Marks & Spencers blame new website for drop in sales

08 Jul Marks & Spencers blame new website for drop in sales

Upgrading your eCommerce store?

Here is a cautionary tale for eCommerce owners. It might seem like a great idea to have an entirely new website built but you need to make sure that the transition is as seamless as possible for your current users.

M&S boss Marc Bolland has admitted that website teething issues are responsible for the retailer’s continuing declining sales. The general merchandise arm posted a 1.5% fall in like-for-like sales over the 13 weeks to June 28 – three years of quarterly declines for that side of the business – while food sales saw like-for-like sales increase by 1.7%.

The website rebuild was intended to breathe new life into the 130 year-old business but it has struggled with technical issues since its launch last February. Users have reported a slew of issues including unintuitive navigation and problems re-registering their accounts.

Marks & Spencer Website

[Tweet “Testing has to be the great forgotten art in web development”]

It’s a hard lesson for them to have to learn but it was entirely avoidable. A well thought out re-development should have looked at ways of either migrating existing user accounts to the new system or making the re-registering process as quick as possible without becoming a barrier to completing sales.

Poor navigation is also inexcusable. As an online retailer with a large catalogue of products, your navigation is your most important consideration. If your customers cannot browse as freely and intuitively as they would in a physical store then something is wrong.

So who is to blame? That is a hard question to answer and ultimately the blame does not fall on one head. But most importantly these problems could have been avoided with proper testing prior to launch.

Testing has to be the great forgotten art in web development. As a stakeholder that is intimately involved with a new development project it is hard for you to test objectively. I am sure that Marc Bolland was able to cut costs considerably by not using thorough A/B testing and focus groups at various stages of this project. But was it worth it?


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