SiteLines: Canadiantire.ca

In this regular feature, Strategy Direct + Interactive asks an interactive marketing expert to give us their candid assessment of a Web site selected by us. This month, Jon Lax, creative director at Toronto-based digital marketing agency Modem Media Canada, tells...

In this regular feature, Strategy Direct + Interactive asks an interactive marketing expert to give us their candid assessment of a Web site selected by us. This month, Jon Lax, creative director at Toronto-based digital marketing agency Modem Media Canada, tells us what he thinks of the new Canadiantire.ca e-commerce Web site.

Description:

In November, the venerable hard goods retailer Canadian Tire went live with its first Web-based e-commerce site, launching with a product offering of more than 5,000 of the items it carries in its nationwide retail network, including automotive, sports, leisure and home goods. An admitted late comer to Web-based retailing, Canadian Tire first dipped its toes into Internet waters more than three years ago when it introduced its e-Flyer online advertising program, which informs customers via a weekly e-mail about in-store sales and promotions. Although the e-Flyer is still going strong, the new $20-million Web site allows consumers to search for items by product or lifestyle categories, ask for gift suggestions and scout for items that are on sale. By registering on the site’s ‘My Canadian Tire’ section, customers will be able to personalize the site so that it highlights products that match their preferences, as well as give them the added benefit of online order tracking, express check-out, and the ability to earn Canadian Tire Money online.

Jon Lax, Creative Director, Modem Media Canada

The site is clearly a first effort, as it is short on overall maturity in design and user friendliness. It lacks what has become standard functionality in better-designed e-commerce sites – features such as consumer reviews, product recommendations and educational articles showing how to get the most out of the products being sold.

The site design, too, is somewhat wanting. For instance, the ‘Add to Shopping Cart’ button took me a while to find because it was hidden under the navigation bar on the left side of the screen. And, for some reason, the site requests your postal code when you first click off of the home page. Yet, when I went to check out, I was asked again for my postal code. Didn’t I already tell them that?

One nice feature is that you can earn Canadian Tire money when you make an online purchase. A tally of your Canadian Tire money is saved on the site and you can use it when you check out.

Great idea!

Visually, the site is about what I would expect from Canadian Tire but a few things were not

done well. First, the graphics are not well produced – they’re really jagged and crunchy. The Canadian Tire logo is orange for some reason. Text doesn’t line up in places, product shots are inconsistent and there is very little information about the products.

I applaud those responsible for what must have been a Herculean task. I’m sure a lot of things were rushed – graphics and product descriptions – to get everything ready for the holiday season. However, I hope Canadian Tire continues to refine and improve the site, because they’ve only taken the first step toward creating a site that will truly meet consumer expectations and get Canadians to start purchasing online.