How Marks & Spencer’s new website LOST them business

Nige

Nige
Writes on 11th July 2014

This week Marks & Spencer announced an 8.1% fall in online sales. The main reason – their new website... We look at what went wrong and how you can avoid making these same costly mistakes.

This week Marks & Spencer announced a very scary 8.1% fall in online sales in the last quarter. The main reason – their new website….

It’s often realistic to expect a small initial fall in sales when you have a major revamp of your website. Its official – People don’t like “change”! Every time Facebook makes even the smallest change there’s rioting in the streets, angry emoticons and glum looking selfies everywhere. But after a couple of weeks you really wonder what all the fuss was about.

However, M&S did make some BIG mistakes that you need to avoid….

Maybe Take Baby Steps

Yes, a “Big Bang” launch can have that “wow-factor” and gives your Marketing team something to drool about, but sometimes a more cautious and phased approach is desirable.

Introduce new designs and features gradually. Don’t scare your customer with a completely different website overnight. Bring them along on the journey with you and invite their feedback at every stage. If something’s not working you can change it (or drop it) earlier with far less cost and impact on sales.

Style over Substance and the 3-click Rule

I know it’s tempting to cram as much sexy video content as you can get on the page, but STOP! Think about the overall customer experience and the key reason they are there – to BUY. Sometimes “less is more”.

If it takes more than 3 clicks for the customer to find what they’re looking for you there’s a very good chance you’re going to lose that sale.

Know your customer

Don’t just emulate another site you think looks good – create a site that works for YOUR customer (2/3 of M&S’s Womenswear sales are from over 55’s).

Talk to your existing customers. Set up user groups. Find out what they like and don’t like.

Don’t forget the “back end”

M&S made it even harder for their existing customers by forcing them all to re-register. Entering your details once can be a pain, making a customer do it all over again is unforgivable.

If you’re going to amend your database as well as the website front-end you really must make sure you have a data migration plan in place.

“Guide” rather than Sell

One criticism of M&S’s new website is that there was way too much content trying to sell. The visitor was bombarded with sales videos and imagery.

By all means promote your most popular items or current promotions, but it’s often better to “guide” the customer with a simple and intuitive navigation system.

Don’t tell them what they want – help them find what they want.

Don’t lose your Search Engine rankings

If the navigation of your website and page names have changed, don’t forget to set up 301 Redirects to ensure anyone linking to an old URL is redirected seamlessly to the new page.

If you don’t do this, all those products you’ve spent years getting indexed by Google will be useless.

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