Friday, January 18, 2013

Russell & Bromley finally gets going with eCommerce

I’ve been fairly critical of shoe retailer Russell & Bromley in the past, mainly because their online property has been poor. So I was surprised and somewhat pleased to hear that they have eventually launched an eCommerce site.

But hardly setting the world alight, Russell and Bromley have decided not to launch with an all singing and dancing multi-channel tablet-optimised site… but have gone for a very mediocre online trading site instead.  Using Venda’s Software-as-a service cloud offering (BTW: shouldn’t that be shop-as –a-service) they have finally put women’s shoes, men’s shoes and handbags for sale via their site.
So given my criticisms of their site before; I thought I’d provide my initial thoughts on this Internet retailing launch by one of the last High Street entrants:

Design :
It’s not that I dislike the creative approach they have taken…  OK, perhaps I do slightly… but what I would have liked from a brand that clearly sets itself up to be of high quality is a site that oozes prestige and refinement. Instead we get a ‘me too’ formulaic & grey-on-grey site that fails to impress. Model shots are scare & aren’t particularly good quality and  product zoom functionality was hard to find (and even non-existent on some product detail pages)…perhaps the only saving grace is the high quality of the actual product photographs.

Usability:
Grey text on white backgrounds (or sometimes vice versa) is never good for on-screen legibility. But add in the use of serif fonts and a small point size and you’ll have even a hearty share of the good-sighted users squinting at the screen. It’s therefore unsurprising that there’s no obvious accessibility page/ statement anywhere… 
Even the navigation seems to be missing a forth menu item, perhaps they are waiting for another product category to come online soon?

Technology:
With no 360 product spin (surely a useful way of showcasing women’s and men's shoes these days?) , no video and no further useful fit functionality the site hardly cuts new ground. Yes, with a Google Page Speed of 92% the site is fairly optimised, but I have the feeling that’s more down to Venda’s platform and system than anything else.

Content
With no blog, short & basic product descriptions, no user generated reviews and no text on the category landing pages… R&B is showing how not to use content to sell product. Maybe it doesn’t need to and the products sell themselves?
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