5 Things You Can Learn From the Costco Website Redesign

Costco, the world’s seventh largest retailer, recently relaunched Costco.com with a new design and new features just in time for the holiday shopping season. Since its founding in 1983, Costco has had amazing growth in the retail space. Costco has built a loyal following of customers who love their mix of quality, price, service, and experience.

But until the redesign, the company’s online experience, which can be used by members only, was not up to par. Costco has made changes to their site, five of which are profiled below, to address these deficiencies.

1. Bigger Images.

People connect with pictures. They want to see what they are getting and trust it is the product they want before committing to make a purchase. It helps trigger the emotion and need to buy. Costco has also expanded its use of video in product descriptions. These types of changes enhance the user experience and increase sharability, with links to indicate a like on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, plus on Google+ and pin on Pinterest.

Costco Product Pictures

2. Less Cluttered.

“We’ve made changes based on extensive usability studies.”

– Ginnie Roeglin, Costco Senior Vice President of Ecommerce

Having white space on a website is important. The new Costco.com does a good job of this. You don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many products, but yet draw them and make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.

Costco has moved much of the non-sales related links such as customer service, company information, and the Costco Connection magazine to the bottom of the page, cleaning and priming the above the fold space for sales.

3. Mobile Ready.

With the tremendous growth in mobile device usage, companies need to be well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. Costco launched a new, free mobile app for smartphones and tablets during Summer 2012.

The app has such innovative features as speech to text, which allows you to dictate your shopping list to your phone, and voice search, to help the user easily find products by speaking into their device. It also has a QR code scanner, to allow in-store users to easily obtain more product information, and push notifications for the latest deals.

4. Easier Navigation.

Costco.com Navigation

Clear, easy to follow navigation is important for a site. With a site such as Costco, this is especially true as they literally offer tons of products and services. Costco has divided their core products and services into less than 30 categories above the fold on their home page, primarily on the left hand side that flies out to the right when hovered over revealing sub-menus containing dozens of sub-categories of products to choose from.

Since users scan and read from left to right, this new navigation structure is more intuitive and clean.

5. Sign up form Above the Fold.

Users are at different stages of the buying process. Not everyone is ready to buy but an important step is to capture the user’s information to continue to market to them, even if they don’t make a purchase. This is why Costco has an email sign up for offers form above the fold, in two places, on their home page.

Costco Email Sign Up Form

While I have focused on the positives of the new site and the takeaways from a design and usability perspective, there is also room for improvement especially with the more technical aspects of on-page SEO, as illustrated in this article by Erik Dafforn of IntraPromote. Overall, Costco has made significant improvements from a design and usability standpoint with the new website.

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