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Maplin Checkout Teardown

Big Brand Teardown

Maplin have reportedly invested £40 million in multichannel development. The focus of their web strategy has changed from keyword optimisation to catering to their audience’s behaviour.

This teardown focusses specifically on their checkout to uncover the usability and user experience of Maplin’s buying process.

Time is of the essence

Checking out doesn’t get off to a great start. From selecting an item to buy to starting the buyer process takes precious seconds of my time. There are two things slowing the process down that might cause a problem for shoppers with slower devices or poor connections.

The first is a page redirect that shows an old design for one or two seconds before showing the right one. The second is the login page itself where this happens. See the video below:

Bad: The page takes additional time to load as it reloads a new design. This might cause users to lose trust in the site because it’s not clear what’s happening here.

Good: There is a guest checkout option.

Bad: Interrupting the flow of the checkout with a prompt to login or supply your email address. It feels like a barrier even with a guest option available.

Title and name -who am I?

Once within the checkout the form filling be once selecting in-store pick up and once selecting home delivery.

Starting the checkout process off is a form for delivery address. The first thing to fill out is my title, which I only ever have to think about when filling out online forms.

Title list expanded. 'M' and 'Fao' highlighted

Bad: Title is a required field, which is totally unnecessary. Not everybody wants to be addressed with a title. The trouble with lists is that they can’t be exhaustive. This list includes Reverend and Sir but not Bishop or Baroness.

Title serves no purpose in an online transaction so it’s a real shame to see it as a required field here.

Good: On the plus side they have included the gender neutral title ‘M’. This might have been brought to their attention by a customer.

Want to test: The list also includes a title ‘Fao’. I suspect this isn’t a title at all and actually stands for ‘For the Attention Of’. It’s nice to offer another general neutral option but I’d like to know how often this is used. I’m not sure many people would look here or know what it stands for when put in the context of titles.

Personal names can be an accessibility issue as they’re treated differently in different cultures.

Bad: Maplin ask for Surname, which is not a universal term. In fact some cultures “mix and match differences in personal names”. Given that this is a UK site though you could argue that it’s suited to its audience as most UK residents are used to giving a surname.

Good: I tested the character allowance to make sure this form field would accept very long surnames, such as the Portuguese one below. It passed.

Surname field with long name entered

Addressing the problem of long forms

Good: There’s postcode lookup and you also have the option to enter your address manually.

Want to test: I’d like to see how this form would perform if the address fields were only generated when the user wanted to enter their details manually. This would make the form shorter in appearance.

Bad: Shoppers must give the delivery address a nickname, even though they aren’t registered customers, which I assume this is aimed at.

Store ‘Pick me up’

Choosing store pick up leads me straight to a form for basic contact details, easing my task load and making my journey through the checkout smoother.

Good: There’s no need for title or surname here, just any name you wish to give.

Form to arrange in-store pick up

You must provide a telephone number but Maplin have given a fairly sound reason for needing this (they’ll text you when your order is ready).

Delivery options

Bad: There’s no option for free delivery. Unexpected costs account for 28% of shopping cart abandonment.

Good: Multiple options available, along with an the delivery speed. Costs are added to the order total as they’re chosen.

Delivery options page

Paying is a pain

Want to test: There are no trust badges or seals. 13% of online shoppers abandon transactions due to card security worries I’d like to know if this is the case here. The jumpy login page doesn’t help to put shoppers at ease.

Bad: Shoppers have to select their card type. This is a pet peeve of mine because card type can be easily detected from the card number.

Bad: Form fields aren’t validated as you complete them. I had to submit my responses before I saw any errors. The error messaging also isn’t helpful. See the image below where you can see that a partial card number has received a positive tick (proving there is no real validation at this point). The error messages just reiterate that the field is required.

Credit card form showing error message

Bad: I have to give my address again. There’s no option to use your delivery address. In addition there’s no postcode lookup here. This is odd considering it was an option earlier.

The result?

Maplin’s checkout looks nice but there is definite room for improvement.

The overall issue is that the form creates more work for the shopper than it should. By requiring an email address to proceed, asking for title, asking for card type and forcing the shopper to re-enter information Maplin’s checkout slows users down.

Shipping costs and page load issues also degrade the user experience and could be the cause of shoppers abandoning the checkout.