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Are Big Retailers Ready for the Shopping Season?

JCPenny, Kohls, Macy’s and Sears go head to head for Web Performance

54 percent of online shoppers from around the world buy products online weekly or monthly (Global Total Retail 2016 Survey). The online retail experience needs to meet very high expectations of shoppers with wandering eyes and short attention spans.

Heading into the shopping season, Qentelli put four major retailers head to head on their online shopping experience JCPenny, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Sears. Who came out on top may surprise you.

With Macy’s just a fraction behind, Kohls won the best user experience in every single category that was measured. Categories included launching website, searching products, finalizing the cart and finalizing payment. It is clear the Kohl’s website has been completely optimized for any shopping season.

And while last holiday season (2015), JCPenny beat out our #2, Macy’s in holiday sales, it seems like Macy’s has picked up the pace to come in close contention for the number one spot, possibly positioning themselves for a strong 2016 holiday season.

4 Tips For Retailers to Prepare for Holiday Shopping Season

It’s key to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Here’s what retailers can do now to assess their websites for increased traffic and load.

  • Is your site loading too slowly? Anything that takes longer than 3 seconds to load is considered slow and may cause users to abandon the page and worse still send them looking for your competition, hence the need for speed. Kohl’s website is fast and light, which is why it takes the lead out of the measured retailers in this report. Two things to consider to improve your conversion rate and lower your abandonment rate are better application response times specially in lower than optimal network bandwidth conditions, fewer user actions to complete the tasks or functional flows.
  • Test UX on three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet). If an improved user experience on applications is your goal, one thing for application design and development teams to consider is consistency. Your users want to have the same experience, navigation, relative screen positioning and the joy of using your application regardless of the platform / device they access it from.
  • Use strategic positioning that follows the user’s shopping flow – The golden rule for a better user experience is to understand the purpose of your web application. What is the application meant to offer? What is it that attracts your users? This should drive the navigation of the application and the positioning of content. Place what is most important at the top of the page / as a menu. Make stuff easy to find and make the page simple to navigate. Explore one-page designs; they are easy to follow if provided with the right pointers! Avoid nested menus, dead-end pages, search boxes (use radio buttons instead) – Your users shouldn’t have to learn using your application, keep it simple!
  • Check the size of your images – While images are key to the shopping experience. Large images can slow down the page and cause user frustration. JCPenny’s site experienced this in our testing. Slower pages can easily lead to abandonment to your competitors website. Easy ways to mitigate issues with delay due to image rendering, is to prioritize visual content, control render blocking and enable auto compression.

How did we test the sites? All tests were executed on Qentelli’s Cloud Platform stages on Amazon AWS Cloud, with the server located on US East Coast – Northern Virgina. See Infographic for more details.

For more information, please contact us on how we can help deliver an optimal user experience quickly, efficiently and with continuous delivery.

Disclaimer: All tests were conducted under similar conditions and executed simultaneously on all web applications. The results were analyzed based on data collected over a 3-day period with a goal to understand the real user experience.