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Business  19, Dec 2013

How are Tesco and Redmart changing the groceries sale space online

Selling perishable items like milk and bread online is not an easy business. Websites like Tesco and Redmart are redefining how groceries can be sold online

Picture for representative purposes only (Courtesy: Amy Walters / Shutterstock)

Selling groceries online is certainly not an easy business to start with and when you have perishable goods added to the mix, it’s going to be a tall order. But this challenge hasn’t stopped Tesco (tesco.com in Malyasia) and Redmart (redmart.com in Singapore) –  two companies that we are reviewing — from trying. The former while is a traditional brick-and-mortar company — already a giant in the grocery business, trying to march into the e-commerce battlefield, whilst the latter is a company who solely sells online. It is interesting to see how they differ in terms of their digital customer experience. Here are some of things we found:

Let’s Find ‘Em (Search Function)
The search function is more important than you think. It is the saving grace for any website user. Lazy users will use it the moment they enter a website whereas the more hands-on users will use it as a last resort. Hence, it is essential that the function serves users well. Have a look at the video below showing users using Tesco and Redmart’s search function.

Redmart understood this point very well and placed much focus and emphasis on their search function. Their search bar is huge and they placed it right on the top of their website. You have to be blind to miss it. As you can see from the video, their function is able to predict and suggest your search query even before you finish typing them. Tesco’s search function, although not as good as Redmart’s search function, works quite well to serve their customers.

What’s in it? (Product Information)
It’s hard to find a good balance when providing product information – do you provide a lot of information about the product and make the product page look so cluttered that even teenagers would call it a mess? Or do you put too little information that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t figure it out?

There’s one interesting feature in Redmart’s product pages that deserves praise here. The nutritional information of the products is in their high-res image which makes it quite easy to read. It may even be easier to read than holding the product in your hands since that information is usually in small print. It is a delightful experience for customers.

Screengrab from Redmart.com showing nutritional value of Marigold Milk, which can be zoomed

Time to Checkout (Checkout Process)
A lot of dropouts come from the checkout process; if you make things hard to use, complicated and leave it with bugs to crawl on your customers, they are not going to buy from you. We found a number of problems faced by users when testing Tesco and Redmart, but there’s one mistake that many e-commerce websites still make – asking customers to sign up as members before they could checkout.

Some e-commerce websites don’t even allow you to look at your shopping cart before you register as a member. Imagine yourself shopping at a grocer and suddenly, out of nowhere, a salesperson decides to cover up your shopping cart and said, “Sir, you have to be a member to look at your shopping cart” or “Sir, I can’t let you buy these milk and eggs without getting your phone number!” Two important words to learn here – guest checkout.

So how was it? (Conclusion)
There are other issues that we found throughout the testing but we couldn’t review all of them; it would be too long. But overall, both Tesco and Redmart did quite well in serving their customers. We’ve seen far worse online retail experiences from other e-commerce websites. The key is to always put your customers’ needs before your own; your customers’ convenience rather than what your business or management wants. If you would like to know how customers use your site, conduct some usability tests. It is a solution that will uncover user behaviour and explain why they are leaving your site. How about you giving these two e-commerce sites a try and let us know what you think? We would love to hear from you.

Views are of the author and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them

Netizen Testing

Netizen Testing

Netizen Testing provides user experience testing & user research for websites and mobile apps. We also conduct market research as well as User Experience research for clients to make their digital products better. We work with companies such as with Jobstreet, AirAsia, Friendster, Lazada, iProperty Group, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and many more. We ‘crowd source’ people from all over the world to conduct user testing.

  • Selina

    There’s one Tesco nearby my housing area, and they put on a huge advertisement stating something like you can buy things from Tesco online without stepping out from the house. My reaction on it at that moment was “Finally!!”. Yes, finally, because I saw this kind of service available in other countries, such as Japan, much earlier before Tesco Malaysia put on this advertisement.

    If based on your findings, I found Redmart’s website is more user friendly than Tesco’s. Both websites are doing great, just that the search engine on Redmart’s website is more fast, easy and convenient. And I like how Redmart provide product information.

    Whether I will choose to buy grocery items online, at the moment, nop. This is all based on personal preference. I prefer stepping in a grocery store and shop around with my family on weekends. Even though if I am too busy to go there, maybe I will just stop by a convenient store like 7-11 or 99speedmart. I just like the “on-hand” feeling.Once again, personal preference.

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