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The wine club of the UK’s former national carrier British Airways has delivered a weakened performance online that has seen it hurtle down the table of the Top 25 UK drinks websites in February, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse.

It had held third place last month with a score of 5.48 out of 10 but in February it has only managed to score 1.98, which has pushed it down 21 places into 24th spot, with only the Sunday Times Wine Club placed below it.

To produce the rankings Sitemorse 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.

This serious decline has not affected the top two places in the table, with both Spar (UK) and Budgens holding on to the first and second spots respectively with scores of 5.91 and 5.54. Below them there has been lots of movement upwards as the table reflects the British Airways collapse.

The Whisky Shop moves into third spot and is followed by Bargain Booze and Aldi, which complete the top five places. Aldi continues to make a strong play in the drinks category, having launched its online wine store last month. Meanwhile, its rival Lidl, in eighth spot, has just announced that it is to extend its range to include a number of Hungarian and English Wines.

Just outside the top five, both Majestic Wine and The Drink Shop moved up three places, with the latter adding to the climb of eight places that it enjoyed in January. Other major movers this month are Laithwaites, which climbed three places to 20th spot and Fortnum & Mason, which is this month’s second biggest faller as it slipped four places to 11th spot.

F&M won’t have been helped by the general trend for recent online trading in the drinks sector. Total sales in January fell 2% on the back of Dry January, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This is the category’s weakest performance since February 2014. It has experienced a 2% fall compared with January 2015 and a hefty 65% decline on December’s results. Across all sector’s, total online sales grew by 15% year-on-year.

Londis and Sainsbury’s were both excluded from the Sitemorse testing this month because of their sites’ reliance on JavaScript.

Top UK Drinks Retail Websites – February 2016

Company Name                                  +/-       Score out of 10

  • Spar (UK)                                    same                 5.91
  • Budgens                                       same                 5.54
  • The Whisky Shop                    +1                        5.38
  • Bargain Booze                           +1                       5.32
  • Aldi                                                +1                       5.14
  • Majestic Wine                          +3                       3.66
  • The Drink Shop                      +3                        3.61
  • Lidl                                               same                   3.59
  • Oddbins                                     +2                        3.40
  • Morrisons                                 +2                        3.38
  • Fortnum & Mason                -4                          3.30
  • EH Booth & Co                        +1                         3.22
  • Tesco                                            +1                        3.20
  • Marks & Spencer                   +1                         3.20
  • Slurp.co.uk                               +1                         3.14
  • Selfridges                                   +1                         2.80
  • BEERmerchants.com           +1                        2.76
  • The Wine Society                    +1                        2.58
  • Naked Wines                            +1                         2.44
  • Laithwaites                               +3                         2.40
  • Virgin Wines                           same                    2.32
  • Asda                                            same                    2.14
  • Waitrose Cellar                      +1                          2.14
  • British Airways Wine Club -21                       1.98
  • Sun Times Wine Club          same                   1.89

Sitemorse has been advising its clients about how to improve their web presence for more than a dozen years and its technical team have fine-tuned the Sitemorse software engine so that it is capable of doing far more than just helping find problems. The company offers true digital insight to many large and small organisations in public and private sectors, as well as publishing regular unique INDEX benchmarks