No less than four out of the top 10 best-performing sites in the table reached their elevated positions after recording double-digit rises since last month. Net-a-Porter has moved up 23 places, Waitrose up 10, La Senza has climbed 28 places and Thorntons has moved up 22 positions.
The list of sites tested has been created jointly by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company Sitemorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer’s site to generate a ranked table.
Lawrence Shaw, founder of Sitemorse, says: “Now is the time to make the biggest improvements to get ready for Christmas. If retailers intend to make changes pre-Christmas then they have to be done now. This is also the time to ensure they have the basics of their websites right.”
What is needed is some consistency with retailers’ websites as Shaw points out that the likes of Net-a-Porter, Thorntons, Carphone Warehouse have yo-yoed up and down the table during the course of the year. For the first two of these the problem has been their functionality – with inconsistency over broken links and missing images. They have both also suffered from a poor record on accessibility.
Accusations of inconsistency cannot be levelled at the bottom 10 retailers who have largely stayed in exactly the same positions as last month with very poor scores. Shaw says Sitemorse has talked with many of the lesser performing retailers and he believes there is too much of a focus on adding new “flashy” functionality rather than addressing some of the basic issues that adversely affect the performance of their websites.
“Many seem to just want to move onto the next big flashy projects. It’s discouraging that so many online teams have a continual wish to do new stuff rather than work on the basics like ensuring descriptions and titles are on all their web pages,” he says.
In contrast, Shaw says the retailers that continue to climb the table are those who are not distracted by wanting to add the latest “new, whizzy” functionality and features. And good performance is not limited to a certain set of retailers as shown by the great variety of operators in this month’s top 10.
“There is an intriguing mix of websites, which demonstrates that everybody can do well – regardless of whether they are transactional or not, big ticket or small, and large or small-sized businesses. There is no excuse for any retailer not to be at the top-end of the table,” suggests Shaw.
Topping the table is furniture retailer DFS that reclaimed the prime spot this month from Tesco Direct with an impressive 9.7 out of 10 that easily beat its score of 7.46 last month as it addressed the issues of broken links and accessibility.
In third place is Toys R US, which has made dramatic progress over the course of the year as it has improved its scores on all the criteria measured by Sitemorse. At the start of the year it was firmly in the bottom quartile but with various rises including a jump of 27 places in July and one this month it is now well placed among the top performers with a score of 7.18.
To see the rankings click here