Outdoors Sector Ecommerce Audit Report for June 2019
Given the unseasonal weather, I thought we’d all like to retreat to the indoor walls right now!
As someone that sees audit data like this from a number of consumer brand and retail sectors, the outdoors data always interests me - it’s far more volatile than should be the case for such a concentrated and established sector. On the whole, I can only put this down to the relative inexperience that many industry players have of the digital world (something that’s constantly reinforced in conversations).
It’s not something, even knowing many of the solutions, that I take any satisfaction in, because I’ve bought these brands from these retailers for decades and I understand the effort and skill that goes into making it happen. It’s simply that many companies aren’t adapting quickly enough to the new realities of their consumers’ behaviour or what ‘effectiveness’ in multichannel retailing or branding looks like.
Three points I made in a recent keynote sum-up much of the change:
35%+ of UK and German households and 50%+ of US households now use Amazon Prime (free next day delivery)
Information and validation are no longer the preserve of brands and retail staff
There will be successful brands and successful retailers, but many more combinations of the two will emerge and they may be the real winners
Here are the June scores for retailers (hover over the columns for the actual scores):
Outdoors Retail Website Audit Scores - March 2019
As I said, the outdoors sector always surprises - the internal changes at O&CC may be the cause, but there’s certainly been a shift in the audit performance of Cotswold and Snow & Rock that stands out rather dramatically. It’s not that either site show big implementation changes, just a lot of positive tweaks, including some highlighted in last month’s report, and some improved third-party scoring that is included in the base data (Domain Authority, for example).
Unfortunately for both retailers, these improvements relative to their competition are yet to impact their organic rankings, as this month’s report shows. Cotswold, in fact, have seen a significant drop in their visibility.
AlpineTrek continue to score well, but the drop this month is due almost entirely to the recent publishing of a lot of oversized pages (this has a disproportionate impact as it affects user experience significantly). Overall, they operate a very tidy site, so a slip-up like this tends to be very noticable and will probably settle-down next month.
With everyone else seeming to struggle to maintain their websites effectively, it’ll be interesting to see whether things start to stabilise or not.
Outdoors Brands Website Audit Scores - February 2019
On the brand website front, it’s been another topsy-turvy month, to the point where I re-ran all the audits just to make sure that they were correct! It’s rare to see so many key players shift so much in just a month and especially predominantly downwards.
As for why, there are lots of different reasons - ME and Montane have both lost significant numbers of backlinks (a key component of search rankings); Berghaus’ previously near-perfect site has dropped some clangers with regards to both mobile and desktop optimisation; Arcteryx’s recent improvements have been compromised by less attention-to-detail on new pages, where a variety or duplication errors are impacting.
Overall, it’s a less happy picture for the web teams and developers as we head into the summer season. The fixes are mostly not that difficult to implement if you know where to look and, with the new season’s product introductions fast approaching, it’s important that effective processes for website updates are in place.
As trailed last month, this set of audit reports completes a full 6 months of continuous retail and brand audit data that will stay on the site. In response to requests, I’ll be covering more specific issues in future. However, if you want to get a full report for your own website with detailed recommendations and competitor comparisons, just contact me.
How Does the Website Score Work?
Some readers will be familiar with companies that offer or even send unsolicited ‘audits’ in an attempt to sell you website upgrades or SEO services. These scores are very different and use a very deep and broad set of indicators that combine the good, the bad and the ugly of a website’s platform, technical implementation, content and user experience. It also take into account the changing requirements placed on websites over time, such as smartphone performance.
It’s the same system that Resonant has used for a number of years for large ecommerce clients (although they obviously get the benefit of very detailed breakdowns of their strengths and weaknesses).
Fundamentally, improvements in audit scores, especially relative to close competitors, nearly always lead to measurable improvements in performance - the trick is to improve those areas that will most contribute to your business objectives, which might be product engagement and mobile-focused stockist signposting for brand owners or intuitive navigation and fast page-loads for retailers.