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Retail Madness Results: Luxury Region Goes Bust

If you missed our first post on Retail Madness, here’s a brief recap: Yottaa has developed a new measure of user experience for online apps called the Customer Experience Index (CXi). To debut the CXi, we’ve created a March Madness-style competition for the world’s top-retail companies. The winner of Yottaa’s Retail Madness tournament will be the company with the best CXi score. The Customer Experience Index doesn’t just measure performance – it weights various measures of performance against the richness of the content and adds mobile performance, as well. Read our first post for more on methodology.

This week we’ll be blogging about our four tournament “regions”: Tech, Luxury, Mass Merchant, and Kitchen Sink (a hodgepodge category including sports, industrial products, and more).

Today, we’re starting out with the worst peforming region, but also perhaps the most competitive: Luxury. This region hosts 16 of the most successful online brands in fashion and housewares. They range from more accessible fashion brands such as Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch to the truly luxurious, high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

In this region, CXi scores range from 50 – 63 – both the tightest range of any region, and by far the lowest. (The possible range for this scale is from 50-100, and the other regions top performers score close to 100).

Why is that? Let’s take an example.

Estee Lauder scored the lowest, albeit by a small margin. The site is somewhat slow on desktops; the home page in particular drags down the average. (We tested the home page, a category page, and a product page for each site). But the mobile site, as we’ve measured on a 3G connection, is nearly 5x the best practice benchmark of 4 seconds for mobile.

What’s dragging the site down is a lot of excess weight, and not the good kind. We know that sites tend to be more successful and engaging when they have more images, scripts, and features, so if a site has weight in those categories it’s justifiable to a point. Estee Lauder’s site, however, is weighed down by lots of CSS, including 13 or 14 per page on the mobile presentation. The home page of the mobile site alone downloads 2.5 MB of data.

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Estee Lauder is feeling the heat in the Retail Madness tournament

In general, Estee is a good example of the luxury region as a whole. These sites prize presentation over functionality. They have a lot of style, and look great, but compared with their more utilitarian counterparts in other categories, the user experience is lacking because of the ultra-large images, CSS and other factors in eye-popping pages. In fact, one could say they’ve done well to create an experience that’s usable – Estee Lauder’s home page (pictured above) clocks in at 17 MB on desktops. That’s about 9 times the average in a field full of heavy pages!

The Retail Madness, Luxury Region Bracket Winner is LL Bean!

The winner of the Luxury Region was LL Bean, with a solid Customer Experience Index score of 64.0. Congratulations! The well-known retailer prevailed over the competitors becuase their user-centric site outperformed the other luxury brands. LL Bean had the lowest average weight for all tested pages. This proves that a lean, user-centric app will outperform flashier and function-heavy counterparts when it comes down to customer experience.

LL Bean is set to advance to the Retail Madness Final Four, but will they emerge as champions? We’ll be digging in much more in coming posts – stay tuned!

(Click here for a larger version of the bracket)

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