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As eCommerce platforms have evolved over the last 10 years, one thing has stayed fairly constant – the presentation grid used within category and sub-category pages. As a definition for “grid based”, I am referring to the type of product presentation that shows numerous products for a given category, provided in a table format.
These tables vary by retailer in terms of default numbers. Some retailers may have 4 products across and 6 rows vertically before a user has the opportunity to scroll to the next page. Other retailers might have a much more deeper product showing on the page – for example the retailer may present 10 rows of products.
Interestingly enough, in all of my years of working in this sector, I have never seen available research relating to tests within this site aspect. Many of the leading platform providers offer standard default numbers with their category grids, and their clients are likely not pressing hard enough to alter the status quo within their systems.
Limiting cognitive processing within eCommerce
Site usability often relates to human cognitive processing and how this guides user behavior. This question of “what type of merchandising grid size works best” is in direct correlation to this theory.
What we want to know is are users scrolling down the page to fully absorb the offerings for which the retailer is presenting and at what number do they most likely take “browsing” actions.
At Trinity we have recently conducted site tests that changed the number of products presented within a key site aspect in the transactional funnel. Within this test we found that a substantial increase (20%+) in conversion happened when we reduced the number of offerings that were being presented to the user.
What we did within the test is reduce the cognitive overload within the page and assist the user in digesting information. Ultimately this increased the ratio of users who took the desired action and created sales growth.
So where do you begin if you are looking to drive optimization within this site element? First, conduct some user tests that are highly focused on tasks that are realted to finding products on category and sub-category pages.
Observe how users progress through your products. Are they scrolling below the fold? Are they progressing forward to the next page of products? Understand what percentage of your test executed these two site actions.
Ask verbal questions to the respondents after and during the test. Ask questions that focus on the location of products and how easy it was to identify items during the test scenarios. Often the verbal responses that you receive can uncover unthought “nuggets” that are correlated to cognitive overload.
You see your website daily and these respondents may be seeing it for the first time. This new set of eyes is invaluable in understanding how new visitors interact with site elements.
Now you have some primary research relating to your site which is going to help your decision making. The next step is to evaluate your current abilities within your eCommerce system and if you have the ability to change the default grid attributes (the number of rows and columns of products).
Executing this type of experiment within a split test could be difficult depending on the flexibility of your code base. A more realistic approach would be to try an alternative layout on a week per week basis to assess the difference. When considering the KPI’s that are going to be used to identify success, consider the following:
Number of carts started
Number of product page views
Progression ratio of category to sub-category pages
Average dollar value per visit
These four metrics can provide the intelligence and data to see if an alternative default layout for your category page works better for your customers and makes their site experience easier.
Try testing your default merchandising grids and see how the numbers impact performance within your eCommerce store. To learn more about Trinity Insight and our eCommerce optimization services, please contact us online.
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As your eCommerce business reaches scale and your physical store operations reach levels of greater than 50 locations, the need to integrate geographical targeting solutions becomes more important to maximizing your multi-channel retail sales.
You can probably decipher what these solutions achieve, but, in a nutshell, geographic targeting allows a website to render dynamic content that is tailored to the web location of a user.
Ultimately the focus of geo-targeting solutions is to create more macro conversions for the business. A macro conversion does not always take place on the website, but rather, may take place within physical store locations and communications with the brand that convert within varied channels.
Over the last 8 years, during the period of true multi-channel retail, we have learned that when customers engage with your brand in multiple channels, their overall value rises dramatically. This is not a new concept.
But building brand loyalty in an age in which consumers are flooded with product and value messaging becomes more and more challenging, but by using geo-targeting, your company can help accelerate transactional progress in creating more location messages within your retail enterprise.
So when can you use geo-targeting?
Are you a multi-channel retailer with hundreds of locations…or just 20? Do you have a product mix that factors into situations for which seasonality affects demand? Do you have a merchandising strategy that takes into location for promotional calendars? All of these questions need to be answered when properly structuring a geographic targeting plan online.
How can a retailer or web business use geo targeting to drive both on-site and in-store conversion?
Use Case #1 Show your physical stores
This is a no-brainer and a project that senior management will likely embrace whole heartedly. This is essentially the dynamic insertion of physical store locations into website templates based upon the geographic location of the user.
Forward thinking retailers put mechanisms in place to render the “3 closest stores” to users, complete with pictures and door to door directions. This is done by integrating solutions that reference user IP addresses to back end databases that match to user zip codes.
Automatically the solution references business rules and current physical locations to decide what to render within a website template. In situations for which a user may not be living close to a store, the system renders “default” creative.
By showing the closest stores, either within a homepage only or global template module, the user now has a clear idea of the closest locations for which he or her can transact with the brand directly, without having to notice or utilize the store locator button or link.
Use Case #2 Create more relevant spotlight promotions
I have talked about this opportunity within this blog in previous posts and I am still surprised that the retail sector seems to be lagging behind other eCommerce sectors with this tactic. Weather and physical location can be great cues to drive more relevant promotions within the first three seconds of a user visit.
Think of these possible scenarios and retailers:
The Home Depot: Do you want to show the same homepage to Florida users versus users in Maine in February?
NFLShop.com: Why would the business not tailor homepage spotlight products to a local team (ex. Jerseys, hats, shirts etc to a hometown team)?
StubHub: Spotlight the local events happening on the homepage that correlate to a physical location
Use Case #3 Use geo-targeting to show your shipping value proposition
Shipping is a key factor when consumers make up their mind of if they want to purchase or not. Large retailers have complex business rules and are limited to certain states for free shipping or even free overnight shipping (which customers love!). Why not be proactive with this messaging to customer segments. Geo targeting can help immensely.
