Skip to main contentSkip to navigationSkip to search


Shop Direct accelerates testing programme with in-house UX lab

May 8, 2014

Shop Direct, the UK’s leading multi-brand digital retailer, is aiming to treble the number of tests it runs on its websites within 18 months, after opening an in-house user experience (UX) lab.

The UX lab is a permanent facility situated in Shop Direct’s head office in Speke, Liverpool. Its aim is to help the etail giant to improve its understanding of how customers struggle and succeed on its websites, and how it can make its products more easily accessible. Through a user-centred design process, the lab will also act as a space to collaborate and innovate on existing features and future web technologies.

Shop Direct has invested £100,000 to develop the facility and it will pay for itself within 12 months.

Jonathan Wall, ecommerce director at Shop Direct, said: “The customer is at the heart of our business at Shop Direct, and every decision is taken with her in mind. This customer-centric approach naturally extends to our user experience design and experimentation process. We draw on a comprehensive UX research toolkit to assess the ways our customers shop our websites, from card sorting and usability testing to surveys and ethnography.

“But as a pureplay etailer, what we were lacking until recently was the ability to observe and interact regularly with our customers face-to-face. So in mid-2013, in line with our vision to become a world class digital retailer, we took the decision to design and create a custom-built, in-house UX lab, incorporating new technologies such as eye tracking and live recording to add to our toolkit.”

The key objectives of the UX lab were to upscale the volume of quality usability sessions running each month and to bring Shop Direct’s people even closer to its customers. Having a UX research facility on-site in its head office allows Shop Direct to, quite literally, place the customer at the centre of the business in a way that etailers typically struggle to achieve.

When it came to designing and building the lab, there was little industry best practice to follow, with no other UK retailer having a similar facility in-house. Shop Direct therefore looked primarily to the technology and gaming industries for learnings.

The lab itself comprises two rooms – the customer room, a relaxing space where customers can carry out tasks set by Shop Direct’s usability researchers. The viewing room then provides a space from which to observe customer behaviour through one-way glass, as well as to debate, collaborate and innovate.

Jonathan Wall continued: “Having the UX lab on-site has acted as a catalyst for the acceleration of our testing and experimentation programme. Since opening the lab earlier this year, we’ve doubled the number of monthly lab studies that we undertake. We’ve also more than doubled the number of split and multivariate tests running across our six transactional websites every month, from 15 to 35.

“By the end of this year, we’ll be launching more challenger tests on our websites in a month than the majority of our competitors aim to achieve in a year. And by October 2015, we’ll be running 100 tests every month on our sites – a massive leap forward on our journey to world class.”



Lauren Young                            0844 292 4799  


Shop Direct is the UK’s leading multi-brand digital retailer, with annual sales of £1.7 billion. Our digital department store brands include, and and receive an average of 880,000 website visits every day.

We exist to make good things easily accessible to more people. With our department store range, unique financial services offer and market-leading ecommerce and technology capabilities, we’re well placed to deliver on this promise.

We sell more famous brands than any other UK retailer, including big name labels and our own exclusive brands, and deliver 46 million parcels each year to five million active customers.

For more information on Shop Direct, visit or follow us on Twitter @ShopDirect.