Monday, 23 May 2011

Compare and contrast: Radley

British accessories brand Radley claims on its website that its “love for hand-crafted, distinctive designs is reflected in all of our products, as is our slightly eccentric Britishness!” We’ve often written about the appeal of British brands to American consumers. Julian Granville of apparel retailer Boden once said that in the US, Boden makes a point of “turning up the Britishness on the dial” to help distinguish the brand from local apparel catalogues. So how does Radley translate its appeal on its website? Let’s take a closer look…

Radley’s UK website is at, while its USA website is This tactic is also applied by apparel cataloguer Wrap, which in the UK is found at, while US customers shop through I assume this is because was already taken by a Michigan-based supplier of supply-chain software. Nonetheless, for me works as a domain name as it actually strengthens the brand’s British appeal. American customers shopping for Radley may be more enamoured with a brand that’s more clearly linked with London.

The page name is also different. In the UK, Radley is known as “Radley London :: Luxury Handbags, Purses, Luggage, Gifts and Accessories – Official Store”. The US page data reads: “Radley London Official US Store :: Luxury Handbags, Wallets, Luggage, Gifts and Accessories – Official Store”. The reiteration of the word official may suggest that Radley suffers from copycat sites. In my opinion the second mention of Official Store adds nothing and should be removed. Doing so reduces the meta title to fewer than 100 characters, which is much more in line with best-practice. I also noticed that Radley doesn’t include the word purses on its US page title—is this because of the confusion of the meaning of the word purse, which in the UK means ladies wallet, but in the US means handbag?

Radley's UK website
On the home front
The Radley UK and US home pages look very similar, but you’ll notice that the UK site (above) has more product categories. Most notably, the US website (below) does not stock Radley’s shoe range. In addition, the US site, in contrast to the UK, does not sell gift cards. You’d think that electronic gift cards would be easy to implement, so it’s strange that this option isn’t available in the States. It would seem an ideal gift for a UK resident to purchase for an Anglophile friend living in the USA—for start because there wouldn’t be any shipping costs involved.

Radley's US website
I like, however, that the company has thought about prices. On the UK Radley website the Gift Shop tab promotes gifts starting at less than £25. On the US website, prices start at $50. Once again, all instances of the word purse have been changed to wallet.

Visitors to the UK website will also notice that the home page image rotates between a nautical-themed scene that’s also on the home page of the American site, and a call to shop Radley’s canvas bag range. In contrast, the US site stays static for no apparent reason. The offers on home pages are different too. The UK site promotes a mid-season sale, while the US site has a “buy 2 get 1 free” offer prominently displayed in the top right corner. Radley also chooses to promote different ranges to its international customers. The Grosvenor design gets two mentions on the US home page, suggesting this might be one of its best-selling items overseas. This is further reinforced by the accompanying copy that states “Grosvenor is back…” as though popular US demand had called for its reintroduction.

Curiously, the Discover Radley tab on the home page has been slimmed down for US consumers. I would have thought American customers would need more brand-building copy than their UK counterparts. Gone are the Collection and Your Stories sections, leaving the US customers access to News, As Seen In, About Us, and Our Handbags. Not entirely sure why Radley dropped these two categories. It would make sense to also allow American customers to share their Radley experiences on the website and make Radley a truly global brand. The UK prize is a gift card, so that may restrict US customers, but I am sure Radley could credit the winning customer with $200 towards their next purchase.

Neither site displays a phone number on the home page, but a click through to the Contact Us page displays different information depending on the region the customer is from.  US customers can call local number, as well as contact the UK head office.

Grosvenor Medium Across Body UK
Perusing product
From the home page I picked the Purses category on the UK site and the Wallets category on the US website to compare more closely. Each click took me to an identically laid-out product category page. From there I chose the Plain Sailing large wallet. At time of writing, the UK site had the purse on sale, down from £75 to £53. The US site still had it at $120, roughly equal to £75. The copy for each wallet was the same, and each site included links to bookmark, print, and share the product. Strangely, the UK version of the purse has 10 likes on Facebook. The US version has none. Similarly absent on the US site are product reviews. For the Grosvenor Medium Across Body Bag, for example, the UK site has eight reviews (above), where the US equivalent has none (below). In fact, having browsed the site extensively, I struggled to find five product reviews on the US website. Against each product is a clear call to action to submit a review, so either American customers aren’t interested in reviewing Radley’s products, or Radley isn’t interested in publishing their comments.  Where Radley does get top marks is in sizing. In the US, each bag and wallet has its dimensions described in inches.

Grosvenor Medium Flapover Across Body US

Overall, the US site is just as cleanly designed at its UK counterpart and features all of the same functionality. A little more uniformity is needed when it comes to user-generated content though. I would also like to see a bigger story made of Radley’s Britishness on the US website. As it’s a fairly new brand—just 13 years old—it doesn’t have the heritage of, say, a retailer like Smythson, so it may need a little more differentiation to make it stand out--MT

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