QVM's website sucks for shopping. As the digital age matures into a useful aid for consumers it is important to offer facilities that make you competitive, and one of the world's great markets just doesn't achieve that. But maybe a website isn't the answer anyway.
A couple of years ago we published an article about the inadequacies of the QVM website's search facility. When you typed "socks" into the search box it came up with an article on horseradish that "knocks your socks off". Conspiracy theories about QVM's neglect of anything non-food were given a real boost. Things have improved a little and when you type in "socks" now you get the following entries -
1. An article on the 25 days of Christmas which presumably contains reference to socks.
2. An article on the Traders Giveaway of December 2014 which also presumably includes a mention of socks.
3. Bruce Goose - a sock seller.
4. Father's Day 2014
5. A photo of a horseradish - yep, that is still there.
If you were looking for socks at QVM you would not be impressed. But it is not just that the search facility isn't fine tuned enough to be shopper relevant, it is the sluggishness of the whole operation that will deter the most patient shopper. All entries are graphically intensive and individually they look quite magnificent but you can make a cup of coffee while you wait for them to download (this might be due to my local internet service) and impatient shoppers just want the information not the pretty pictures. Dare we say that this is a website designed by designers with little regard for their intended audience – the shoppers.
Let's try another category - "shoes". Here is what the search will bring up -
1. Binder Enterprises - sheepskin footwear.
2. A Plus Market - presumably mentions shoes in the article.
3. Radical Yes - a footwear trader although it wasn't clear where they operate from - presumably on Therry St?
4. A Plus Market - yep, another entry for this market.
5. A Plus Market - again.
6. Ausfireopals - presumably selling opal footwear.
You can see our point. This is not a shopper friendly website. In fairness to the designers, it does a good job of informing on events and giving a general overview of market operations.
But back to our opening paragraph and the suggestion that "maybe a website isn't the answer anyway". Contemporary business discussion does question whether a website should be the number one gateway to a retail business. A professional shoppers website can be very valuable, but increasingly apps are providing the functionality that shoppers and retailers are looking for. A professionally written app can provide enhanced interaction, with a website being just a source of general information.
So the choices would appear to be a slick, professional website that meets all the customer’s needs or a slick, professional app with a website as an adjunct. QVM has neither, and it is time that inadequacy was corrected.
By Greg Smith