Study: Consumer Brands Drop The Ball When It Comes To Online Transactions
The newest interactive asset in WPP's Wunderman network partnered with Calabasas, Calif.-based Informa Research Services to study 25 of the top consumer brands (as defined by Fortune 500's annual ranking of America's Largest Corporations).
Over three months, a group of roughly 50 mystery shoppers visited the sites of these brands and ranked them on the criteria of awareness, appeal, consideration, purchase and transaction, and loyalty. They attempted to search for, buy and return items, and to use social media features like profile creation and product review tools. Meanwhile, a group of 10 Blast Radius panelists (from tech and creative backgrounds) evaluated the sites along the same criteria.
According to Brian Mitchinson, Blast Radius' vice president of marketing, consumer brands struggled at making the transaction process fluid and customer-friendly--whether their market was apparel, computer electronics, automotive, consumer durables or household and personal products.
"The overall customer experience is great upfront, with beautiful photography, thoughtful product placement and efficient site search," says Mitchinson. "But once it came down to processing an actual transaction, these brands struggled across the board."
But the news was not all bad for consumer brands and their online experiences. The leaders in each category--Newell Rubbermaid's Sharpie (consumer durables), Levi Strauss & Co (apparel), Apple (computer electronics), Kimberly Clarke's Kleenex (household/personal products) and Volkswagen (automotive)--offered stellar branded experiences with smooth navigation, creative that tied to offline ad copy and imagery, as well as product suggestions and personalization tools.
While the report did not list the poorest-performing brands in each category, consumer durables sites had the least customer-friendly sites overall. For brands like Fortune Brands' Jim Beam and Herman Miller, their lack of adequate product info and seemingly generic design dragged scores down, while apparel-maker Jones New York turned users off with a "static" site that had "no interaction."