Thanks to lockdown, the weekly shop has radically changed. Research reveals almost half of grocery shoppers are buying more or started buying online since the outbreak, with online grocery sales predicted to grow by 40% in 2020 alone.
Deliveries are now a lifeline for many families, with several big brands boosting their services in this area to meet demand. But what about their websites? Without an easy-to-use digital store front, it could be difficult or even impossible for some users to access their sites and get a weekly shop.
Because online shopping is now more important than ever, we have chosen three of the largest UK supermarket sites and assessed their performance in three key areas: accessibility, compatibility and usability. The winner of this battle is the one that performs the best across all of these areas. Here’s what we discovered.
The Accessibility Battle
Accessibility is fundamental for online success. At Digivante, we perform accessibility testing to cover issues that may prevent or discourage disabled users who require accessibility features when using or purchasing from your site. More specifically, individuals must be able to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with a website with ease.
For this assessment, we ranked the supermarket sites based on five key areas: Controls and Forms, Design and Usability, Interaction, Structure and Layout, and Multimedia Accessibility.
We normally use a range of test cases when we conduct accessibility tests. For this specific assessment, we chose one specific test case and ran it against each homepage of the supermarket big-three.
Asda came out top, scoring a perfect 5/5 with no issues raised against any of the tests. However, Sainsbury’s and Tesco both failed on 2/5 tests.
For Sainsbury’s, the website’s Structure and Layout failed on two counts – with one missing title and four errors around low contrast levels, which can make it difficult for visually impaired people to access the site.
For Tesco’s Controls and Forms, we found errors on the site’s forms, including missing labels and empty buttons. The website also failed for its Design and Usability too, where the main banners and some navigation links could not be observed, and other messaging issues occurred when CSS was turned off.
- Result: Asda is the clear winner in the accessibility stakes, with both Sainsbury’s and Tesco failing on two counts. One of Tesco’s issues relates to an AA standard, which is best practice but now a legal requirement. So, we ranked Tesco second and placed Sainsbury’s in third place.
The Compatibility Battle
Compatibility tests check that a website performs as expected across a range of devices and platforms. For this assessment, we selected five popular smartphone devices and four web browsers, running the same test case for each of the supermarket sites. The test case covered a guest user navigating to the homepage and then accessing the groceries section of the site.
Sainsbury’s and Tesco both scored a perfect 9/9, where their homepages and groceries pages loaded across all nine tests with no reported issues. Asda scored an impressive 8/9, but its groceries page did not display in Internet Explorer 11.
- Result: we ranked Sainsbury’s and Tesco joint first, placing Asda in third place.
The Usability Battle
Usability testing assesses the user experience of a website, allowing you to reflect the needs of real users with a smooth and convenient online service, which is linked to your brand.
This is more difficult to quantify, compared to the previous two assessments. So, we asked five testing experts to review the same user journey across each of the supermarket sites.
In this case, the user journey comprised a guest user navigating the homepage and accessing the groceries section. We then analysed this experience against the heuristic principles defined by computer scientist Jakob Nielsen to help users achieve their objectives when using a website.
Sainsbury’s reported the lowest number of issues, only 4/10. There were issues translating the online experience into the real world (where random product search results and booking a delivery slot caused issues). Further problems were found when accessing the site’s online services as a guest, compared to a logged in user.
For Asda, 7/10 issues were uncovered, where users had no indication of their place in the queue when trying to access the site during peak times, and certain pieces of functionality caused confusion.
Tesco also logged 7/10 issues, where limited filtering options and items per page, and a shortage of help documentation were reported.
- Result: Sainsbury’s ranked first, Tesco second and Asda third. Although both Tesco and Asda had seven principles impacted, the testers logged eight issues for Tesco and nine for Asda.
And the winner is…
Both Sainsbury’s and Tesco averaged the same score across all of these tests. However, Sainsbury’s won 2/3 battles, giving it a slight edge and making it the winner in our battle of the supermarket sites website wars.
This is a limited example of the breadth of testing services we offer at Digivante, but it highlights the myriad of issues today’s websites must take into account to win the ever-discerning online shopper over.