Back with another edition of E-commerce Discovery series (YAY to that!). This time, we have Marks & Spencer going under the lens. Marks & Spencer is one of the oldest and most popular big box fashion retailers in the UK. The have branched out into so many categories, that it is interesting to see how they perform similarly online. They have one hefty e-commerce website and here’s our take on it.
1. Homepage UI
They stick to the standard white background and everything else is neatly organized in those 1300 X 1300 pixels. Like many other e-commerce websites, they have a sliding image gallery to show what’s latest and direct their customers to interesting pages on their website. The photographs are not very elaborate but as a retailer, I think, they align with their brand image. Interestingly, they try to do accomplish many calls-to-action with each photograph, so people don’t have to wait for a sliding image that serves their purpose. (Shop Girls and Shop Boys buttons appear on one image itself). The Menu is quite a heavy one; every nitty-gritty of the store is categorized and classified and all one has to do is click on something. How else could one organize such a huge inventory anyway? To add some point of interest to their website, they throw in their latest blog posts and Editors picks to the mix!.
VERDICT: YAY– I can’t really say their Homepage is over the top, but they are playing it safe. Nothing out of the ordinary but yet they keep it simple and inviting enough. Users will not get lost here. So use their trick if you have large inventory.
2. Navigation Through Product Listing
Like every other e-commerce website (yeah, it’s better to play safe!) they have a standard product listing page. filters on the left side, 2:3 ratio product listings with ratings and another very interesting feature- they give the user an option to choose how many products they want to see on a single screen. (Compare against the option of non-continous scrolling which and hundreds of page numbers to keep clicking on next). They also give the user the option of seeing photos on the model or just product image. This, I must say, is taking customer personalization to another level.
VERDICT: YAY– Though remainder of the Product Listing Page has nothing to offer, this feature comes as a fresh change in UI. Though it may not be of much use to customers who don’t see it or those who would be better off ignoring it, it definitely leaves a mark saying that Marks & Spencer cares about theconvenience of the User. What can you do on your website to make it convenient for users?
3. Community management
Marks & Spencer does a great job trying to build a community. They have M&S TV, they have a great Lifestyle blog which attracts droves of people to follow it and sign up for their newsletter and (Secret Revealed, blow the trumpets!) an exclusive website to create style boards with their products.
VERDICT : NAY – Surprised? Even with all that effort going into building a community, especially through a dedicated website which is like a mini-Polyvore, nowhere on their official e-commerce website do I see a link to it. I don’t know how they advertise the Style Board Creator, but the fact that they have many people active on it and make no attempt to advertise it on their main web-store to attract more fashionistas, leaves me bewildered. Remember, building a community is important for your Fashion store, and you need to let your customers know about it. If you don’t have a Facebook community, then think of starting a blog.
Overall, Marks & Spencer has a decent and functional website with every feature included neatly to improve the end user experience. And yet, we see that there’s always room to improve.
Let us know your thoughts on this website.
E-Commerce Yay or Nay Discovery Series is a series of posts where GLAMAFONE discovers one-off e-commerce websites and analyses interesting features as well as mistakes, which will help people like you be more prepared when designing your own e-commerce store. Contact us if you would like a bespoke website design done for you or visit: www.glamafone.com for more.