Department store websites lag fashion retail rivals

News of UK retailers cutting their store estates have dominated the headlines in the lasts weeks, but new research has warned that if department stores don’t improve their websites, their efforts to survive will be in vain.


Fenwick is launching a new e-commerce site this year - Fenwick.co.uk

Indeed, a report from home delivery company ParcelHero has warned that some department stores in the UK are not keeping up with the e-commerce revolution. Whilst some British department store chains like M&S and John Lewis have done more to compete with online retailers, other brands showed a number of alarming issues, like redirecting to a ‘white label’ site or charging for delivery on orders over £50.

Luxury chain Fenwick scored last (2/10) on a ranking of department store’s websites based on their range, ease of use and delivery options. The national chain, which has ten stores, was found to have an attractive website design, however its non-transactional nature played against it. The retailer is planning to launch a full-ecommerce platform later this year.

Days scored 5/10 as it doesn’t have its own website yet, and Beales scored 6/10 due to a lack of delivery options, such as click & collect and faster standard delivery. Harvey Nichols also received just 6/10, despite having a user-friendly clean design, because of its high delivery charges (no free standard deliveries on orders over £50, and £10 for next day delivery).

Whilst Debenhams and House of Fraser’s sites were both described as good, receiving a 7/10 score, both retailers lost points due to the use of ‘white label’ sites. “In 2018 it should be as smooth to order a sofa as a shirt from a department store web site – with no noticeable transitions. Redirecting to a “White Label” site for white goods or furniture is a major drawback,” said ParcelHero head of consumer research, David Jinks.

Finally, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis took the top spots, scoring 10/10 and 9/10 respectively. “M&S was the only store to score all the points available. It’s an easy to use site and its delivery options are well-priced.  John Lewis offered a wider range of delivery choice functionality; but charging for in-store click & collect orders up to £30 negates the value of having brick and mortar stores, and so it fell a point short,” said Jinks.

“At the other end of the table, Fenwick can’t be too soon in introducing a website consumers can actually buy items on! Beales need to look at their click & collect offering and functionality a little more, and Harvey Nicks need to think again about being the only major department store not to offer free deliveries at all on most items!”

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