepage of an ecommerce site is a critical channel for collecting customer and prospect
                                          contact data for opted-in communications. Once a visitor has taken that first step to engaging with
                                          the retailer by signing up to a newsletter, the customer relationship building process can begin.

                                          Getting visitors to sign up to a newsletter or alerter takes more than just a form. To maximise
                                          the number of signups, retailers need to spell out the benefits of subscribing and make this
                                          call to action a ‘no brainer’.

                                          Average score: 18 out of 30 = 60%
                                          High flyers: hmv.com, Virgin Vie, Avon, Comet, Currys, PC World, Dixons

 i Vie at home provides                     i
prominently placed links inviting
users to sign up to their newsletter
or request a catalogue.




 ii Currys feature a prominent             ii
invitation to users to sign up
for offers and other subscriber
benefits.




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                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
 Section 5                                 Marketing

                                           20% of the retailers surveyed did not include a data collection/sign-up mechanism on their
                                           homepage. Of those that did have the data capture link on the homepage, only half of them
                                           positioned it above the fold where it would be easily visible. The retailers who failed to score
                                           here are missing out on valuable opportunities to capture the contact data of visitors who may
                                           abandon the site without buying, and remain otherwise anonymous.

                                           Best practice guidelines
Top tips
                                                Ensure your data collection link is in a prominent position, above the fold on both your
   Experiment with your signup
                w                               homepage and on deeper content pages
   form by testing alternative
            testi
                                                Spell out the benefits of subscribing or signing up, e.g. special offers, new releases,
   copy, incentives and
   copy incent
   capturing different amounts                  subscriber previews and privileges
   of personal data. If collecting              Let recipients know how frequently they can expect to receive communications from you
   personal details impacts your
                                                (and stick to these commitments)
   signup rate, try collecting
   this in an initial welcome                   Look to capture detail such as ‘where heard’ and ‘gender’ to help you target your initial
   email to new subscribers,                    messages where possible
   or in a follow-up form after
   registration.                                Consider using ‘double opt-in’ whereby the contact is required to validate their email
                                                address by clicking a link in the validation email you have sent them




 Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 27
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 5                                 Marketing

                                          5.4 Social networking and viral marketing options
                                          Over 25% of the UK’s adult population use a social network in one form or another, be that via
                                          sites like Facebook and Twitter, recommendation engines like Digg! or blogging networks.
                                          The power of social recommendations is often greater than paid-for marketing activity, so
                                          retailers would be wise to enable and encourage their customers to share any bargains, unusual
                                          product finds or wish lists by making it easy for them to post the pages to their social networks.

                                          Average score: 5 out of 15 = 33%
                                          High flyers: Maplin, Argos, lookfantastic.com


 i Maplin include a nice range             i
of social network bookmarking
links, but some of the big players
are missing, like Twitter, which
has exploded in popularity in the
UK in 2009.




                                          Overall the retailers we surveyed scored poorly in this section, missing out on opportunities to
                                          spread their marketing reach at no extra cost.

                                          Best practice guidelines
Top tips
                                               Make sure links to share pages on social networking sites are on every product page
             easy
  Make it as easy as possible                  Use ‘Tweet this’ buttons which include the URL and pre-written text
  for customers to post your
  web pages on their social                    Use ‘Email this’ buttons which generate a pre-written email or form
  networking sites with a one-                 Use ‘forward this page’ buttons
  click process.
                                               Encourage customers to follow you on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook, and link with
                                               other marketing messages




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                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

                                          Ensuring your customers are comfortable and confident about transacting on your website
                                          is crucial for turning site visits into sales. With identity fraud and phishing scams rife, online
                                          security is a key concern for many consumers and if your site fails to reassure them of your
                                          integrity and of the safety of their details, most will take their business elsewhere.

                                          6.1 Integrated payment
                                          Reassuringly, this is a criterion that all the retailers we assessed appeared to take seriously.
                                          We awarded full marks to those whose payment pages were integrated within the online shop
                                          domain, and penalised those who took customers off to a third-party domain.

                                          Redirecting customers away from the branded ecommerce site may damage the consumer’s
                                          confidence in the security of the transaction. From the point of view of best practice and brand
                                          trust, dotCommerce recommends always integrating payment screens into the branded site itself.

