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It’s a pretty obvious thing to say, but if you look at, or interact with companies who are ‘in trouble’ financially – like Game, Argos etc you can easily get a sense of a lack of innovation / energy from their stores/staff and website. It’s quite bizarre actually. Well, bizarre or completely understandable.

Shops like Game feel dilapidated, with very flimsy ‘special offers’ (offering no value).  Their website is cumbersome, poorly thought out, and provides a user experience (including customer service pre/after sales) that verges from shocking to poor at best.

B & Q website is another (www.diy.com – great domain name one would think in some ways) – it looks ‘alright’ – but when you actually get to the business of putting things in your basket – you get a confusing state where somethings are reservable to a store, others are ‘buy online’ and others are neither. It seems like a poor attempt to fit a website around poorly functioning back office processes.  Anyone impartial would say “Of course you should be able to order whatever you like and have it delivered to wherever. Of course you should be able to reserve anything/everything to go to any store you wish – not be beholden to what stock is where in the B&Q system”

Another marker of quite a few poor retailers is either a complete disregard to social media or (in some ways worse) a token effort – a Twitter account here, a Facebook like button there.

In recent years, I’ve become convinced (mostly by people in the know) that a good website starts with a good structure to your information, and that starts with a good understanding of what a user is trying to achieve (or would like to achieve). get it right, and you know what types of person are coming to your site, what makes them tick, and what will make them part with cash.

This is a pretty similar place to be to large system design – unless the whole transformation agenda is taken hold of, the system will fail. Unless the users and information is taken into account before you think about website colours, photos and buttons, it too will fail.  Retailers take note.

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