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FutureNow Article
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008

Old Navy’s New (E-commerce) Tricks

By Daniel McGuigan
January 15th, 2008

old_navy.jpgRecently, Old Navy redesigned their site, adding a lot of value with a few changes. The new site provides several good examples on how to improve e-commerce usability by focusing on ways to reduce friction in the customer experience.

So, let’s take a look at some of the changes to their product pages and shopping cart to get a better sense of what they’ve done a good job of so far, and share a few ideas for other changes worth testing…

Better Image Views on Product Pages

Old Navy product page zoom

As you can see, the site allows you to easily zoom into the product you’re looking at by using your mouse as a virtual magnifying glass. This saves the visitor time by not requiring them to open a pop-up window to view the product in detail — although they provide that option as well, it’s not as helpful as this excellent zoom view. By not forcing the customer into an extra step, the zoom feature will likely reduce Bounce Rate. But more importantly, better product views make people more likely to buy.

Easy Size Adjustments + Cart View

Old Navy add to cart

When you add items to the cart, you’re not taken directly to the cart and away from the shopping process. Instead, they acknowledge that your items are in the cart with this mini-cart drop-down on the upper-right side of the screen. After you’ve added the item, the mini-cart retreats to a simple checkout summary (# of items in cart and total price). Of course, you still have the option to go to checkout if you’re done shopping, but they’re not in a rush — in fact, they’d like it if you bought more stuff — which should help increase Average Order Value.

Adjust Your Order Without Leaving the Cart

Old Navy shopping cart

Once again, is looking out for the customer — right in the shopping cart, this time. They make editing item details as easy as I’ve seen it on any e-commerce site. One click of the “edit” button brings up this slick tool (pictured above), which allows you to change the size and color of your items in case you have a last-minute change of heart. Now that’s a smart way to lower cart abandonment. (Here are a few more.)

Ideas Worth Testing…

• I’m not sure why they’re advertising “free returns on all womens plus styles” when all the items in my cart are menswear; nor does it make sense that they let me know they have the product “Up to XXXL” when I’ve already chosen “Large” as my size; but those are minor details that shouldn’t have much effect on the shopping process. Still, this is prime real estate they’re wasting by delivering me a message that’s meant for someone else. The team should consider tailoring these messages based on what customers have already added to cart, and testing whether it improves conversion and/or average order value.

• When planning an e-commerce site, ask yourself at least this one question: “What do I hate about shopping online?” I’d be interested to hear your response in the comments section, but in the meantime, I’m sure that if I were to poll everyone at Future Now, most of us would answer, “When sites make me ‘register’ before checking out.” They should test getting rid of that immediately. If you want to a customer’s permission to be contacted when they’re not currently trying to give you money, the least you could do is ask them instead of forcing the issue. If you do ask — and you most definitely should — please do everyone (your customers and your CFO) a favor and only ask people to ‘register’ after you’ve got both their money. You’ll have their email address by then, anyway, so it’s not as big of a deal at that point.

[Editor's Note: Want more tips on how to optimize your e-commerce site? Read our free white paper on website optimization. Need specific ideas for your checkout process? We can help.]

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Comments (15)

  1. One of the things I hate about shopping online is when the type of card you pay with can add £5 to the order. Like alot of the airlines do in the uk. You only see what options you have for cards on the final payment page.

    I do not think the customer should be billed by the payment method they choose (without it being part of regular costs). A minimum amount like happens in shops is much nicer.

  2. I personally hate being unable to compare a set of deals – for example, Wiis are still out of stock in the UK and the only ones available are bundles and searching through all the pointless accessories they’ve thrown in the consoles is hard enough as it is without an easy comparison tool.

    I’d think the main problem with shopping online that the average consumer would face is that there’s no way to really tell how a product will look in real life – the slippers in the example are one thing, but a shirt or a dress can look completely different depending on who’s wearing it.

  3. As we are selling online. We are also facing problem which Matt mentioned. It is not exactly about shirts. As we sell scarves which are made from pure cashmere. Sometime women who shop on our site are not sure about quality as they can not feel the scarves. We have even got this feedback from few of our customers that before they feel it they don’t know value in the products.

