The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

Our Annual Retail Website Performance Evaluation Is Out: Who Won? And Why?

Membership: Unknown
Status: Unknown
Private: FALSE


For the past several years, RSR analysts have evaluated retailers’ online digital offerings. The evaluations serve as a report card for “how are retailers doing?” We believe that this year’s report card is more important than ever. Why?

This year’s report is a little different, with retailers headed into a holiday season like no other in history. Last year we conducted our research during a global lockdown, and chided retailers to get their website offerings in order to successfully handle the onslaught of shopping that had moved online when visiting stores were simply not an option. Just a year later, stores are back in the picture, but with a twist.  But while retailers who have modified their store systems and processes to accommodate digital order fulfillment in stores in a remarkably short period of time deserve kudos, consumers’ behaviors have changed. The COVID-19 pandemic forced even the staunchest of old-school-store shoppers to incorporate digital assets into their shopping journeys, and the results are in: they’re never going back.

To compound matters, disruptions to the global supply chain have made products – of all stripes and sizes – difficult to find. As a result, even more consumers are turning to online shopping.

Hence the importance of this year’s research.

Retailers need to make the online shopping journey as effortless as possible – from the speed at which a website loads to the ease of product discovery to the checkout process and payment options – all are more important than ever this year. And while certain criteria remain from previous years’ research to mark progress (product detail page load time, for example), others are entirely brand new for this year’s evaluation (for example, the ability to shop a retailer’s offerings on Facebook). 

The good news? Retailers are making steady progress. The bad? They’re not doing it quickly enough to keep up with consumer expectations.


Average Score

High Score














So who won? Here’s the podium:

  • 1st: J Crew (54 points, 83% score, School Rank of B)
  • 2nd (Tie): Ascena Retail Group (50 points, 77% score, School Rank of C+)
  • 2nd (Tie): Land’s End (50 points, 77% score, School Rank of C+)
  • 2nd (Tie): Fashion Nova (50 points, 77% score, School Rank of C+)
  • 2nd (Tie): Express (50 points, 77% score, School Rank of C+)
  • 3rd (Tie): Ralph Lauren (49 points, 75% score, School Rank of C)
  • 3rd (Tie): 1-800 Contacts (49 points, 75% score, School Rank of C)

And while we congratulate our winners for a job well done, we spend a great deal of the full report explaining exactly what J Crew AND the rest of our top performers do so differently. What’s surprising is that for many, top points are earned not just due to how their site performs, but in how engaging it is in both design and function (It’s amazing how many sites are still plagued by popups and broken links. Yikes).

We hope you take the time to read the report – and see how your own brand fared!

Newsletter Articles December 7, 2021
Related Research