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3 big names, £250m spent on websites – but was it worth it?

By Jess Heald on Mon 12 January 2015 in Topical

In the last year, we’ve seen a number of companies revamp their websites to make them more user friendly and ultimately attract more customers. 

Improving your current online presence is essential in order to remain competitive, whether you are a large corporate or a small to medium sized enterprise.

In mid-2014, M&S spent £150m, B&Q forked out £60m and Selfridges splurged £40m on new websites; but was it really worth it?

Let’s focus on M&S – after launching, many customers had problems with the revamped site. General design features such as images for items were said to vanish, and customers did not take to the ‘clunky, ineffective’ layout very well. Adding to this, there were delivery issues and the checkout appeared very temperamental, sometimes not working at all. These complaints were voiced on Twitter, quickly generating bad press around the expensive investment M&S made. All in all, this caused a decrease in online sales of 8.1% in Q3 of 2014. Not only that, shortly after the new site was in place, shares were trading around 1.5% lower too, and it’s been recorded that only 3.2 million of the 6 million customers have re-registered on the new site. Although most of these issues have now been rectified, we can still ask the burning question; was it really worth £150m?

What does this mean for you?

We’ve seen how the big companies can waste millions creating new websites, which we are certainly not encouraging. However, investing in the right areas will do no harm.

Consider your initial approach – as time is of the essence, offloading your design to an external company or generic site building programme may appear the best option, however it is probably not the most efficient and effective approach.

There are 2 key things for you to consider when creating a new site:

  • Customer experience – recognise the experience your customers currently expect from you, after all you know their needs best. For example, do you have special pricing set up for customers? Get this right and you will avoid your sales teams and telemarketers spending most of their time resolving complaints rather than making important sales.
  • Don’t forget your other systems – your internal processes are just as important as your online processes when it comes to your website. For example, having your orders processed directly into your accounts solution will save tonnes of error prone, time consuming rekeying.

We believe that as an SME with the right measures in place, you can create a successful website that keeps customers returning whilst not depleting your savings. Although private sector companies like M&S, B&Q and Selfridges might not think their investments are excessive, it’s safe to assume from reading customer reviews and complaints that their site may not be as successful as they’d hoped considering how much they’ve spent.

 If you’ve made the move online, you may benefit from visiting our website.