                                          Average score: 23 out of 25 = 92%
                                          Poor performers: Avon and Currys

 i Avon clearly states that it              i
is redirecting the customer to
the secure payment gateway,
but customers would be more
reassured by simply staying on
the Avon site.




                                          Only two retailers made customers leave the main website in order to complete their
                                          payments. The vast majority recognised the importance of keeping a purchasing customer on
                                          their website.
Top tips
                                          Best practice guidelines
   majority n a
 A majority, if not all credit
             dates expressed
 cards have da
 as numbers. So why do some
    numbers S                                   Ask for the billing address first, and then ask if the billing address is the same as shipping
 checkout systems specify the                   address, so users don’t have to type an address out twice
 month component in words                       Many people still have problems with CCV/CV2/AVS. Make sure you explain what they
 (Jan, Feb Mar) etc? By all
                                                mean and if you take AMEX, be sure to accept 4 digits rather than three and tell users
 means have both words and
 numbers to express a credit                    where to find the security code on an AMEX card
 card expiry date, but don’t                    Be aware of any PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance issues that you might have when
 ask your users to do even
                                                you process or store credit card information. Talk to your payment processor for advice on
 basic mental arithmetic.
                                                these issues




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance        Page 29
                                                                                                                             Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

                                          6.2 Delivery options
                                          Confidence in delivery is a crucial aspect in an individual’s decision to purchase online. Sites
                                          that succeed are those that offer fast, low cost effective, reliable and highly flexible delivery
                                          options to their customers.

                                          Average score: 31 out of 50 = 62%
                                          High flyers: John Lewis, hmv.com, Game, Currys, Maplin, PC World


 i Dixons provide detailed                  i
information on their choice of
delivery services, including a
premium service that enables the
customer to select the date and
time for their delivery.




                                          Retailers scored poorly in this section, with 4 out of the 20 scoring no points at all, and 30%
                                          scoring just half marks. We found a lack of choice and flexibility in delivery options, and a
                                          resistance to offer a free delivery option. In a fiercely competitive online market place, it is the
                                          retailers who shine in this area that online customers will choose to shop with.
Top tips
 You might want to c
  ou             t consider
                                          Best practice
 using multiple s shipping
 providers offer the best cost
                  t                             Be transparent about delivery pricing, early on the purchase transaction process – don’t
 routing for your deliveries.                   leave the details of delivery cost until late in the process when the customer has already
 There are multi channel carrier                invested time and effort in completing form fields
 solutions that will manage this
 for you so you simply pass the                 Be clear and specific about delivery terms
 details of the delivery and they               Where possible, offer a free delivery option
 will return the cheapest carrier
 for the desired flexibility.                    If you offer free delivery options, then publicise this on the homepage, in your meta
 Even if you outsource your                     descriptions and in the basket and checkout process
 warehouse, check if they would
 support different carriers.                    Use free delivery as a mechanism to up-sell to customers, (e.g. ‘spend an extra £5.50 and
                                                get free delivery’)



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                                                                                                                            Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

                                          6.3 Data security and permission capture
                                          Capturing a consumer’s permission to be sent email marketing messages is email marketing
                                          best practice, and important for retailers who want to maximise revenue and sales. Including
                                          an opt-in tick box during the checkout process helps to build a marketing database of actively
                                          engaged email marketing responsive customers.

                                          Average score: 5 out of 15 = 30%
                                          High flyers: Avon, Currys, Comet, PC World, Dixons

i  Avon requires customers to               i
accept the terms of their privacy
policy. Avon then invites them
to actively opt-in to marketing
messages - selling them the
benefits of doing so.




                                          Just 6 out of the 20 retailers we assessed provided our mystery shopper customers with a
                                          simple tick box to opt-in to future marketing communications. The retailers who were marked
                                          down in this section may be missing out on the opportunity to create and segment a highly
                                          responsive email marketing database, and use it to drive viral and referral opportunities to grow
                                          the database further.

