H&M was a relative latecomer to ecommerce; the fashion retailer only started selling online in September 2010. They’ve now been online for just over four years, which is probably ample time in which to have improved their website.
Despite this, the online experience is still pretty poor, partly due to the fact that the in-store experience doesn’t match up at all to the ecommerce site.
In this post, I’m going to take a quick look at H&M’s website and suggest ways in which they could create a seamless customer experience.
1) No click-and-collect option
As more high-street shops are adopting a joined-up, omni-channel approach to retailing, customers have increasingly high expectations. When services click-and-collect is offered by your competitors, then naturally, your customers will increasingly expect this to be the norm.
According to the Financial Times, click-and-collect is growing at a faster rate than home delivery options. Strategy consultants, OC&C forecast that the volume of products collected in-store will increase by 53m compared to a rise of 38m for home delivery.
Despite this, a 2013 report by Serco highlighted that less than half of the UK’s Top 50 retailing brands offer click-and-collect. An enticing offer of free delivery (via the click-and-collect option) can often make the difference between your customer shopping with you or with your nearest competitor. As well as increased loyalty and satisfaction, click-and-collect gets your customer into the branch or store, providing upselling and cross-selling options.
H&M are definitely missing a trick by not offering click-and-collect, as adding an additional delivery cost can be frustrating for customers. New Look, John Lewis, Debenhams and Monsoon are just some of the high street retailers who currently offer this option, while Argos has seen serious benefits from early adoption of this channel. Some 30% of Argos’ sales are through click-and-collect.
2) Mismatched product codes
Okay, so you see a shirt you like in one of H&M’s stores, but it’s not in your size. So you decide to buy it online instead, by writing down the product code. However, when you get home and type in the code, the shirt is nowhere to be found…
That’s because H&M’s in-store product codes don’t match up to the codes online, making it quite difficult for customers to find an item online that they’ve seen in the physical store.
So what other options do you have? The product codes in-store do match up with the catalogue, so items of clothing can be ordered this way. It’s also possible to type the product code from the catalogue into the website to find something. Or thirdly, customers can use the Scan and Buy option from the H&M app on their mobile.
Although there are a few options available to the customer, H&M could streamline the process and make it so much simpler by using the same product codes across all their points of sale; from the store, to the catalogue, to the website. This would make it far more convenient for the customer to find an item of clothing, regardless of the channel they buy it from.
3) The website crashes during peak campaigns
H&M often run lucrative collaborations with key designers. The most recent collection was launched with Alexander Wang in November 2014. Eager shoppers sat at their computers, poised to find a designer bargain.
However, the whole experience was pretty frustrating for customers, as the sheer volume of traffic led to the website crashing. Those customers that were able to access the site soon found that many items of clothing were already sold out.
This is something that H&M could have anticipated, given that they have run similar campaigns with designers in the past. The lesson here is that if you’re going to run such hotly anticipated campaigns, make sure your website can handle the traffic. It can be pretty annoying for your customers who want to spend money with you but can’t even get to your site in the first place.
4) Difficult to locate a product found online in-store
As above, if you see a product online, but you want to try it on before you buy it, it’s very difficult to locate an item of clothing in the physical H&M store.
A recent report from Business Insider Intelligence revealed that 69% of Americans have “reverse showroomed”. This means that they have gone online to research products before heading to the physical store to complete their purchase. There’s clearly an opportunity for H&M here to actively capture those sales, by adapting to customer behaviour and joining up the online journey to the in-store experience.
5) Sales staff can’t order items of clothing for you
There is no link between the physical retail store and the online shopping experience. In other stores, including rival fashion retailer, New Look, if you see a jacket you like, but it’s not in your size, the in-store staff can order the right size for you and have it delivered to your house. This is a great win in terms of convenience and customer service.
At H&M, the only way to have an item delivered to your house is to go home, sit on your computer and order it yourself. You could scan the item with the H&M app, but it’s not something the sales staff can do for you.
6) Sale items appear to be there and then sold out when added to basket
There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve managed to grab a bargain and then later finding it’s sold out when added to your basket. You seriously don’t want your customer’s experience to result in broken dreams, so don’t raise their expectations in the first place. If your site says you can buy something, make sure the customer is able to complete the transaction.
7) No free shipping option
The flat rate of shipping is £3.90, regardless of the size or weight of your package or regardless of how much the customer spends. This seems like a good option if you’ve got a big order, but most customers are now used to getting free shipping of some kind, even if they need to spend a minimum amount (e.g. £50) to qualify. Offering a click-and-collect option would also provide customers with the possibility of free shipping.
8) No next day delivery option
If you order from the website, you can expect to receive your order within 4-6 working days; not bad, but pretty lousy if you need to buy a present urgently, or need an outfit for that big party your friend told you about at the last minute (maybe she’s trying to tell you something…). If you were buying a last-minute gift, you’d be better off by purchasing from one of the many retailers who do offer an express service, such as Next, John Lewis or New Look.
Speaking of New Look, the high street fashion chain, which offers value fashion at a price comparable to H&M, even offers free next day delivery if you spend over £65.
9) Sold out clothes shown on home page
There’s little point marketing clothes to your customers if they can’t actually buy them. The home page is valuable space for highlighting some of your best products, but if the customer can’t convert, then surely this is wasted space. Why not replace the images with products that customers can buy instead?
Do you have any examples of companies or brands who are providing a seamless customer experience and winning at omnichannel retailing? Please let me know in the comments!