The Bay Online Store Review – 5 Most Important Factors

Eradium theBay review blog burger

The Bay Online Store Review – 5 Most Important Factors

The Bay Online Store Review – Innovate or Die

Would you like some fries with that? The changing face of Canadian Department Stores.

In order to survive the new retail landscape, retailers must innovate and bring new ideas in order to compete with pure online stores. They need to bring the instore experience to the next level. One of those ideas we examine below which is the introduction of food at the stores. This is a great idea as hungry shoppers might just come for a burger but leave with a new coat.

This week we present The Bay online store review to see: how well the site performs, how easy it is to make a purchase and whether the price is right. You can read all about our eCommerce sites review framework and evaluation methods in this article:

Why Canadian Department Stores are Increasingly Adding Food and Beverage Components

Although restaurants were once common in downtown Canadian department stores, the flight to the suburbs resulted in fewer in-store restaurants in newer mall-based locations. Many of Hudson’s Bay’s current locations, for example, lack fine dining options, resulting in these stores becoming pure shopping destinations. Although Hudson’s Bay recently introduced some exceptional food options to its downtown flagships, most suburban locations continue to lack prepared food and drink options. Sears Canada is another example of a department store chain without restaurant and café options, instead focusing on selling merchandise and services.

Although Target’s recently-shuttered Canadian operations featured licensed Starbucks shops-in-stores, many loyal Zellers shoppers lamented at the loss of Zellers’ in-store restaurants. Although lacking glamour, Zellers’ restaurants acted as destination gathering places, particularly for seniors, adding an element of convenience and socialization to Zellers’ stores. (1)

Retailers in Canada that make the most money

In fact, according to the International Council of Shopping Centres (yes, that’s a real thing), sales at Canadian malls averaged $673 per square foot of retail space over the past 12 months, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier.

In fact, according to the International Council of Shopping Centres (yes, that’s a real thing), sales at Canadian malls averaged $673 per square foot of retail space over the past 12 months, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier.
That compares to US$475 per square foot in the U.S., which means that adjusted for currency, Canadian retailers sell about 12 per cent more than American retailers per square foot.

According to data compiled by commercial real estate agency CBRE, Vancouver’s Lululemon had the highest sales per square foot of any Canadian retailer in 2013. It raked in an impressive $2,961 per square foot, or four times the national average.
But that pales in comparison to Apple, whose popular (and pricey) electronics mean its stores earned a massive $7,241 per square foot. No wonder Apple is the world’s most valuable company.

So who had the lowest sales among Canadian retailers? That would be Target Corp., which earned a sad $98 per square foot. Ouch. Can’t blame them for packing up and leaving.
Check out this chart of the retailers in Canada that make the most money. Data from the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA), via CBRE. (2)

Eradium theBay review blog RETAIL SALES CANADA

About The Bay

Hudson’s Bay (formerly and still colloquially known as The Bay) is a chain of 90 department stores that operate exclusively in Canada. It is the main brand of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), North America’s oldest company. It has its headquarters in the Simpson Tower in Toronto. n French, the chain is known as la Baie d’Hudson (formerly la Baie), short for “Compagnie de la Baie”. The chain uses both the English and French versions of the name in some parts of the country.

The stores are full-line department stores, with a focus on high-end fashion apparel, accessories, and home goods. Price points at Hudson’s Bay are comparable to U.S. retailers Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom. The average store size is 135,000 square feet (12,500 m2).

Flagship downtown stores are located in Canada’s largest cities, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, often being multi-storey, historic buildings and carry an extensive range and selection of goods than regular Hudson’s Bay stores. The largest of the flagship stores is the Toronto store on Queen Street, at about 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2). Toronto has another smaller store along the Mink Mile at Bloor Street East and Yonge Street in the Hudson’s Bay Centre. (3)

You also can read our review about The Bay marketing campaigns in one of our previous articles:

The Bay Online Store Review

Our evaluation framework takes into consideration the following five factors:

  1. Functional features of the site
  2. Cognitive factor – perceived conscious efforts to complete a purchase
  3. Emotional appeal of the site
  4. Product selection
  5. Price competitiveness


All features will be rated from 1* to 5* scores, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

1.   Functional Factor

Features and functionality that create an ideal shopping experience for consumers.

Eradium ecommerce review fail mark

Home Page

Eradium theBay review blog home page

1 . eCommerce Platform Fit – SCORE: 3.0 store runs on the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform that is one of the top 3 in the Gartner ‘s E-Commerce Magic Quadrant for March 2016.   The user interface design is not optimized for the touch screen  and it is not mobile  friendly.

2. The site speed performance – SCORE: 3

The website desktop speed performance is close to the industry average but it is slower than 50 leading eCommerce and self-service websites.  The web pages speed is below the average on mobile devices.

Eradium theBay review blog site speed report card

3.    Mobile Friendly – SCORE: 2

The site is not mobile friendly at all. The main navigation items are not easily clickable, fonts are small and hard to read. The site is not responsive or has a separate mobile interface.

Mobile Product Page

Eradium theBay review blog mobile

4.    Search – SCORE: 3

The search is not easy to navigate. It displays too many categories and very few filters in order to find what you are looking for in the shortest amount of time.