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                                Legally, B2C online retailers are required only to offer an opt-out of email communications,
                                                if data collected in the checkout process is to be used for marketing purposes
                                                Collecting an opt-in during the checkout process is best practice, as it can help to build a
Top tips                                        more cost-effective database of highly engaged and responsive consumers
                                                Include at the point of opt-in/opt-out, a link to a friendly privacy policy that states how and
     he            of
    The inclusion o a genuine                   why you store and use personal contact data
    VeriSign, Thawte, Comdo
              Thaw
    or other recogn
             recognised SSL                     Use the wording of your permission statement to inspire confidence on the part of the
    provider logo in your                       customer – not as a legal warning that is more likely to scare them off
    checkout process is essential
                                                Consider using double opt-in to ensure you capture accurate email addresses of highly
    to reassure customers on
    their security and privacy.                 engaged customers who are happy to confirm who they are by clicking on an email link in
                                                order to opt into your email marketing programmes




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                                                                                                                             Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

                                          6.4 Option to store payment details
                                          Online retailers who give their customers the option for their payment details to be securely
                                          stored, make it easier and quicker for their customers to return and make repeat purchases.

                                          Average score: 4 out of 10 = 40%
                                          High flyers: Tesco, Asda, Play.com, Game, PC World, Dixons

                                            i
i  Asda enable users to opt-
out of having their card details
stored. These details can then be
managed in the ‘My Account’ tab.




                                          With an average score of just 35%, this was one area where the retailers we assessed really fell
                                          down. By making it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you, you’ll increase repeat
                                          transactional visits and reduce shopping cart dropout.

Top tips                                  Best practice guidelines
                 the PCI
                  he
    Be aware of th P
                                                Include an opt-in tick box to enable users to indicate if they would like their billing and/or
                 when
    regulations wh storing
    credit card det
                details on your                 credit card details securely stored
    own system. If you want to                  Ask for the CCV number each time a repeat order is placed online
    leverage repeat purchases
    without the expense of                      Provide reassuring copy stating how and why this is a safe and secure option for the user
    gaining PCI compliance then                 to choose
    check with your Payment
                                                Look for opportunities to store and personalise other information shown to individual
    Service Processer and see if
    they can store those details                users – either through the use of cookies, or a log-in. Using customer intelligence to
    for you.                                    personalise content on an ecommerce site helps customers to return to your site, find what
                                                they want and purchase quicker and more easily




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance        Page 32
                                                                                                                             Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

                                          6.5 Product recommendation and loyalty schemes
                                          The power of online product recommendations should not be underestimated. By
                                          recommending relevant and popular products during and after the checkout process you
                                          encourage customers at the point where they are actively purchasing, to make extra impulse
                                          buys. It’s just like supermarkets putting all those bars of chocolate and celeb magazines in
                                          racks by the tills to encourage last minute impulse purchases.

                                          Well run loyalty schemes can also help to drive customer spend online.

                                          Average score: 20 out of 55 = 36%
                                          High flyers: lookfantastic.com, Amazon.co.uk, hmv.com


 i Amazon.co.uk’s shopping                                                         i
basket is jam packed with
both cross-sell and up-sell
suggestions. Customers prone
to making impulse purchases
may find one of these
suggestions hard to resist!

 ii Amazon.co.uk include
‘recommendations for your next
visit’ in their email confirmation
following an order – never
missing the opportunity to
encourage customers to make
more purchases.

                                           ii




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance    Page 33
                                                                                                                       Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 6                                 Checkout and Transaction Funnel

 iii hmv.com use their shopping
                                           iii
basket to promote their
‘purehmv’ rewards scheme and
other special offers.




                                          We awarded retailers marks for recommending products during the checkout process, on the
                                          confirmation/thank you page and in the auto-responder correspondence, as well as awarding
                                          points for loyalty schemes.

                                          We were shocked to find that seven retailers did not take advantage of any of these up-sell and
                                          cross-sell opportunities and only 5 of the 20 ecommerce sites surveyed used 2 or more of the
                                          touch points described to encourage customers to spend more.

                                          The shining beacon of up-sell was Amazon.co.uk who smartly missed no opportunity to offer
                                          website users further ideas and opportunities to spend their money on.

