Sunday 2 December 2012

No Marks for Marks (or Spencer)...

OK, maybe this is drifting away from Adwords a little but only slightly; it's still about using your website sensibly to attract your customers. I need a new evening suit - y'know the whole James Bond look - and need new trousers and a new bow tie - a self-tie bow, not a nasty clip-on. Unfortunately I don't have Mr Bond's monetary backing so I'm on a budget and anyone from the UK will know that one of the best places to buy this sort of thing and still get some quality is Marks and Spencers. M&S are a very well established chain store who sell higher quality food and clothing and I've bought from them many times before. So, I go online and find the M&S site, no problem. Within a few minutes I've established that they do indeed sell self-tie bows and a selection of formal wear. I don't want to order online (I'm a fussy budget buyer) so I need to know where the nearest store is and head for the "Store Finder" link.

This is what their Store Finder page looks like (well, it's the important part).  On the left is the normal "Enter the postcode or town" section while on the right is another search option where you can enter the store name or part of it.  OK, I thought, that's a little odd since most of the stores are named after the town they're in but I'll go with it.  So, I type in my town "masham" and this is what I get:

Hmm, no results found, that's a little odd.  I know I live in the North and it's quite a long way from a city but there must be some Marks' up here, I know there are, I've seen them.  So I try "Northallerton" a fairly large town nearby that I know has a Marks' food store.  Yes, there it is in the result, but it's the only result. So I try York, yep, 4 results and a Google Map plotting where they are - but only in York.  Harrogate - 1 result and again a map to show it, but only the one in Harrogate.  

Here I pause for a while because I can't quite believe what I'm seeing.  Unless I'm seriously mistaken, you have to know where the store is in order to search for it.  Every single store search I've ever used in the past has worked on the basis of finding stores nearest to the chosen search parameter then worked out from that point to show 5 or 10 of the closest.  No, not here.  Marks and Spencers - probably one of the largest chains in the UK, has a Store Finder that is only useful if you already know which towns and cities have a Marks and Spencer and which ones are the closest to you.  It's just as absurd with the postcode search.  If you put in HG1 (central Harrogate), it'll show the Harrogate store (wow!).  If you put in HG4 (the first part of my postcode and - I'm sure you can guess - still a Harrogate postcode - you get the old "No Results Found" message.

Who in the design team thinks this is the right way to run a store locator?  Who built this and thought to themselves, "There, that'll help customers find us.".

It's truly astonishing to think that a store of this magnitude can appear to actively make it hard for customers to find their stores.

So, no marks for Marks.  Don't make the same mistake.

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