Website of the Week: SkyMall – 17/01/08

Website of the Week
Content (0-4):
Pricing (0-2):
Navigation (0-4):
Style/Design (0-4):
Supplementary information (0-2):
Overall incentive to shop (0-4):
Total (0-20):
Scoring system explained – click here

Website of the Week: SkyMall

US. SkyMall, the US-based distributor of inflight catalogues, features products from leading direct marketers and manufacturers through its SkyMall catalogue and website,

According to the company, the quarterly SkyMall catalogue is seen by approximately 88% of all domestic air passengers, reaching more than 650 million air travellers annually. It is also found in hotel rooms, airport lounges and on some international flights.

Founded in 1990 by Bob Worsley, SkyMall is owned by New York-based private equity fund Spire Capital Partners and The Greenspun Corporation. The company’s offices are located in Phoenix, Arizona.


SkyMall’s website comes across as clean-cut and professional, with its crisp white background and neat fonts. The tail of a plane, in SkyMall’s signature red and white colours, stands out against a backdrop of blue skies and white clouds – a reminder that SkyMall is a dedicated inflight retailer.

Clear images are found throughout the site, offering a good balance to the text; thumbnails can also be enlarged using the “˜magnify picture’ function. Unlike many other websites, SkyMall uses images that feature the products being used: a golden retriever is shown resting on a Coolaroo dog bed (US$19.99-US$29.99) and a teenage boy is shown banging away on an electronic drum kit (US$149.99). These professionally staged photos add a personal touch and provide an incentive to shop.

Content and usability

Right under the image of the tail of the plane is a link to “˜Explore SkyMall’s New Arrivals’. The eye-catching placement of this link ensures that users are directed to the site’s most interesting items. Another high-interest section is “˜Hot Items’, placed prominently on the right side of the home page.

The home page is neatly segmented into three navigation areas: across the top, in the middle and across the bottom. The navigation panels across the top and bottom of the page remain rooted throughout the site.

The top navigation panel contains links to everything a user might need to shop on the site: a shopping cart, wishlist, “˜e-Reminders’, and a link to login to a personal account to view order status. Gift cards ranging from US$25 to US$100 are also available for users who do not know what to buy for their loved ones.

An e-Reminder is a little note from SkyMall reminding users of an event. Users can add products to their e-Reminders so they know what to buy; items can be saved easily to these e-Reminder lists while shopping. SkyMall will also make product recommendations – a perfect complement to the shopping experience.

Besides all these, the top navigation panel also provides links for users to request the SkyMall catalogue as well as flip through the 184-page virtual catalogue. Shopping the virtual catalogue is a breeze: a drop-down menu allows users to select specific pages and to get more information, simply click on the item and you’ll get redirected to the product detail page, where users may add the product their shopping cart. Clicking the “˜Back to Catalog’ link takes users back to the page they were on in the virtual catalogue – simple and fuss-free.

The site also carries items not found in the SkyMall catalogue in its “˜Web Exclusives’ department. This helps to ensure that users check back regularly for items available only on the SkyMall website.

The site boasts 14 product categories: Health & Wellness, Home Living, Apparel & Accessories, Pet Products, Electronics & Gadgets, Auto & Hardware, Outdoor Living, Toys & Collectibles, Travel, Seasonal, Computers, Office, Sports and Gifts. These categories are accessible from anywhere on the site, as the links are rooted across the top of the page.

‘Going beyond the ordinary’: The tail of a plane, in SkyMall’s signature red and white colours, stands out against a backdrop of blue skies and white clouds – a reminder that SkyMall is a dedicated inflight retailer

Clicking the category link will take users to the designated category page displaying sub-categories, “˜Today’s featured product’, a “˜Top Picks’ section and a list of stores supplying products in that category.

Under Health & Wellness, for example, users will find ten sub-categories, including “˜First Aid & Safety’ (which includes products such as a blood pressure monitor, US$149.95); “˜Massage & Circulation’ (Brookstone Aqua-Jet Foot Spa, US$99); and “˜Skincare & Cosmetics’ (Microdermabrasion System, US$199.95).

The “˜Top Picks’ section of the page features the most popular items within Health & Wellness, accompanied by prices and corresponding image thumbnails. A drop-down menu allows users to view top picks in all the other sub-categories.

Products are listed within the sub-categories, where users can choose to sort by price (high to low or low to high), title or in a suggested order. Users may also choose to sort product listings by the number of products to list per page: 12, 24, 36, 48 or all.

The product details page itself is just as comprehensive and well-organised. Besides a single large image, more photos of the product (when available) are also displayed using thumbnails below the main picture. Prices are clearly stated and a delivery price is available in a separate pop-up window when required. Users may opt to add to cart, add to wishlist, send to a friend, add to e-Reminders or buy a gift certificate.

Product details are informative and thorough. SkyMall also offers a lowest price guarantee; customers may request a refund if they find an identical product sold elsewhere for less. In addition, customers may return a product within 60 days for exchange or refund should they be unhappy with a purchase. Such reassurances and comprehensive product information go a long way in giving customers peace of mind.

In addition, the product details page also recommends similar products under the “˜You might also like”¦” section, complete with image thumbnails and prices.

One very helpful section in the site is the Gifts category, where users are directed to when they click the “˜Not sure what to buy?’ icon within the product pages. This online gift shop aims to provide gift ideas for all occasions.

Besides SkyMall gift cards, users may also choose from the Food & Wine sub-category, with products ranging from Gourmet Cookies & Berries (US$39.99) to Signature Sauced Pork Ribs (US$44.95-US$93.00) to Signature Series Wine Clubs (US$136.00-US$1,392.00).

Users may also opt to shop by recipient, whether for the Executive, for Her, for Him or for Kids. They may also shop by price, with products being sorted as under US$50, under US$100 or under US$150. Shopping for others never seemed easier.

Overall, SkyMall is very user-friendly and products are well-organised and neatly presented. In addition, the selection is extensive; the site is reported to carry almost 8,000 products. Despite the easy navigation, the sheer amount of information presented might be too overwhelming for some users.

What we like:
• User-friendly services such as e-Reminders
• Well-organised product presentation
• Extensive range of products
• Interactive virtual catalogue
• Detailed product information and professional photos

What needs improving/adding:
• Currency converter for international orders
• More incentives to shop such as special offers and competitions

Website of the week scoring system explained:
Content: How wide is the range of items on offer? Are there good quality photos and product descriptions?
Pricing: Are product prices listed? For all products?
Navigation: How easy is the site to use?
Style/Design: How does the site look?
Supplementary information: On allowances, currencies, after-sales service, useful tips and so on.
Overall incentive to shop: This includes tone, promotions, offers, competitions and, importantly, pre-order.

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