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Camping retailer Millets, which was rescued from administration last year, recently unveiled a revamped site aimed at boosting its digital revenues.

Designed by Lost Ferret, the overhaul came about as new owner JD wanted to bring its ecommerce platform up-to-date. 

It includes new product pages and a redesigned checkout, but is it up to scratch? In order to find out, I tried to buy a new jacket...

Homepage

The homepage is similar to the old version, though the options at the top are more precise (e.g. ‘clothing’ is now split out into ‘men’s’, ‘women’s’ and ‘kids’’).

It also uses more white space to help break the page up, whereas the previous iteration has an illustration of the outdoors in the background.

Furthermore the tiles under the carousel now lead to clothing ranges instead of specific products.

However the product carousel is still the most prominent feature, which may not be such a good idea. We recently investigated the use of carousels in ecommerce and overall the results weren’t very encouraging.

There are a number of usability issues, including the patience required to watch them revolve, and a case study from the US found that a carousel displaying five slides was only only clicked on by 1% of site visitors, with the first slide bagging 84% of those clicks.

Therefore, Millets should track how often the feature is used to decide whether it’s worth giving over so much space on its homepage.

Product page

The product pages tick a lot of boxes for best practice – there are several product images, a zoom function, stock information, and the ‘Add to basket’ call-to-action stands out from the rest of the page.

However there are also a few improvements that could be made. For example, Millets advertises the fact that it offers free delivery on all orders over £50 at the top of the page, but the pale grey colour makes it easy to miss.

Also, product reviews are a hugely important sales driver on ecommerce sites yet the link to reviews is quite small.

Millets could encourage customers to leave reviews by changing the text to ‘Be the first to write a review’ or by allowing people to just give a star rating rather than taking time to write a full review.

Finally, though the product description is thorough it is quite dry and longwinded. The copywriters should perhaps consider using bullet points, and avoid starting every sentence with ‘The North Face Evolution’.

Shopping basket

When you click the ‘Add to basket’ CTA you are immediately linked to the shopping basket, with the emphasis clearly on getting you to the checkout as soon as possible.

The most prominent CTA on the page direct you to the ‘secure checkout’ (bonus points for security reassurances) while the ‘Continue shopping’ button is a dull grey.

It also offers a neat summary of your order including an image, the estimated delivery time and cost, a status bar showing you how many steps to completion, and numerous security reassurances.

Checkout

Millets has stripped down its checkout to just two pages and avoids any mention of registering an account.

Too much form filling, forced registration and hidden delivery costs are some of the main causes of basket abandonment, so Millets has done a great job by avoiding these mistakes.

It also offers several user shortcuts, including a postcode lookup tool.

However one of the best touches is that it gives you real time advice on filling in personal details as you click on each new field – and if you miss a field you get a warning in red.

Unfortunately it loses points at payment stage as you aren’t offered the choice of using anything other than a credit card, and the design is inconsistent with the rest of the checkout process.

Even so, it’s still a very quick checkout process with very few barriers to purchase.

In conclusion...

Overall Millets’ new website is extremely simple to use and making a purchase only takes a few minutes.

The basket and checkout process does a great job of summarising the product details, costs and delivery times, while form filling is kept to an absolute minimum.

It also gives useful tips during the checkout process so the user always knows what is expected of them.

That said there are improvements that could be made. For example, I’m not convinced about using a carousel on the homepage and the review system and descriptions on the product pages could be tightened up.

But the main problem is that the site isn’t mobile optimised. At this stage, if a business is planning to overhaul its ecommerce platform then a mobile optimised site should be one of its main concerns.

Millets has missed a trick here, and it will be interesting to see if a mobile site is rolled out in the near future.

David Moth

Published 7 February, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1676 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Interesting review.
Millets (part of Blacks) was bought by J D Sports last year - but they don't seem to have put this site on the same web platform as JD Sports itself: Millets bit not J D Spprts has a prominent 'compare products feature.

Also ironic that you point out the lack of Mobile Optimsation: back in 2010 I read that 'JD Sports launches mobile optimised site'. !

We've been praising some great, functional Responsive web sites here recently: but sadly Millets is not Responsive: not something that Lost Ferrets feel is important?

over 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

I can't upload images here: but Millets has a rather scary red icon and intimidating big bold text 'Unfortunately an error has occured'.

Guess what crime you have to commit to see it?

Put into your basket more items than are left in stock for that item / size/ colour !

Easy to do when shopping the Sale section: where stock quantities are down in single digits.

The site does explain what you've done, but it's still a little harsh.

over 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Actually David: we should have both spotted that Millets seems to be just a skin on the Blacks.co.uk site... also run by Lost Ferrets.

Also, the new site seems to have no products with reviews.... yet the review site (reviews.millets.co.uk) does have reviews: for the same products. At least for the ones I checked.

over 3 years ago

Philip Allen

Philip Allen, Studio Director at D. Agency

I have to say I too am disappointed at the lack of a Responsive Design here but maybe it’s a budget choice at Millets?

We’ve just spent the last year building a fully RWD E-commerce distribution for the mid-market in Drupal and I can vouch for the impact RWD has on site like this in terms of time and budget.

I’m a big fan of Lost Ferrets work. They were probably the first company to develop a genuine one-page checkout without forcing people to register and The Officers Club site they built a few years back influenced our own thinking.

That said, you’ve made some valid points here David, thanks.

over 3 years ago

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