    So I think that is main challenge these days specially with products like clothing.

  4. [...] Our second installment from the Grok Squad this week is from Daniel McGuigan. Daniel drills down into the new Old Navy site’s usability improvements. [...]

  5. I agree with Ladies Scarves – it’s easier to see the color, size, hand (texture) of clothing in person. It’s very difficult to get an idea how a product will look in use. Kudos to Old Navy for better pictures!

    A different clothing brand displays images of polo-style shirts folded like you’d find on the shelf in the store. You get an idea of color and collar style, but not much else. It would be better to see the whole shirt, and better still if was being modeled (like paper catalogs).

    I was researching a new flat panel TV and the popular retailer had seven pictures of a model I liked – all various front view angles (no simulated picture!) on a white background. None showed the connectors (the description was vague too). I had to go to another site to get a better description and see the connectors.

    Different visitors have different needs – one image does NOT fit all.

  6. I hope every online seller reads this article and stops making us register before we add stuff to our shopping cart. Yes, we do have “junk mail” email ids, but we would rather make a firm decision before we spend our precious time giving you our personal info.

  7. Old Navy is a bench mark eCommerce site for us. The way that “add to bag” works is great. It’s really well designed and usable. People often can’t find the cart in online shops, and this is a great to address that problem.

    The best tool that we have at our disposal for addressing the issue of experiencing physical texture and feel is the high resolution zoom in utility, like the one that Old Navy have implemented here.

    To supplement that, additional shots and angles could be used, but the cost to create so many images can become a factor for many smaller companies.

    I’m not sure what else could be done? I think it’s just a fact that you’re going to miss some sales on the web because you can’t deliver the physical experience.

    Registration is an unnecessary step, and it’s a shame that they haven’t taken a more innovative approach on this.

    Good review Daniel.

  8. The American shoe retailer implement a very good product page. They also utilise a rollover zoom similar to Old Navy, but the whole page has a very polished and professional feel to it, rather than feeling that new functionality is simply tacked on to existing pages. They have multiple product angles, all of which you can zoom in on and they also have a revolving Cross Sell section at the top of the page – possibly one of the best examples of a product page I’ve seen to date. Not sure how analytically friendly it is though.

    Images are expensive, but a necessary evil and Endless really show that effectively used, they can create a rich user experience without too many bells and whistles.

    The only other way I can think of to negate the fact that your customers are unable to feel your products is by offering free postage on all returns. Customers can then buy whatever they want in several sizes, try them on and send back whatever they don’t like without fear of being penalized.

  9. Wow Dan, the product pages are really nice, their rollover zoom is much cleaner then Old Navy’s and I like the way they allow you to browse through other similar items above the main product info, it’s enough to get a good look at some other options without taking too much focus off of the main product.

  10. The first user goal is to find the right product. By allowing customers to browse similar items from the same category, I believe is improving the product findability. On clickstream analysis (on my site), I have seen visitors going back-and-forth from category page to product page.

  11. Dan O’Sullivan’s idea of buying and returning several sizes at no penalty sounds good in theory but doesn’t work in the real world. Years ago, one of Sears Roebuck’s executives told me that the demise of the Sears Catalog was because of all the (womens) clothing returns. The returned clothes were rarely in salable condition, resulting in a total loss to Sears, plus the added costs of double handling. As the pioneers of mail order, Sears had more experience in the catalog business than any other company, becoming (at that time) the world’s largest retailer.
    Obviously, more “user friendly” and technically sophisticated web sites will result in higher customer satisfaction. An internet company’s profitability, maybe even it’s future viability, depends on it’s website’s design!

  12. por que no hay envios a mexico? me gusta todo lo que venden, el problema es que no puedo comprar via internet por que no hay envios a mexico. como le puedo hacer?

  13. Nice information.Thanks for share with us.

  14. I have more coupon to shopping shoebuy coupons at this

  15. Pretty good post.I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope. you post again soon.

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