Web faux pas

Robin Petherbridge of Creative Partners reveals some of the tricks of the trade gleaned from 25 years creating campaigns for the marine industry

There is much discussion in the media about how M&S’s new £150m website appears to have lost them 8% of sales.

Clearly asking six million customers to re-register won't have helped. Barely half of them did so, only to find all their wish lists had disappeared.

And yet the new site somehow defaulted to customers' old delivery addresses so their orders went astray.

But technical faux pas aside, what of the new site's design?

Some say it's a victory of style over practicality, that it's hard to navigate and it takes too long to make a purchase.

But more fundamental than that, it seems clear that the magazine style 'editorial' approach basically gets in the way of people finding the products they want.

An e-commerce website should not try to be a marketing platform. It's a retail outlet.

Most people who come to an e-commerce site already know what they're after, you don't need to try to sell them something; you just need to help them buy whatever they came in for.

If you feel your target audience is interested in editorial content, keep it in a separate part of the site, so it doesn't interfere with the main shop.

It all comes down to the number one fundamental principle of successful e-commerce: make the purchase process as easy as possible.


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