Top tips                                  We did find 45% of retailers publicising a customer loyalty scheme. Whilst these schemes can
                                          be complex to administer and can come with as many pros as with cons, retailers not using
                                          them may be missing an opportunity to increase brand affinity and online spend.
            effective product
 The most effec  ctive
 recommendation system at
 recommendat
 checkout is rerelated cross-             Best practice guidelines
 sells. So, if a customer is
 buying a TV, the checkout                       Include product suggestions, related products or ‘customers who bought this also
 page will recommend related                     bought...’ suggestions on product pages, in the shopping basket, on the confirmation/
 products with an offer such as
                                                 thank you page and in the auto-response confirmation email
 a stand, cables, dvd player etc
 - items that a customer might                   Link the product suggestions to the relevant product pages to enable easy purchase
 also want to purchase with
 the main item.                                  Don’t try and build recommendation technology yourself unless you have very capable
                                                 developers - most ecommerce sites oursource this to third parties




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 34
                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 7                                 After Sale

                                          Once an online sale has been successfully completed there are some key steps that retailers
                                          can take to make sure the customer feels both confident about their decision to purchase, and
                                          valued as a customer.

                                          Staying in touch throughout the fulfilment process is important, so the customer knows when
                                          to expect delivery and is alerted if any delays occur. Once the item is delivered, it’s time to
                                          start consolidating and nurturing the customer relationship by using carefully targeted email
                                          marketing messages.

                                          7.1 Email confirmation
                                          Making sure customers receive a detailed email confirmation immediately after an online
                                          purchase is a very important step. The email should state clearly the details of the transaction
                                          – the products bought, price paid and the method of payment used.

                                          It is also important to set out the delivery details and set expectations in terms of delivery times.
                                          This will help reassure the customer and can pre-empt calls into your customer services team.

                                          It’s also a good idea to include details about how the customer can get further information or
                                          help if they have any post-transaction queries or questions.

                                          The next step is to send an email to the customer to let them know when the item has been
                                          despatched. Again, it’s important to set expectations and let them know when the product
                                          will arrive.

                                          Average score: 29 out of 35 = 82%
                                          High flyers: Tesco, John Lewis, Currys, Dixons
                                          Every one of the retailers we looked at sent an order confirmation email following the sale.
                                          Most also managed to send a confirmation of despatch, with only 25% failing to follow this
                                          latter step.

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                               Keep emails short and to the point whilst including all the relevant details that
                                               customers need
                                               Always include customer service details in the email in case your shopper wants to get
                                               in touch
                                               Make sure that delivery estimates are as accurate as possible
                                               Include returns information to increase customer confidence




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance        Page 35
                                                                                                                             Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 7                                 After Sale

 i The email from Dixons is              i
simple but includes all the                  To: samplename@sample.co.uk
                                             Subject: DIXONS Order: D002350447 at 13/05/2009 14:32:04
necessary information.                       Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 14:41:48 +0100
                                             From: DIXONSWEBSALES@DIXONS.CO.UK
ii The products ordered,
price paid, payment method
and delivery address are all                 Dear Mr Bloggs,
                                                                                                  ii
specified.                                                                             re     det
                                             Thank you for shopping with Dixons. Here are the details of the product/s
                                             you have ordered:
 iii The email includes a link to
information about cancellation               Quantity Code Description
rights and returns policies.                 1 037349 MATSUI MKE1151W* KETTLE
                                             1 177581 DELIVERY SERVICE S MALL


                                             Total price: £5.99

                                             Dixons order number: D000000001
                                             Order placed on: 13/05/2009 14:32:04
                                             Payment method: Credit/Debit Card

                                             Subject to availability, the order will be delivered to

                                             Sample Name
                                             Sample Address
                                             Sample Town
                                             Sample City
                                             Postcode

                                             Payment will be taken from your debit or credit card as described in our
                                             terms and conditions The terms and conditions can be found on
                                             http://www.dixons.co.uk under ‘Terms and Conditions’.

                                             Please note that all orders are subject to stock availability. We will
                                             email you again regarding the status of your order.


                                             Thank you for placing your order with Dixons Web Sales.


