Site Review: Lakeland

This Christmas, whilst in a frenzied dash for last minute presents for the family, I stumbled across the Lakeland website, and I must say I was rather impressed.

The website itself has been designed so clearly with their customers in mind. The whole online buying process is simplified, helping customers shop online with the same ease as wandering around their stores.

So what are they doing right?
Consumers hate registration. I have mentioned this before but I really cannot stress it enough. For me personally it’s right up there with visiting the in-laws! Our online survey found that it was in fact one of the top reasons for consumers abandoning their carts.

Of course there is the constant battle with wanting to obtain as much customer information you can and not aggravating them so much that they never visit your site again. So what’s the solution to this conundrum? Making it completely optional, of course.

When trying to buy a coffee maker, I was given the option of creating an account, if I wanted to. Sites such as HMV, Tesco and Topshop all make you sign up before purchase. As much as I hate it, sometimes if I know I’m likely to repurchase from a site, it does make sense to register my details, so I can receive the full benefits the store offers.

So I opted to sign up. As reasonably regular customer, I’m quite happy to receive any news of their sales!
The likes of Comet offer no registration at all. Websites that offer one-off high-end products are less likely to receive repeat buyers, and customers will be less inclined to sign up.
As with anything, it’s a good idea to experiment and find out what works best for your site. In my opinion I think Lakeland found a great way to approach the issue. Leaving it up to the customer removes any barrier to purchase while making it easy to register if you want to.

Only ask for what’s necessary

If you do want your customers to sign up with you, you should be making the process as easy for them as possible. Again the Lakeland site shines above the rest by only asking for the information that is completely necessary. Some websites I have encountered have even asked for my birthdate. Why they would need this is beyond me. Can you imagine going into a physical shop and being asked all these questions before you can purchase anything?

The website contained a decent amount of information on the page to aid shoppers with purchasing decisions on pricing, size, delivery and returns. What I particularly liked was the ability to sift through reviews from like-minded customers.

Customer reviews are a well-proven sales tool. People want to be constantly reassured before they invest their hard-earned pounds – our research indicated that security is still a major concern when shopping online – and product reviews from previous happy customers helps. Adding customer reviews helps Lakeland differentiate itself from its competitors as well as building trust with its clientele. This is even more imperative for smaller businesses with less brand equity.

Give Options

What works so great for this site is that they do give their customers plenty of delivery options. This is carried from sign-up right through to the delivery process.

Click and collect is a great way to incorporate multichannel propositions into the process. I can often be skeptical about buying larger purchases online and I’d rather see it in the flesh before I fritter away my money. So I was rather pleased to see that Lakeland offered me the option to collect from my nearest store.

Timed Delivery Slots

One area Lakeland could look into is timed delivery slots. The idea of sitting in all day waiting for a coffee machine is no one’s idea of a holiday. Offering extras such as specific delivery times can contribute significantly to a customer’s overall experience, giving a company a competitive edge.

On this occasion, I wanted my presents to be delivered. Again, Lakeland gave me options and I was able to select different delivery addresses, enabling me to send the presents to different people. This gets another huge thumbs-up!

Overly long forms are another huge irritant to me. Any websites that endeavour to speed up the whole process are a sure way to get into my good books. The forms on Lakeland’s site were able to find and complete my addresses by simply entering the postcodes. This was a huge time saver for me, exactly what I needed after leaving my Christmas shopping to the week before!

I have been so impressed with Lakeland in general, and have been back on quite a few occasions since Christmas already.

The main aim of any ecommerce site is to encourage your customers to buy from you. So why not make it easy for them? When I forgot my password for my account, Lakeland made it easy and intuitive to retain it again, and that’s exactly how it should be.

One thing I would say though is Lakeland specify the email could take up as long as ten minutes to arrive in your inbox. In the world of ecommerce, this is quite a long time and could deter potential customers.

Overall, I was impressed with the general layout and ease of use throughout the whole website. It is well-designed and usable. There are, however, a few niggles but nothing that would spoil the user experience on the site. One area Lakeland has scope to improve is through its use of social media. Although the website does feature links to Facebook, a presence on other channels such as Twitter seems to be missing.