LONDON: Internet giant Amazon has topped a benchmark study looking at the digital customer experience in the UK, followed by department store Debenhams and fashion retailer Marks & Spencer.

The eChannel Retail Benchmark report from eDigitalResearch used a mystery shopper survey to assess the customer experience in ten retailers across key digital channels – including websites, mobile sites and apps – from first impressions to making a purchase.

Amazon achieved its number one spot thanks to its core multichannel functionality, said eDigitalResearch, which pointed in particular to the search and purchase sections of the customer journey.

Consumers liked the accurate and fast predictive text on keyword search, the extensive integrated customer reviews on product pages and the one-click purchase option.

Department store Debenhams was in second place, helped by a recent update to its site design, while Marks & Spencer, top in a previous study, slipped to third, let down by a site relaunch that scored poorly in terms of first impressions and the checkout stage.

John Lewis was in fourth spot, while Topman and ASOS tied in joint fifth. Then came, in order, House of Fraser, Topshop, New Look and finally Laura Ashley.

"Amazon have long led the field with their multichannel customer experience, introducing ideas such as predictive search text and one-click purchases," noted Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch.

A separate report last year by US-based ForeSee, a provider of customer experience analytics, also put Amazon at the head of an index rating customer experiences with global brands.

"While they still don't lead the way when it comes to design or first impressions," Eccleston continued, "Amazon clearly understand their customers – they know that people are often wanting to make purchases quickly and their digital channels more than deliver on this front."

The results also found that having a consistent customer experience across channels will keep customers returning – people who shop regularly with brands notice if a feature is missing when shopping via their mobile, for example.

One of the main challenges retail brands faced, eDigitalResearch said, was in optimising all features effectively without overcrowding or cluttering mobile sites or apps.

Data sourced from eDigitalResearch; additional content by Warc staff