March Website Rankings of 100 UK Retailers

The top five retailers all maintained their positions in the same order at the top of the table of the 100 retail websites tested this month with Tesco's direct catalogue site still holding on to the top spot ahead of Vision Express, Clinton Cards, Habitat and Next.

The comprehensive list of 100 sites, which includes not only the largest players but also some of the smaller specialist online merchants, has been created 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: "I suspect it is a sign that there have not been many changes made to these sites over the past month but even if they have made updates to them then it shows that somebody is at least testing them before the changes happen. It is good news that there is some consistency coming in, which is what you would expect over time."

Below the top five some major moves have been made up the table by pure play retailers with Figleaves climbing 31 places to 25th place with a score of 5.06 out of 10 compared with 3.16 last month. This might have been a result of the appointment of a new senior management team at Figleaves, who are looking to overhaul the entire business.

"One thing we notice is the lack of accountability of people who do things online so if they know somebody is looking at the online operation then things could improve. With a new boss in place people will take more care until they know what exactly they can get away with," suggests Shaw.

Other pure plays on the up are Firebox, which climbed 21 places to 24th spot with a score of 5.10 and Net-a-porter that moved up 13 places to ninth spot with a score of 6.10 out of 10.

However, one of the major disappointments with the online-only operators is there shockingly poor scores on accessibility for visually impaired shoppers. Figleaves, Net-a-porter, Asos, Amazon, Endless, ebuyer and all failed the accessibility test on every one of their pages. Firebox was the best of the bunch with a lesser 25 per cent of its pages failing.

"Bricks and mortar retailers don?t ignore accessibility in their stores so online retailers should not ignore it with their internet stores. This is obviously of particular importance for the online-only players so for them to be failing on 100 per cent of their pages is not acceptable and shows that they are not considering the accessibility issue," says Shaw.

Although each of the top five retailers have respectable scores of over seven out of 10 Shaw says the overall scores registered throughout the rest of table remain low. Since SiteMorse first started running its tests there has been little evidence of any across-the-board improvements in website performance.

He suggests this might be down to the fact online retailing is still relatively immature compared with selling goods in stores. "People are still finding their feet and retail managements still measure success purely in terms of sales whereas in physical stores many other measurements are taken into account such as footfall, sales per square foot, and customer service levels etcetera," explains Shaw.

"When other measurements, in addition to sales, are taken into account then it is likely that improvements will be made in the performance of retailers websites and the scores throughout the top 100 table will start to improve."

For yet another month it has not been possible to score and rank the sites of Gap and Boots as they continue to be excluded from the table as a result of them either being ?down? at the time of testing or because of their reliance on ?assistive? technology, which SiteMorse believes breaks the general ?rules of accessibility? of internet sites.

Another serial offender Pets At Home has been removed from the list and been replaced by Ted Baker, which achieved a credible opening score of 4.32, to place it in 36th spot in the table.



A % pages
1 ~ 8.04 ok 0 0.00%
2 ~ 7.66 ok 133 0.00%
3 ~ 7.50 ok 1 9.52%
4 ~ 7.49 fail 13 0.00%
5 ~ 7.34 ok 3 23.02%
6 + 3 6.39 fail 27 11.54%
7 + 11 6.16 ok 18 3.12%
8 - 1 6.10 ok 170 32.81%
9 + 13 6.10 ok 2 100.00%
10 + 14 6.09 fail 2 40.35%

see the remainin 90 via RetailBulletin

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