                                             Note: There is no need to worry if you cannot see all the products you
                                             ordered in the list above - they will be included in a separate mail. We
                                             sometimes offer our customers the ability to place advanced orders for
                                             items that have not yet been launched by the manufacturer (we would have
                                             quoted a ‘release date’ for these products). If you have placed an order
                                             containing immediately available products and advanced order products, we
                                             will usually split your order into two separate orders. You would
                                             therefore receive separate emails covering the immediately available
                                             products and another covering the remaining advanced order products.
                                             Payment for advanced order items will be taken on dispatch of the goods.
                                             No additional delivery charges would be incurred in these circumstances.

                                             How does your broadband supplier compare? Compare prices and start saving
                                             money now by visiting:

                                             http://www.comparemoreatdixons.co.uk/index.aspx?ReffererRef=Dixons.co.uk_fulfilemail_Bband



Top tips
                                             For your convenience, we have attached a PDF containing important
 Keeping custo
           customers updated
                omer                         information about your cancellation rights, our returns policy and Dixons                    iii
                                             Aftersales service.
 with the progress of their
           progr
 order is vital. Send updates
          vital S                            Click the following link to download Adobe PDF Reader to open this
 post-sale and post-despatch                 document.[http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html]
 to ensure customers know
 exactly when their item is
 due to arrive.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance   Page 36
                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 7                                 After Sale

                                          7.2 Online order tracking
                                          Online order tracking is a great way of inspiring customer confidence by letting customers
                                          track for themselves exactly how their order is progressing. Rather than contacting a customer
                                          service representative, customers can check their order status themselves, saving a retail
                                          business valuable time and resource.

                                          Order tracking functionality should be connected to the order processing system so that
                                          customers can track the order from payment completion and allocation, through to packing
                                          and shipping.

                                          Average score: 23 out of 25 = 92%
                                          Poor performers: Argos and Avon

 i John Lewis provides an
                                            i
obvious link to ‘Your orders’
at the top of the page and
detailed order tracking .




Top tips
  ntegrate      r back-end
 Integrate your bac
       processes
 sales processe with your
 ecommerce pl  platform to make
                                          Best practice guidelines
 it easy to give customers
 up-to-date information about                   Provide clear login options for customers to ensure they can access up-to-date order
 their order without the need                   tracking information from anywhere on the site
 for manual updating.
                                                Include an estimated despatch date so that visitors know when to expect their purchase




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 37
                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 7                                 After Sale

                                          7.3 Post-sale email marketing activity
                                          Succeeding in converting a website visitor into a purchaser is just the first step on a long road
                                          of building and developing your customer relations. The goals from here on are likely to
                                          be 4-fold:

                                               Increase income per customer
                                               Build online brand affinity
                                               Drive traffic
                                               Build your customer base through referral

                                          To achieve these goals, a regular and compelling dialogue needs to be established between
                                          retailer and customer. In particular for online purchasers there is no better channel for building
                                          this dialogue than email. To keep the relationship warm following our online purchases, we
                                          looked for follow-up email messages within 10 days of the order date. This is the window of
                                          opportunity when the relationship is still warm. Don’t leave it any longer.

                                          Average score: 5 out of 30 = 17%
                                          High flyers: Tesco

 i In Tesco’s follow-up email
the offers are all timely and the
free delivery call to action is a
good additional incentive.

 ii The email is personalised
which helps build trust with
the recipient.




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 38
                                                                                                                          Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
Section 7                                 After Sale

                                          With an average score of 17%, this proved to be the lowest scoring section of the report.
                                          The shock news of this report is that only 40% of the retailers surveyed sent a follow-up
                                          email marketing message to (or was received by) our mystery online shoppers within 10 days
                                          of the online purchase. Of those that did send a marketing email, only one – Tesco – sent a
                                          personalised email.

