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Marks & Spencer has the most improved drinks website in August according to its progress up the table of the Top UK drinks sites tested during the month, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse, as it climbs 13 places into eighth spot.

The retailer achieved a score of 4.02 out of 10 compared with 2.94 in July when it stood in 21st spot in the table of 26 merchants that have drinks as part of their retail mix. It just beat The Whisky Shop to the most improved crown as the whisky specialist climbed 10 places into seventh spot.

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.

However, both M&S and The Whisky Shop were unable to make any impact at the top of the table where Budgens held on to its number one spot, with a score of 5.94, and British Airways Wine Club retained second spot, with 5.42.

It has been a month of great movement, with Fortnum & Mason climbing eight places to 10th spot, to regain some of the seven places it lost last month, and Asda moved up seven places to 17th spot.

There were also some serious casualties in August as BEERmerchants.com gave up most of the 14-place gain it enjoyed last month as it slipped 13 places to 21st spot this time, with a score of 2.60 versus 3.94 in July. Oddbins also crashed, with a decline of six places to 13th spot and Selfridges descended seven places to 22nd spot.

This placed the upmarket department store just above Laithwaites, which slipped four places to 23rd place – just out of the bottom three – and Naked Wines moved down into bottom position as it declined three places.

Such moves come at a time when online sales across all categories enjoyed strong year-on-year growth of 19% in July, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This is the highest yearly growth rate since November 2014 when Black Friday caused a surge. Disappointingly the only category not to deliver growth was Beers, wines and spirits, which suffered a decline of 1%.

The average basket value of goods bought online slipped to £78.39 compared with £80.34 in July 2015.

Top UK Drinks Retail Websites – August 2016

Company Name                                  +/-       Score out of 10

  • Budgens                                        same               5.94
  • British Airways Wine Club   same               5.42
  • Londis                                           +1                     4.84
  • Aldi                                                  -1                      4.72
  • Spar (UK)                                     +1                     4.46
  • Bargain Booze                            -1                      4.58
  • The Whisky Shop                      +10                  4.14
  • Marks & Spencer                      +13                   4.02
  • EH Booth & Co                           same               3.84
  • Fortnum & Mason                   +8                     3.78
  • Virgin Wines                               +1                     3.76
  • The Drink Shop                         -1                       3.72
  • Oddbins                                         -6                      3.60
  • Lidl                                                  -4                       3.41
  • Majestic Wine                             -2                       3.22
  • Morrisons                                     -2                       3.20
  • Asda                                                 +7                      3.14
  • The Wine Society                       +2                     3.04
  • Slurpco.uk                                     -3                      2.82
  • Sunday Times Wine Club        +2                    2.70
  • BEERmerchants.com              -13                    2.60
  • Selfridges                                        -7                      2.50
  • Laithwaites                                     -4                     2.34
  • Waitrose Cellar                            +1                     2.34
  • Tesco                                                +1                     1.56
  • Naked Wines                                 -3                     1.36

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.