Tips from the Top

A few posts ago we discussed ForSee’s index of the top online retailers in the United States. Over the next few blog posts we’ll be looking at a few of these sites in more detail, to find out what these sites are doing to have their customers eating out the palm of their hand.

It comes as no surprise that the number one spot was awarded to pure-play site Amazon. The e-tailer has always invested (and continues to invest) massively in its technology, with its one-click purchasing offering an easy and enjoyable shopping experience.

Although your site might not have the pulling power of some of these brands, they can act as a guiding light for web usability.

What’s their Secret?

Looking through the apparel and accessories category, L.L Bean and Victoria’s Secret lead the way with impressive scores of 83 and 81, respectively. One thing both these sites have in common is the fact they both give prime real estate to the search bar, enticing users to dig deeper into their sites.


Below the search bar are several key categories of products. These are clear, quick to drop down and well chosen, all saving the user time while encouraging them to browse.

One thing that you’ll notice all the top retailers do, is to send out a confirmation email once something has been purchased. These are vital to customer satisfaction and will verify you’ve ordered the right things.


Confirmation emails are a great way of building trust in the overall fulfilment process, and for ensuring simple mistakes like choosing the wrong size or colour can be corrected. There is no excuse for ordering your wife the wrong size now, I’m afraid!

The success of these brands highlight the fact that the total user experience goes far beyond the user interface.

Images to the left, check out to the right

Scrolling through the top websites you’ll also notice that the majority are formatted in the same way, with product information and photographs on the left hand side and the checkout on the right. As highlighted here on the slightly risqué Victoria’s Secrets site: (This was the tamest picture I could find, sorry chaps!)

Research suggests that visitor attention tends to gravitate towards the visual first and that we typically find it easier to move from left to right, rather than the other way round. If you have a look down the sites you’ll see nearly all are formatted in this way.

Beauty and the Best was awarded with a respectable 84 points, making it the highest-ranking beauty website. One way the company has secured such a high position for its customer satisfaction is by suggesting similar products the user may be interested in.

The “customers who bought this also bought…” feature continues to be a top way to cross-sell. By highlighting related products you can significantly improve the user experience – and more importantly your sales!

Appealing Delivery

Shopping online has one big disadvantage to shopping in-store: you have to wait for the darn things to arrive! Apple tackles this situation by giving estimated delivery dates; they also provide a tracking service.

Customers’ expectations are changing rapidly, demanding more for less. Consumers are no longer happy to waste time waiting at home for a delivery. They expect to know when their items will be delivered. Our own research suggests nearly two-thirds of consumers see timed deliveries as an important factor in their purchasing process. Giving customer an exact package delivery time makes a big difference. It gives customers a timeframe to work with and will reduce the amount of phone calls and emails you’ll receive.

With Christmas less than six months away, now is the time to start implementing changes to your eCommerce site. It also gives you chance to test what works best -and who better to learn from than those already at the top?