Besides my family, friends, constant electricity and water, and fast and cheap Internet, I truly miss Trader Joe’s when living abroad! From “Two Buck Chuck” wine to precooked, frozen edamame for $1.69, nothing beats Trader Joe’s in my opinion. It’s not just the high quality-to-price ratio that TJ offers, but it’s the friendly staff and health conscious, unique items supplied by the store.
For those of you who don’t have the privilege of living near a Trader Joe’s and have not heard of it, TJ is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered California. Today, the chain has more than 350 stores nationwide with about half of them in southern California (I’m a California native so TJ is like my Publix).
So let’s check out whether Trader Joes’ online presence is as cool as its in-store experience. Here goes my Trader Joe’s website deconstruction.
1) I’m seeing the “Trader Joe’s” logo or at least its text logo three times in the header portion or top of the page. I think it’s a bit excessive. I only need to see it once to know that I’m on the right webpage.
2) I immediately notice that there is no general search bar. Instead there is a search bar to locate a branch via postal code. Since Trader Joe’s offers hundreds of products I believe it’d be worthwhile to put a product search bar so customers can easily search for the item they are looking for and find the nutrition information and perhaps some recipes.
3) There is no social media links anywhere on the homepage. No Twitter, Facebook, or blog links. I think in today’s world and because Trader Joe’s tends to attract educated, new age customers, it would benefit the company immensely to have this social media tools activated. If Trader Joe’s wanted to feature a new product, it would be a perfect place to create some buzz.
4) The “Bookmark and Share” button in the right-hand corner is not big enough. Moreover, I think it doesn’t serve its purpose. Once the mouse hovers on it you have options to Tweet about the page or share it on Facebook. It is taking up such a small corner of space that I think people would miss it. Further, I’d prefer not having to hover over it and would like to see the actual Twitter, Facebook, etc. icons displayed on the page.
5) I like that everything is above the fold. The main page is not content heavy and doesn’t require any scrolling down.
6) Several years after launching their website, and more than half a decade since they launched their first store, Trader Joe’s still does not provide online orders. Customers can only buy items in-person. To be aligned with today’s changing times I believe that TJ should take advantage of their web space and offer online orders. They offer tea, coffee, vitamins, pet food, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, and other dry products that pose no limited expiry date or shipping issues so I really don’t understand why TJ does not provide online retail services.
7) I’m familiar with TJ’s weekly flier and newsletter and I like that they are sticking to one rustic theme, which is also similar to the interior design of their stores and the t-shirts staff members wear. However, I think the images in the header and down below clutter the page. Also, I’m a huge fan of simple, clean websites so I’d like to see it with a white background.
8) I notice that there is a lot of space on the right and left side panels; basically unused space. I think they could use it a variety of ways such as listing their latest news, press releases, or maybe market their items with some powerful in-house ads.
9) There is no advertising on the page. As I mentioned in point #8, the space could be used for advertising. Trader Joe’s tends to re-label items with their own brand but in some cases they bring in items that are non-TJ, such as Cliff Bars and Fage Yogurt. Perhaps, those brands could use that space to market their items. Or TJ could list their specials of the week in that space.
10) I’m confused by their “On the Counter” section. Even as a loyal TJ customer, I have no idea what these counter products are all about. It should be better explained.
11) I notice that users do not log in and can only browse the site. I think having a more interactive site might be beneficial. For example, users could save recipes in their own account folder or share recipes with others. Or perhaps chat with other TJ lovers. The options are endless if TJ offered its customers with membership to their site and allowed for some interaction.
12) The “Home” and “Products and Guides” header tabs don’t have drop down menus. I find that strange when the other ones do. Plus, I think as a user, I’d rather go directly to the page I’m looking for rather than click on the main tab and then search through that page to get to where I want to browse. Perhaps this is a marketing tool so that users must see the main Home page and main Products and Guides page?!
So that’s my deconstruction of the Trader Joe’s website. Yes, I have a lot of constructive criticism for their web team, but it’s only so they can have a website that is just as strong as their overall brand. And still, 5000+ miles away from any branch, TJ is one of my favorite grocery stores by far!