Written by Mark Grondin, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Shopatron
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 08:24
If you want to increase sales of your product online, consider using tried and true tactics from brick and mortar retail stores.
When you walk into any store, the entire layout is designed to help you find what you need to complete your purchase. There is clear signage, there are more attractive or promotional items capping the ends of the main aisles, there’s a small selection of paintbrushes hanging mid-shelf in the paint aisle. New items are up front, prices and discounts are clearly marked and when you go to checkout you’ll pass through a mini-buffet of small, inexpensive items you simply can’t resist. After many years of analyzing shopping behavior, merchandisers have discovered that these tactics are the most effective for getting people to buy.
These same concepts can be applied to your online store. In fact, the extensive conversion testing administered by analysts at eCommerce company Shopatron have demonstrated that applying these tactics to their client’s eCommerce stores increased sales from 15% to 29%.
To maximize conversions and motivate online shoppers to spend their hard-earned dollars, you must give the shopper a desire or urgency to buy and remove obstacles that could impede their purchase. Shoppers are motivated to “buy now” with limited time specials, good deals, external recommendations and dwindling inventory. Alternatively, shoppers may be dissuaded if a site is difficult to navigate, has incomplete product data, or does not give them confidence that their purchase will be secure.
With this psychology in mind, your goal should be to provide an attractive, inviting website that possesses these attributes:
Easy to navigate
Provides extensive product information and specifications
Addresses any potential concerns clearly and conspicuously (e.g. placing security information, shipping charges or lack thereof and return policies prominently on each product page)
Highlights any sale items
Shows inventory availability
Provides customer-furnished product reviews
Emphasizes awards or accolades
Includes a recommended products algorithm
Once you have established which of these areas you want to address in your own web store, it is critical to perform A/B conversion tests to confirm that the changes do, in fact, deliver positive results. A/B tests are fairly simple to execute and involve testing two versions of your website for a specific period of time (depending on your average number of visitors, this could be one month or three months). During the test period, half of the visitors are sent to your existing website and half are sent to the revised/test version. At the end of the test period, results are analyzed based on desired results including measures such as the number of visitors that began checkout, the number of visitors that completed checkout (or abandoned their cart), sales volumes and cart volumes.
When deciding which elements to test on your website, considering the tactics mentioned above is a good place to start. Even asking a colleague to perform a specific action on your website while you watch—like deciding which of three similar products they would buy and completing their purchase—will give you insights into ways you can reduce friction and increase urgency. Through this simple exercise, you may find that making adjustments like updating your core navigation are in order. Or, you may find that adding product information or making your shipping, security and returns policies more transparent will help shoppers complete their sale.
In some cases you will find that changes that are fairly simple to execute produce notable results. For example, when Shopatron updated the navigation in client web stores, added clear logos about security, and included more prominent payment and return policies alongside the price on each product page, they saw a 13% increase in sales for puppet manufacturer Folkmanis.
And in the case of the footwear and apparel eCommerce store for skate brand Globe, two small adjustments to the promotion of their sale items—highlighting “Special Offer” next to the price and adding a red circle emphasizing the percent savings on each product—resulted in a 15% increase in sales, a 28% increase in revenue and 19% increase in visitors who began the checkout process.
While there are exceptions to every rule and some tests may deliver results you didn’t expect, proper conversion testing can help you efficiently and definitively increase sales on your eCommerce website. By following best practices (such as those detailed in the whitepaper eCommerce Conversion Testing: Best Practices for Brands to Increase Sales) and testing regularly, you could see a substantial increase in revenue with a relatively small investment.
Mark Grondin is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Shopatron. Grondin has more than 15 years of experience in eCommerce, web and mobile technology, having provided eCommerce consulting to organizations like the German Stock Exchange, Swissair and Johnson Outdoors, and managing web agency relationships with Hewlett-Packard, Disney, and Apple. In his current role he is responsible for business development, PR, demand generation and outbound sales.