Eradium theBay review blog search results

5. Real-Time Inventory – SCORE: 0

There is no such functionality on the site.

Product Page

Eradium theBay review blog product page

6. Zoom Feature – SCORE: 3

The site features Basic Zoom functionality that allows having a closer look at the product when using the mouse-over functionality.

7. Product Comparisons – SCORE: 0

There is no such functionality on the site.

8. Live Chat –  SCORE: 0

There is no such functionality on the site.

9. Product Demos – SCORE: 0

There is no such functionality on the site.

10. Product Description – SCORE: 4

Very useful information about sizing included. It allows selecting a size based on your previous shopping. This is one of the best tools for clothing as often sizes vary from one manufacturer to next.

There is pretty basic information about the product. There is no information on care or type of material the product is made from.

11. Cross-sell popular and related products – SCORE: 2

There are only the products that viewed by others. There is no intelligent filter that recommends products.

Check Out Process

Eradium theBay review blog checkout

12. Payment Options –  SCORE: 4

Eradium theBay review blog payment page

There is a large variety of payments available to please the different types of buyers.

13. Express Checkout – SCORE: 4

Eradium theBay review blog express checkout

14. Security – SCORE: 4

There is a security certificate indication on the checkout process.


15. Order Tracking – SCORE: 4

You may sign in for your Order History at any time. Information about your open orders, tracking, and past orders are available.

16. Past Order Display – SCORE: 4

Easy to view and purchase past products.

17. Favorite products  – SCORE: 0

There is no such functionality on the site.

18 . Communication preferences  – SCORE: 3.5

You can select what type of products you are interested in receiving communication from, such as beauty, men, etc.

19. Wish List/Registry – SCORE: 4

You can add products to your wish list and even share on your Facebook page.


2. Cognitive Factor

A retail website must be easy to navigate and help visitors find relevant information quickly. Knowing your audience is the key to creating an effective site by combining the right elements that appeal to your shoppers.

Site Structure and Information Architecture

Eradium theBay review blog site navigation

1. Search – SCORE: 4

The site search engine understands natural language expressions like “red kettle” or “brown men shoes” and displays relevant results.  A shopper may refine the search result by brand or price range.

Eradium theBay review blog search

2. Site Navigation – SCORE: 3

The contrast is low between the navigation items and the drop menu. Some of the menu items  are in the gray font on the light gray background are low contrast and hard to read.

3. Alternate Views – SCORE: 2

Alternate Views are very basic, most products do not even have more than one view.

4. Visual Cues- SCORE: 3

There is not enough visual contrast to bring the shopper’s attention to various important messages through the site. The site mostly uses variants of gray fonts and buttons, without any areas that stand out.


3. Emotional Factor

Website’s Emotional connection with the target market

1. Show Products on Human Models – SCORE: 2

There is no consistency to the product shots. Some images are with models, some do not show their faces and some are just product shots.

Eradium theBay review blog product images

2. Quality of Image- SCORE: 2

The quality of images is average but due to lack of consistency there is not unified look to the product images.

3. Share Buttons – SCORE: 3

The site has very basic functionality, basic sharing through Tweeter, Google+,  and Facebook.

4. Email a Friend’ Button- SCORE: 0

This functionality is not present on the site.

5. Consumer Reviews- SCORE: 4

Are well done, has sizing and age for all the reviews. It also allows the user to filter the reviews based on these criteria so that they can only read the reviews relevant to them.

6. Make it easy to call you –  SCORE: 2

It is difficult to find. Use has to find a link to another page that features the phone number.


3. Product Selection

Variety of Products

It is critical to have a variety of products that you specialize in, whether it is a specific category or type of product.

Product availability

1.    Color options – SCORE: 3

There is the basic control for color selection on the product page.

2.    Size options –  SCORE: 3

There is the basic control for size selection on the product page. There is no clear indication if the products are in stock or not.


5. Price Factor

Is it Amazon Competitive?

Random sample of 4 products:

2 Slice Toaster

The Bay – $89.99

Eradium theBay review bay price toster

Amazon – $64.99

Eradium theBay review Amazon price toster


The Bay $99.99

Eradium theBay review Bay price juicer

Amazon – $89.99

Eradium theBay review Amazon price juicer


The Bay $89.99

Eradium theBay review Bay price blender

Amazon – $65.91

Eradium theBay review Amazon price blender

Men’s Watch

The Bay – $200.00

Eradium theBay review Bay price watch

Amazon – $169.00

Eradium theBay review Amazon price watch


The site is very basic for a leading department store in Canada and does not impress. It does not have any of the modern features such as the in-store pick-up or even a proper mobile store. This site would have been leading edge in 2006.

5 top recommendations for The Bay in 2016:

radium-ecommerce-review- Check-mark
  1. Create a proper mobile store
  2. Introduce omnichannel experience
  3. Have unified product images including multiple product shots.
  4. Embrace Pinterest and Instagram product sharing options
  5. Have a better “welcome email”. It is just too boring.


  1. Why Canadian Department Stores are Increasingly Adding Food and Beverage Components,
  2. These Are The Retailers Making The Most Money In Canada,
  3. Hudson’s Bay (retailer),
Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.