                                          Retaining and up-selling existing customers costs less than acquiring new ones. An ongoing
                                          customer relationship building strategy is essential for all the retailers we surveyed. Too many
                                          of these leading retailers are neglecting the email channel – despite its clear advantages:

                                               Cost – email campaigns are low cost to build and send compared to print and other
                                               traditional channels
                                               ROI – expect email to deliver considerably higher ROI than offline marketing channels
                                               Trackability – email responses can be tracked in detail and right down to contact level, for
                                               pin-point targeting
                                               1-2-1 messaging – email can be tightly customised and personalised for maximum
                                               relevance to the recipient, and maximum response

                                          Best practice guidelines

                                               Personalise follow-up email content based on key data you have collected on
                                               your new customers
                                               Use follow-up emails to collect further data on your customers – with mini online surveys
                                               and competitions
                                               Harness your email’s viral potential by including a ‘forward to friend’ link
                                               Include added value content with links back to your site to drive traffic and engage
                                               the recipient
Top tips
                                               Encourage user generated content, e.g. invite recipient to upload diary dates, gallery
 O li
 Online surveys can be a great                 images, forum comments
 way to follow-up an online
        follow-u                               Track email opens and click-throughs at contact level and follow-up key groups with
 purchase and get feedback on                  targeted messages, integrated with both online and offline channels
 how the process is working as
 well as for data capture and
 enrichment purposes.                     For detailed, practical advice and guidance on email marketing best practice, see
                                          dotMailer’s report: Hitting the Mark – An annual benchmark study of retail email
                                          marketing performance (www.dotMailer.co.uk/hittingthemark).




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance       Page 39
                                                                                                                              Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
                                          Conclusion

                                          2009-2010 will see continuingly challenging times for retailers. The good news is that whilst
                                          sales on the High Street may continue to falter, online retail spending is enjoying sustained
                                          and healthy growth. Recent forecasts* show that UK online retail sales are set to grow by up to
                                          137% or £12.3nb, by the end of 2011.

                                          As retailers and all marketers increase their investment in online and email channels it is
                                          essential they maximise their opportunity to deliver ROI. However, our study shows that even
                                          in light of the current economic climate, the country’s major name retailers are not proactively
                                          exploiting all the opportunities available to them through ecommerce and email marketing.

                                          To many of the retailers are not following best practices – with the risk of impacting web
                                          traffic, conversions and revenue. But small changes can make a big difference.

                                          One of the great strengths of online selling is the ability to test changes and variations and
                                          accurately measure what works best. This is the way to ensure the homepage of an ecommerce
                                          site has the lowest bounce rate; that navigation and product pages have the lowest exit rates;
                                          and that transaction funnels have the lowest abandonment rates.

                                          Retailers should take these minimum steps to ensure their ecommerce sites are performing to
                                          their potential:

                                               Focus on delivering added value content and user generated content to help build
                                               an engaged community of loyal returning visitors to the site. Web 2.0 offers boundless
                                               opportunities for retailers to enrich their customer’s online shopping experience and
                                               in turn drive conversion rates and revenue
                                               Make greater use of simple sales promotion techniques and fully exploit all available
                                               opportunities to cross-sell or up-sell online visitors
                                               Get the follow-up right. Retailers need to ensure they effectively build their customer
                                               relationship after they’ve left the site, using timely, targeted and personalised email
                                               programmes

                                          It is the retailers who make use of web 2.0 and personalised content to build a customer
                                          community, offer flexible delivery options and the ability to shop with ease and confidence,
                                          and who nurture their customer relationship with targeted email marketing, who will win the
                                          battle for the online customer.




* Experian/Paypal UK Online Retail
Report 2009




Hitting the Checkout 2009/10 - The dotCommerce benchmark study of ecommerce site performance      Page 40
                                                                                                                           Part of the dotDigital Group PLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Appendix




                                                Maximum possible score
                                                                         Average score
                                                                                         Argos
                                                                                                 Tesco
                                                                                                         Marks and Spencer
                                                                                                                             Asda
                                                                                                                                    John Lewis
                                                                                                                                                 hmv.com
                                                                                                                                                           Play.com
                                                                                                                                                                      LoveFilm.com
                                                                                                                                                                                     Game
                                                                                                                                                                                            Amazon.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Boots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   lookfantastic.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Vie at home
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The Fragrance Shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Avon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Comet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Currys
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maplin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           PC World
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dixons


