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Myer vs David Jones: whose online store is better at eliciting action?

Technology & Data

Myer vs David Jones: whose online store is better at eliciting action?


There has been a bit of fuss recently over David Jones launching its online site, so it’s a good opportunity to size up whether DJs or Myer is hitting the mark from a shopper behaviour point of view.

My assessment looks at how each site influences their shopper to take action – I’ll leave it to others to compare range and aesthetics.

1. Display techniques to capture shopper imagination

A large part of the in store experience is being able to walk amongst the merchandise, letting your imagination meander as you consider an item. Online is a different experience and has to work harder to help the shopper imagine owning the item; making it ‘vivid’. Two things that help:

  • Use of model: including pictures of clothing on actual bodies rather than floating in a disembodied state can help shoppers see what its like ‘on’. Points to David Jones on this. David Jones 1 Myer 0.
  • Styled outfits: giving the shopper an idea of how things go together has the dual benefit of securing confidence that the item is versatile as well as suggesting an up sell. Despite using this technique in store through visual merchandising, neither store uses this technique online. David Jones 0, Myer 0.

2. Pricing techniques to influence purchase

We are used to walking through stores and seeing all sorts of price points and offers. The same techniques can be used online to help shoppers feel they are spending wisely. Techniques I was looking for:

  • Anchoring: listing a recommended retail price (RRP) alongside the sale price is standard retail practice because the higher price (the anchor) establishes the context for the marked down item. David Jones wins the cookies in this case because they list the RRP in red and crossed out for marked down items with the sale price immediately next to it. There is no confusion as to whether the deal is a good one. Myer on the other hand, carry a ‘sale’ icon (good) but list only one price on the browsing page (not good). The price turns out to be the sale price, but the shopper has to click through to work this out. David Jones 1 Myer 0.
  • Free delivery: if you want to get people buying online, ditch shipping charges. In general, shoppers hate paying for the services that accompany the product (like shipping and installation), and as Amazon discovered, will buy more if it means they qualify for free delivery. David Jones are promoting free delivery to all until 14 December and otherwise offering the service for free to card holders (an incentive to join). Myer seem to have a less onerous free shipping program – if you look hard enough – but are not making the most of it to influence shopper behaviour. Rather than going loud and proud with a blanket and permanent ‘free shipping’ policy (a la Zappos or The Book Depository), Myer are pandering to the few items that do not qualify and relying on the shopper to read the delivery tab under each item to work it out. While they include a ‘free shipping’ graphic on their banner ads, it is hard to read, does not link to their policy and makes it look temporary rather than a commitment to service. Neither store nails the power of free delivery, but Myer have a slight advantage. David Jones 0.5 Myer 1.

3. Behavioural cues to influence selection

When shoppers are confronted by choice, they look for cues to help their selection. Price is a big one, but here are a couple of other techniques:

  • Social influence: we gain confidence knowing that other people have or will approve of our decision. To help the shopper, cues like ‘best seller’ or ‘most popular’ can provide social reinforcement. In this vein David Jones use ‘Our pick’ whereas Myer do not, relying on customer reviews instead. David Jones 1 Myer 0.5.
  • Defaults: our tendency is to leave things as they are, and this extends to selections. In the absence of us making a deliberate choice, we default to whatever has been determined for us and Myer make much better use of this technique. For instance, the colour of an item is defaulted to the colour displayed, saving the shopper from having to make a selection. In contrast, David Jones require the shopper to select a colour even if there is only one available. Myer default the payment card type to their preferred Myer Visa whereas David Jones require selection. David Jones 0 Myer 1.

4. Navigation to influence transaction

Making the transaction easy to follow and complete is central to the experience. As Amazon has shown with their ‘1-Click’ transaction, making the process as short and sharp as possible reduces the chances of the shopper getting distracted.

  • Clear process: both stores use shopping bag/cart mechanisms that keep the shopper shopping until they are ready to transact, and both allow the shopper to view and edit their list as they need. I prefer David Jones’ three-step navigational guide (delivery-payment-order) to Myer’s more subtle ‘next’ process (my email-my address-my payment) because it more clearly indicates to shoppers how far they have progressed through the process. David Jones 1 Myer 0.5.
  • Sequence of tasks: Myer require fewer steps to be taken by their shoppers. While it’s a positive that David Jones offer a ‘guest checkout’ option for shoppers who do not wish to create an account, Myer support this same activity without breaking it out into a separate path. Similarly, Myer have made entering delivery and billing addresses much easier than David Jones who confront the shopper with over fifteen fields to complete on one page. David Jones 0 Myer 1.

5. Bits and pieces

  • Treatment of error messages: feeling like you’ve failed undermines your desire to interact with a site. David Jones’ error messages are technical rather than supportive and obscured at the top of the page rather than near the field that requires correction. Myer are more generous in guiding their shoppers through missteps. David Jones 0 Myer 1.
  • Secure payments: Myer include ‘secured by’ symbols in the payment process which serve to increase shopper confidence at the pointy end of the sale. David Jones do not. David Jones 0 Myer 1.
  • Online + offline: neither company makes use of its bricks and mortar presence as part of the online sale. For instance I would have loved to have seen opportunities to integrate the experience so that the shopper knows they can seamlessly work between both worlds (eg. ‘Expected delivery two days. Want it today? It’s available at X store…). David Jones 0 Myer 0.

The tally

Myer have the edge on David Jones with 6/11 vs 4.5/11 but I must say a few times through this exercise I forgot which site was which, and that sums up my thoughts on these two retail websites. Forgettable. Myer and David Jones have launched sites that are underwhelming and suggest they are there out of necessity rather than opportunity. The two department stores are used to competing with each other, where in the online space they are competing which much more sophisticated and engaging retailers such as Birdsnest.com.au and Topshop.com. There’s more to a behaviourally-effective website than listing your stock for sale, so I look forward to Myer and David Jones raising the bar from here.


Bri Williams

Bri Williams, a specialist in buying behaviour, helps businesses increase sales and marketing conversion through behavioural science. Follow Bri @peoplepatterns or visit peoplepatterns.com.au

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