JD Sports and Sports Direct have competed avidly to become the champion of sports apparel retailing; not just on the high street but also online. Both websites offer a range of high quality sporting brands at a discount. Additionally, both websites are two of the most visited sites in the UK and both see a significant quantity of traffic passing through on a daily basis. Today, these top competitors are pitted against each other in a race to decide who will collect the gold medal in sportswear distribution. In QuBit's latest Battle of the Sites, the two sites for JD Sports and Sports Direct are evaluated for website user experience.
The analysis was conducted using our proprietary market leading ‘Outside-In’ framework, which covers key aspects of website performance. The analysis focuses on the Find, Choose and Buy stages of the customer journey. Using website usability and conversion optimisation best practice we are able to critically evaluate these eCommerce websites. Each site feature is scored on presence and weighted against relevance. Scores are then summed to give a final percentage rank.
JD Sports deals the winning blow in the first trial of our Battle of the Sites by presenting the user with a sleek homepage, which immediately establishes JD’s brand identity. The main discount section available is advertised by a large red “MEGA SALE” banner, which creates a particular sense of urgency for the user. However, the homepage lacks any specific product images above the fold, and concentrates solely on the deals being offered, which detracts from the main focus of the site. The website’s navigation also leaves room for improvement: while drop down menus provide pleasantly wide spaces in which to move around, there are too many categories, which can be confusing for users.
On the other hand, Sports Direct is clear in its sales intentions due to the display of rotating pictures which helpfully illustrate the products sold on the website. In spite of this, the homepage’s main priority seems to be to offer discounts: at least nine examples of the word ‘sale’ are displayed at any one time. The sense of sales urgency is increased by countdown clocks which tell the user when each respective sales will end. Unfortunately, Sports Direct has forfeited a sleek looking home page with its excessive advertising of sales goods - it fails to match JD Sports’ quality proposition. Like JD Sports, Sports Direct’s navigation is potentially confusing as the dropdown menus contain far too many categories.
‘FIND’ MARKING CRITERIA
Based on our framework, the highest weighted criteria were: clarity of display (e.g. logical drop down menus), promotional displays, special offers and the general intuitiveness of navigation on the site.
‘FIND’ SCORE SUMMARY
JD Sports, in spite of its navigational pitfalls, manages to maintain a balance between site maneuverability and sales opportunities, ensuring that the user is not bombarded. Conversely, Sports Direct’s desire to promote sales seems to take a higher priority than easy navigation, and valuable space is wasted on sale banners that could more productively have been used to aid usability.
JD Sports again shows its sporting colours with an intuitive search filter (despite lacking a predictive search function) and provides a pleasant selection experience complete with informative and high-resolution images. The product pages offer the user product recommendations with multiple product views, customer reviews and ratings as well as a detailed description of fabrics and materials. The customer review section has a set of four rating criteria, which let visitors see more detailed descriptions including ‘comfort’ and ‘value’. JD Sports makes use of effective cross-sell opportunities, i.e. ‘most wanted’ and ‘others also bought’. However, JD Sports falls down in its particular lack of Calls To Action, which means that visitors are never actually encouraged to buy.
Sports Direct falls short at the outset of this part of the competition with its confusing search filter function and low-resolution images. Compared to JD Sports, the products feel extremely crowded with extra options crammed in. On the product page, the specifications lack a size chart, and the review section - where present - is not as comprehensive as JD Sports’. Sports Direct shows recommendations as well as products that other users have viewed on the current page; while JD Sports combines a ‘Most Wanted’ recommendation with this, creating a more intuitive set of products for the user. Sports Direct lacks CTAs on the product pages, in spite of their action filled home page, which means visitors don’t feel pushed to buy.
‘CHOOSE’ MARKING CRITERIA
The Choose section of the test evaluates how accurate the search results it delivers are, the relevance of related items and suggestions, how the products are displayed and the prominence of CTAs.
‘CHOOSE’ SCORE SUMMARY
JD was the clear winner in this section by once again providing a pleasantly easy user experience, smooth navigation and a good aesthetic appeal. What it lacked in CTAs, it made up for with its detailed reviewing function
and intuitive related items.
JD again succeeds in providing an attractive and clutter free checkout, keeping the user experience remarkably simple. The registration process does not require you to do a full sign up, with email being the only mandatory element. When completing information such as your address, a real-time check for accuracy is performed, ensuring that the form does not need to be re-sent in the event of a mistake. The checkout process is aided by breadcrumbs, meaning that you can easily go back to a previous stage if need be. There is a prominent ‘verified by Visa’ logo, which gives the user a sense of security during the purchase process, something that again Sports Direct lacks.
Sports Direct begins their checkout process sluggishly, by forcing the user to complete a long registration form with no guest option available or real-time accuracy checks. The checkout page also continues to be cluttered with further sales promotions across other areas of the site, creating
a potentially irritating distraction when attempting to check out. Additionally, there is no trusted security mark like JD Sports’ Visa seal. Sports Direct therefore fails to rally in the last leg of the race and JD Sports takes the gold!
‘BUY’ MARKING CRITERIA
Each checkout was evaluated on the prominence of CTAs, security reassurance, clarity of price breakdown plus the efficiency of the registration and card payment process.
‘BUY’ SCORE SUMMARY
Sports Direct seems to rate discounts over website quality, and by attempting to constantly promote sales, loses out on fairly simple and intuitive navigation system which JD Sports displays. Sports Direct provides a fairly frustrating checkout process allowing JD Sports to fly past the finish line in first place in this edition of Battle of the Sites.
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