How I’d Fix My Favorite Stores: Zoro Tools

I am starting a new series. I’ll write a few comments examining how I might improve one of my favorite stores: Zoro Tools.  If there is an interest in this series, maybe I’ll write some more.Most of the comments are things I would improve, so this may sound overly critical-it is not supposed to. (Remember, the site may look different by the time you read this).


Zoro Tools Homepagezoro tools homepage (Click all pics to zoom)


The Branding
The fox is a good branding tool. Kind of like the Travelocity gnome. I would like to see a universal look for the fox. That might require hiring 1 designer to do all the “fox-art”, or spending some time making a cool logo with the fox peeking out behind the letter “O”. Then just have the fox in the logo.


zoro logo

The current logo could be improved by making all of the letters some sort of tool…not just the two “O”s. Like ladders and a hammer? A designer would love this assignment.


The Creative
On the whole, the creative on the site does not match the intended audience. On the homepage the sections (or aisles in a hardware store) are represented by cartoon art. I am not certain if that is meant to be a differentiator or a placeholder. I would go with real photos of tools when possible rather than drawings for this company.

The creative for the promotions is great if the target audience was my grandmother. She loves snowmen! The problem is that men shop here. Not just any men…masculine men- men who use tools. These men don’t like frilly and hippy things- they like metal, tools, cars, sports and women. The vibe of the site should be more like that (though I’d leave off the women). The site needs to look sleek, not hokey. And the homepage needs pictures of tools on it!


Let’s talk about the navigation, because I think it is a miss. There are two ways to go with navigation. One is to try to simplify everything for ease of use and understanding. The other is to try to artificially inflate your navigation so as to potentially improve your SEO. For a category this large (hardware) you must choose number one. We have to make sure we can simplify the navigation while retaining the seo. But how?

On the homepage, there is some seo value in the blue text links under the category. E.g., if you look under the category “gloves and safety apparel” there is a link “work gloves”… that has seo value.

The problem is that this section is a mess. There is too much information for me to parse as is. How I would solve this is to hide the blue links and only have them appear once you hover or click the “gloves and safety apparel” section.

This would free up so much room to merchandize the homepage better and I would not be so overwhelmed with options on how to find my stuff. If I wanted a safety helmet I could hover over the “gloves and safety apparel section” see and if it is in there. If not, maybe I could hover over safety equipment and the gloves section would collapse. This seems a lot cleaner.


Top Nav

zoro top nav
The “all categories” dropdown goes for seo again. When I select it, all I see is a wall of text. Ideally, this would list the exact 16 primary categories that are listed on your homepage with a similar visual icon next to it.

A secondary flyout could popup showing the subcategories once you select the primary category you want to explore further.

The SEO links on the secondary flyout can be a little longer, but for the primary nav I would aim for trying to communicate the category in as few letters as possible.
Category Page

zoro tools category page
The category pages are mostly good. I might try to incorporate more attributes. E.g., maybe some products have an attribute like color or size. Zoro Tools carries a lot of products so that would help.


Product Page

zoro tools product page
The product page is interesting. It is very functional IF you take the time to figure out what is going on. The problem is that nobody does that. The problem that Zoro has is that some products have multiple features and sizes and you have to communicate if you carry that option and if it is in stock. This problem is hard enough to simplify for the customer, though I think they do a good job.

What I would do differently is hide the “buy in bulk” grid when someone first arrives at the page so that customers are not so overwhelmed. Have a link that says buy in bulk next to the ‘add to cart’ button and then the grid can display. Even if the majority of customers are buying things in bulk, I think this is the way to go. Again, this is a lot of information to process. Here is how it would look “hidden”:

zoro product 2


Great store, but everything can improve. Also, most of these ideas can be safely tested. To comment, email me at eric (dot) zwickler (at sign) gmail (dotcom).

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