The primary objective of retail sites is clear: to effectively market and sell the parent company’s products by encouraging visitors to add items to their cart and enticing them to make a purchase. This means that these sites must provide top-notch product marketing content combined with prominent calls to action that lead to uncomplicated ecommerce features. In the end, the selection and purchasing processes should be fall-off-a-horse easy for customers to buy.

To assess how well prominent Merchandisers sites market and sell to visitors, the siteIQ team evaluated a total of 32 sites across four industry segments, including Specialty Retailers, General Retailers, Apparel Retailers, and Internet Retailers, using the siteIQ Usability benchmark.

This benchmark includes 228 questions across four categories and 11 sub-categories, that measure the overall practicality, versatility, and convenience of any given website from the visitor’s point of view.

A second review recategorizes the 228 questions into 16 Usability Dimensions that illustrate how adequately each website allows users to achieve common tasks, objectives, and goals. The results of these evaluations enable the team to rank and rate each site — and determine a winner overall.

This summary announces key findings for the Merchandisers industry based on Website Usability and Website Usability by Dimension scores.

Overall Findings 

Before conducting our inaugural Merchandiser industry evaluations, the team had a lot of preconceived notions about the final results. We all felt that Internet Retailers would perform well since online selling is their forte, most of us thought that usability scores would be high because online selling is fairly straightforward. We also unanimously agreed that the Grand Poobah of Internet Retailing — Amazon.com — would be the hands-down winner within the Merchandisers sector.

So, it would be an understatement to say we were surprised when we realized that the results of those evaluations are loaded with findings that blow all our preconceived notions out of the water.

In fact, none of the team ever would have expected that Specialty Retailers — not Internet Retailers — dominate the Top 10 ranking positions on the Overall Website Usability roster. Nor would they anticipate that Merchandiser sites most often register scores that rate as Average or below. Most significant, the team would never have predicted that HomeDepot.com — not Amazon.com — is the overall winner within the Merchandisers sector.

And these aren’t the only surprising revelations to be had. It’s also interesting to discover that less than stellar scores mean that Merchandiser sites earn very few Good Practice ratings and that tie scores create a traffic jam in the rankings across every benchmark sub-category — and nearly every usability dimension.

On the other hand, the results of our evaluations do include some more predictable findings. In particular, Navigation & Architecture scores suggest that Merchandiser sites are easy to maneuver, which means users will find it easy to locate items for purchase. Likewise, they show that Call to Action and eCommerce Features & Facilities are strong suits for the majority of the group, which perfectly coincides with the tenet of Merchandiser websites.

Still, an abundance of Average Competitive Ratings signals that Merchandiser sites aren’t performing at optimal levels. What’s more, General Merchandiser and Apparel Retailer sites are frequently missing Press, Corporate, Channel & Alliance / Partner Marketing, and Investor Relations content, which puts them at a further disadvantage in those areas.

That said, a close look at evaluation data reveals that there are ten sub-categories and fourteen usability dimensions where at least one — and up to twenty-nine of the thirty-two tracked sites — miss the Good Practice target by less than 1.5%. So, even minor improvements in these areas would make many Merchandiser websites much more effective and usable for visitors.

In the meantime, Merchandiser sites may make it easy to find and purchase products but are merely adequate for visitors in all other respects.

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About the siteIQ Usability Index

siteIQ evaluated the 32 Merchansider Websites listed on the 2020 siteIQ Usability Index. These Websites are categorized into four industry-specific segments including:

  • Specialty Retailers (AutoZone.com, BedBathandBeyond.com, BestBuy.com, DicksSportingGoods.com, DollarTree.com, GameStop.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, OfficeDepot.com, OReillyAuto.com, Shop.AdvanceAutoParts.com, TractorSupply.com, Ulta.com)
  • General Merchandisers (Costco.com, Dillards.com, JCPenney.com, Kohls.com, Sears.com, Target.com, Walmart.com)
  • Apparel (Burlington.com, FootLocker.com, Gap.com, Macys.com, RossStores.com, Shop.Nordstrom.com, TJMaxx.TJX.com)
  • Internet Retailing (Amazon.com, eBay.com, Etsy.com, Overstock.com, Poshmark.com, Shopping.Google.com)

These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2020 edition of the siteIQ Usability Index Best Practices Benchmark, which tracks results in 11 sub-categories and 16 Usability Dimensions.

The 2020 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2020.

Category: Index Rankings

Class: Website Reviews and Rankings

Websites Profiled: siteIQ Usability Index Websites – Finance Industry

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