The location of your distribution centers and the corresponding ship rates may lead to having certain states having 3-5 day free shipping versus 1-2 day. This is a BIG difference in the mind of the consumer and if you are not conveying this messaging throughout the user experience then your store is missing a key opportunity.
In this user case, Geo-targeting solutions will again take assessment of the user IP address, map that address to the database of zip codes, and ultimately decipher what type of shipping option, free or otherwise, that corresponds to the user’s location. Embracing this tactic will allow your eCommerce store to be proactive to a key question in the user’s mind and help take shipping out of the equation as a potential roadblock to conversion.
Take a step back and think about your business. Do you have customer scenarios that would be positively impacted by the integration of geographically tailored content or promotions?
Ecommerce businesses are frequently mired in the order management and “blocking and tackling” functions of service and fulfillment. As your store looks to create an innovative gameplan for your 2011 roadmap, take a step back and think about how geo-targeting can enhance your user experience. Doing so can produce great gains, both in the online and physical channel alike.
If you would like more information about Trinity Insight’s eCommerce geo-targeting consulting, please contact us online.
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I must admit, I’m a bit of a kid at heart as it relates to playing video games. Being a child who grew up in the 80′s, I was immersed with Nintendo and Sega and fascinated by spending hours trying complete Super Mario 3 or Ninja Gaiden.
We get older and with age comes responsibilites. Time becomes scarce. I have less time to play video games but try to bust out the XBOX once a week for a little R&R. My interests these days lie in sports games and within a new sports game release I observed the intersection of eCommerce integrated within the online gaming experience.
When playing FIFA 10 (a killer soccer game) within the menu of the game there is the ability to go to the FIFA store. When there, users have the ability to use stored payment options to purchase additional gaming components among other things. It makes a ton of sense to personalize the store based upon user preferences and with the millions of consumers who use video games daily, this can be an interesting channel to watch in the years to come.
Lets say I am a Liverpool fan. For those in the U.S., Liverpool is a popular football (not soccer in Europe) team that has a devoted following in the Premier league of England. When configuring the game upon my first play, I select Liverpool as my favorite team. Imagine the possibilities and potential revenue share potential that can take place.
Within the store, I could be presented with Liverpool apparel, memorabilia, ticket offers, and other items that passionate fans love to buy. Essentially, it could operate as an affiliate marketing relationship, but instead of the publisher getting paid by the retailer, the video game company, in this case Electronic Arts, would get paid a revenue share from the retailer or wholesaler that ships the item.
This becomes simplistic because payment info (Credit card data) is already stored within most user accounts. Online gaming has led to users purchasing subscriptions etc online and most users have their info stored. This leads to an easier transaction and higher conversion rates.
Video games and eCommerce is an emerging channel and one that should be watched. Take a minute and think about your assortment and target demographic. Maybe this opportunity is closer than you think.
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So last week, Trinity Insight was visiting Google at their Mountanview headquarters for the yearly summit that takes place with authorized partners within the analytics and optimizer products.
Always a great time full of learning, including progressive discussions into how businesses can maximize their web properties through conversion optimization.
While there, we got a glimpse of some of the new developments with these products. Recently announced at this week’s eMetrics conference are enhancements to both Website Optimizer and Google Analytics that further close the gap between Google’s offerings and other paid solutions.
These new developments make these solutions even more useful to marketers and technology teams across the globe.
First lets discuss website optimizer. For those who are not familiar with website optimizer, it is Google’s free tool that allows webmaster to conduct both multivariate and AB Testing in efforts to improve conversion rates. Two primary enhancements were announced.
An API for website optimizer
One of Website Optimizer’s previous limitations was the difficulty that sometimes arose in tagging creative and text within content mangement systems. Users, after monitoring and completing tests, had to re-tag pages and jump through seemingly un-necessary hoops in order to conduct follow up testing.
Right now only two CMS platforms have completed the integration. One is Crown Peak and the other is Motivity. I am sure that Google is already in discussions with other shopping cart and CMS vendors, and I believe that the open source community is developing ways to integrate leading tools like eCommerce platform provider Magento and content management systems like Joomla.
Still many technical issues to figure out, but the premise of non-tagging based testing is an exciting development within the eBusiness marketplace.
Over Time Charting
Not as big a development as the API, but this enhancement is something that will help marketers in assessing test trends over a period of time. Previously, reporting data within the Optimizer back-end was limited to an aggregate of data.
With this enhancement, you can see how the conversion rate fluctuates over a unique date period. This functionality seems great for media sites, where users return daily, to assess how new design approaches are embraced on subsequent visits.
Google Analytics, not to to be undone by it’s sister product, also enhanced their product. Let’s look at the biggest enhancement.
Google Analytics Intelligence
A great stride in the product allows web analysts to be essentially alerted by their analytics system when certain key metrics fall or rise above key thresholds. This type of functionality is going to be great in helping users identify problems with the site or marketing efforts before the problem becomes a crisis.
Some interesting things you can do within this is to define your alert sensativity. This allows a marketer to be able to structure their exact notification preferences for the metrics that matter to them and get their notifcations in a manner that will impact business decisions.
That’s what these tools are all about: Getting the right data in order to make proper business decisions. Sometimes I think that message gets lost in the clutter and complexity of site optimization. These tools will not optimize the site themeselves, but rather provide the insights and datapoints to empower someone to do so.
Great to see these enhancements and these new functionality sets make the Google products even more of a player when a business is looking for a onine testing and web analytics platform.
If you want to speak to Trinity Insight about web analytics consulting and how it can impact your marketing and site efforts, please contact us!