1.1 Editorial content                             25                      12             0       10        25                0       25          10        0           25            10      10            15       15                  25             15                 10     0       15       25       0          0
1.2 Important information easily accessible       60                      46             60      50        60                50      60          40        15          25            45      60            60       25                  60             60                 35     45      60       45       35         35
1.3 User generated content                        40                      19             20      20       20                 20      0           20        25          35            20      25            20       25                  30             20                 0      20      20       0        20         15
1.4 Customer service & contact information        25                      13             15      10        15                10      15          15        5           15            5       10            15       15                  15             15                 15     20      10       15       15         15
2.1 Homepage layout                               30                      27             30      30        30                30      30          0         30          30            30      0             30       30                  30             30                 30     30      30       30       30         30
2.2 Page design consistency                       50                      46             35      15        50                50      50          50        50          50            50      50            50       50                  15             50                 50     50      50       50       50         50
2.3 Tone and presentation                         35                      25             23      12        35                35      35          23        23          35            35      12            35       35                  12             12                 23     23      12       35       23         23
2.4 Design and brand experience                   35                      27             35      12       35                 35      35          35        35          35            35      23            35       35                  12            12                  12     23      23       23       35         12
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Full scores




3.1 Search functionality                          60                      50             60      45       60                 60      45          60        45          45            45      60            60       60                  20             20                 20     60      60       45       60         60
3.1.1 Additional search functions                 65                      41             40      35       60                 50      50          60        25          40            35      50            40       45                  35            35                  25     60      35       35       35         35
4.1 Page weight                                   20                      12             20      20       0                  20      20          0         20          20            0       20            20       0                   20             0                  20     0       20       0        20         0
4.2 Product images                                65                      43             35      55        55                55      55          25        55          55            20      55            35       25                  35             25                 35     35      35       55       55         55
4.3 Merchandising detail                          70                      41             70      40       62                 34      48          38        57          48            56      48            48       38                  33            20                  18     20      10       44       48         43
5.1 Search engine description                     25                      20             25      25        15                25      25          15        25          25            15      15            15       15                  25             15                 15     25      25       25       15         15
5.2 Sales promotion mechanisms                    90                      50             58      43       68                 31      62          66        16          31            57      62            78       68                  53            44                  72     56      36       18       48         36
5.3 Data capture                                  30                      18             20      10       20                 0       20          30        0           10            0       10            0        20                  30            20                  30     30      30       20       30         30
5.4 Social networking and viral marketing         15                      5              15      0        5                  5       5           5         5           0             0       0             5        10                  10            5                   0      5       0        15       0          0
6.1 Integrated payment                            25                      23             25      25       25                 25      25          25        25          25            25      25            25       25                  25            25                  0      25      0        25       25         25
6.2 Delivery options                              50                      31             0       20       35                 0       50          50        30          15            50      35            20       15                  20            35                  20     35      50       50       50         35
6.3 Data security and permission                  15                      5              0       0        0                  0       0           0         0           0             15      0             0        0                   0             0                   15     15      15       0        15         15
6.4 Option to store payment details               10                      4              0       10        0                 10      0           0         10          0             10      0             0        0                   0             0                   0      10      0        0        10         10
6.5 Product recommendation and loyalty scheme     55                      20             10      35       15                 25      0           40        40          0             35      45            10       40                  0             0                   25     25      0        0        10         40
7.1 Email confirmation                             35                      29             10      35       35                 10      35          35        35          35            35      35            35       10                  35             35                 35     10      35       35       10         35
7.2 Online order tracking                         25                      23             0       25       25                 25      25          25        25          25            25      25            25       25                  25            25                  0      25      25       25       25         25
7.3 Post-sale emarketing activity                 30                      5              0       30        10                0       10          0         10          10            10      0             0        0                   10            0                   0      10      0        0        0          0


Final Score                                       985                     631            606     611      760                605     725         667       606         634           663     675           676      626                 574           517                 505    658     596      615      664        639
Percentage                                        100                     68             65      66       82                 65      78          72        65          68            71      73            73       67                  62             56                 54     71      64       66       71         69
                                          About dotCommerce

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                                               Future-proof, flexible and extensible features and functionality
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                                          Send us an email: info@dotCommerce.co.uk

                                          Visit us online: www.dotCommerce.co.uk




dotDigital Group PLC
No. 1 Croydon
12-16 Addiscombe Road
East Croydon. CRO OXT

www.dotdigitalgroup.com



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                                                                                                                         Part of the dotDigital Group PLC

				
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