Holiday Shopping Contenders Take the Ring: Website Usability Showdown Tests Retailers' Readiness for Cyber Monday

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Digital branding agency 4ORCE is reminding retailers that if online shoppers can't find it, they can't buy it. 4ORCE Digital pits two big holiday shopping destinations against each other to test their readiness for Cyber Monday.

The focus of our study was to discover what about a site’s design is a turn-off for online shoppers, versus what helps them find what they are looking for and make the sale.

The countdown is on for Cyber Monday! Digital branding agency 4ORCE is reminding retailers that if online shoppers can’t find it, they can’t buy it. 4ORCE Digital recently conducted the third in a series of website usability studies, this one pitting two big holiday shopping destinations against each other to test their readiness for the onslaught of Cyber Monday shoppers.

“The focus of our study was to discover what about a site’s design is a turn-off for online shoppers, versus what helps them find what they are looking for and make the sale,” said 4ORCE UX Director Danielle Cooley.

4ORCE invited four participants, age 24 – 40 (3 male, 1 male), to complete three tasks each on PotteryBarn.com and CrateandBarrel.com. 4ORCE asked these test shoppers to find the least expensive holiday decoration offered, sign up to receive promotions and announcements and buy a $100 gift card.

“Crate & Barrel won hands down; they seem prepared to support their users’ shopping behavior,” Cooley continued. “Crateandbarrel.com supported shopping by price, and is organized and laid out to make browsing easier.”

Other than making sure your servers can handle the traffic, Cooley has these tips for retailers shoring up their sites for the online holiday shopping season.

  •     Design to support users’ actual shopping behavior. Anticipate their needs – for example, most shoppers are price sensitive, so allow them to shop by price. When they add something to their shopping cart, offer “continue shopping” as an option to encourage further sales.
  •     Remove roadblocks and distractions. Pottery Barn’s drop-down menus are so obtrusive they are distracting for the shopper. Unusually small or low contrast text is another common roadblock.
  •     Remember that gift cards represent a large percentage of sales. They should be easy to find, customize and buy.

And of course, a shopper’s website experience definitely reflects on the brand. “The Crate and Barrel website was better than I expected, it looks nicely designed,” one participant noted. “Someone put some serious effort into this. That makes me think better of Crate and Barrel than I would have before.”

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Julia Bishop-Cross
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