Like the Merchandisers group in general, the primary objective of Specialty Retailer sites is clear: They must effectively market products, encourage visitors to add items to their cart, and entice them to make a purchase. This means that these sites must provide clear and effective marketing content combined with prominent calls to action that lead to convenient eCommerce features.

To assess how well prominent sites in this industry achieve these objectives, the siteIQ team conducts Usability Index evaluations using the Specialty Retailer version of the siteIQ Best Practices Usability benchmark. This benchmark includes 228 questions across four major categories and eleven distinct sub-categories.

These questions measure the overall practicality, versatility, and convenience of any given website. A second review recategorizes the 228 questions into 16 unique Usability Dimensions that illustrate how sufficiently each website allows users to achieve everyday tasks, objectives, and goals.

The results of these evaluations allow the team to rank and rate each site based on category — and sub-category scores — and to determine the winner overall. This case study announces key findings for the Specialty Retailer industry segment based on Website Usability and Website Usability by Dimension scores.

The websites evaluated in this segment include:,,,,,,,,,,,, and

Industry Findings 

If Commercial Bank websites all look like they copied off each other’s paper, then Specialty Retailer sites look like someone handed out photocopies of the same page. In fact, there are so many instances where sites in this segment achieve tie scores that it’s hard to keep track.

This quickly becomes evident when considering Rankings by Sub-Category, where tie scores create a traffic jam in the rankings across every sub-category except Design Basics. What’s more, ten or more sites rank among the Top 5 in four (out of eleven) sub-categories — and all thirteen sites earn a Top 5 ranking in three more.

Thus, it’s not surprising that almost all the Specialty Retailer sites register Overall Usability scores so close that the margin separating them fluctuates by less than 1% and that they receive the same Competitive Rating, which is Average.

Unfortunately, the cornucopia of Average Competitive Ratings signals that these sites aren’t performing at optimal levels — and that they don’t include any trend-setting features that create new conventions or competitive requirements. Rather these sites are merely adequate for visitors — which means photocopying that particular page probably wasn’t prudent.

Fortunately, a review of scores and rankings by Dimension reveals that one site does show promise when usability is measured based on user goals and objectives. In particular, earns a unique first-place ranking in eight different dimensions, which, combined with shared first-place rankings in four additional areas, make a site to watch — and emulate.

So, there is some inspiration close at hand for Specialty Retailers who want to make their sites more usable and practical for visitors. Those seeking additional encouragement, however, will probably want to look outside the Specialty Retailers segment. Our suggestion is to look at some of the sectors in Tech.

Specifically, sites in the IT Consumer sector do well in corporate branding, and is the hands-down eCommerce leader. Meanwhile, Software sites are known for their consistency, effective product marketing, and compelling calls to action. And, surprisingly enough, Networking sites score well in innovation.

If nothing else, looking at a page from another player’s book may provide just the inspiration necessary to create the catalyst for change across sites in the Specialty Retailer industry.

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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 (,,,,,,,,,,,,
  • General Merchandisers (,,,,,,
  • Apparel (,,,,,,
  • Internet Retailing (,,,,,

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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