Every year Which? sends out a survey to over 10,000 of their members. From this, they rank the best and worst online shops based on customer experience (CX). This data has indicated that Liz Earle provides the strongest customer experience with a 94% satisfaction score, with Homebase at the other end of the scale with 55%.
One important factor for a great CX is the customer journey. Starting with how easy it is for customers to search and navigate products, and find what they want – which is usually primarily a Product Information Management (PIM) feature.
We are living in an age where customers want everything done faster and more easily than before. A good PIM system can be the make or break of an online shop by helping provide the foundations to make the customer journey a smooth and painless experience.
By putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, we compared Liz Earle’s and Homebase’s search and navigation journey for their customers. Let’s say you want to find and buy a new hand cream from Liz Earle and a standing makeup mirror from Homebase. These Items were chosen at random from each site by an unbiased source, before our test.
As soon as you type ‘hand cream’ into the search bar, simple to read suggestions pop up with suggested products that closely match the search term. When clicked on, they take you to direct to the product. This is great for when the customers aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for. Often customers may misspell words when looking for a product. When I type in ‘hand cream’, the same suggestions do not appear, but different, relevant suggestions are still used. For their navigation, I hover over the ‘Browse Products’ section in the middle of the page. I can see straight away that hand cream would be in ‘Hand & Body’ list under the Skincare category. However, to find exactly what I want, I would have to scroll down the entire page to reach it. There is no navigation to the specific section I want.
The search bar is easy to find and in plain sight. However, when typing in ‘Standing makeup mirror’ no suggestions appear at all, not even when you press enter. Shortening the term down, I used ‘standing mirror’. Nothing. Shortening even further I used ‘mirror’, this time suggestions do appear, but not relevant to what I want. When I misspell the word to ‘mirror’, once again nothing appears.
Straight away you can tell this is not a fast and quick method for the customer, having had to adjust their search term twice. This makes products hard to find and results in a negative CX. Going through their navigation system, I hover over ‘Bathrooms & Plumbing’. I can find Mirrors in the list under the Bathroom Accessories & Décor easily. As soon as I click on it, I can see what I want. There are then excellent filters along the side that help narrow down my search.
However, the actual product title, ‘freestanding mirror’ contains our original search phrase ‘standing’. The question that you would have to pose on this, is if they use the term ‘standing’ within the product, then why didn’t it show up in the search? This is a clear flaw in current their PIM system and perhaps a reason for their low CX score.
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