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Welcome to the inaugural Retailinsider.com monthly ‘Drinks Retail Website Index’ that ranks the Top 25 UK websites for drinks retailers, which has been produced exclusively by website testing specialist Sitemorse.

The objective is to give a cross-section of the category with the constituents comprising large grocers, pure-play operators, and specialist multi-channel retailers, that combines a mixture of transactional sites and those of a purely informational nature.

For this first month the Index is published on Retailinsider.com it is notable how strong the top two in the table perform – with both Spar (UK) and The Whisky Shop achieving credible scores of over seven out of 10, which website Sitemorse regards as a standard that all retailers should strive towards.

To produce the Top 25 Index the web firm runs automated software that page-by-page reads the first 125 pages of each website and analyses on the basis of six key criteria – function, code quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and SEO capability.

It is then a sharp drop to third-placed Budgens that is a full 0.9 points behind The Whiskey Shop. However, it is still some way ahead in scoring terms of many other players, with many big names putting in disappointing performances. In the bottom five are Marks & Spencer, EH Booth and The Sunday Times Wine Club.

The latter suffered the steepest fall with a drop of 14 places (since the sites were tested in March), with a score of only 2.05 out of 10. In contrast, the biggest rises of the month were Bargain Booze that leapt 10 places to sixth position and BEERMerchants.com that moved up 13 places. It represents a growing number of online-only operators that are providing tough competition to the existing high street players.

BEERMerchant.com’s growth is contributing to the ongoing strength of the beers, wines and spirits (BWS) category on the internet. The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reported a year-on-year jump in March of 13% and a month-on-month increase of 9% over February for BWS.

Top 25 Drinks Retail Websites – April 2012
Company Name                      +/-       Score out of 10
1.      Spar (UK)                    same   7.80
2.      The Whisky Shop         same   7.10
3.      Budgens                      +1        6.22
4.      Aldi                              +2       5.91    
5.      Fortnum & Mason -2        5.72
6.      Bargain Booze             +10       5.60
7.      Lidl                              same     5.19
8.      The Wine Society         same     4.82
9.      Iceland                         -4         4.49
10.  Sainsbury’s                  +1        4.22
11.  BeerMerchants.com    +13       4.14                
12.  Londis                          -2         4.02
13.  Naked Wines               +1        3.92
14.  Asda                            -1         3.46
15.  The Drink Shop            same    3.41
16.  Majestic Wine             -4         3.40
17.  Virgin Wines               +5        3.38
18.  Tesco                           same   3.28
19.  Selfridges                    -2         3.10
20.  Waitrose                     +1        3.10
21.  Marks & Spencer        -1         2.58
22.  EH Booth & Co          -3         2.48
23.  Sun Times Wine Club  -14       2.05
24.  Laithwaites                  -1         2.04
25.  Slurp.co.uk                  same   1.26
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