Today we have an interesting article contribution that one of our readers sent me a few days ago. It’s about experimentation in eCommerce. Let’s take a look:
Nowadays, anyone with an internet connection can technically launch an ecommerce website. But starting an online store doesn’t necessarily guarantee it will be successful. And, as seasoned ecommerce entrepreneurs will tell you, running a website is more than a “set and forget” proposition.
Stores that want to stay relevant for the long haul must expand their capabilities and features as they go. Business owners must understand what customers desire over time and update their store to service these wants and needs.
There’s always room for growth and development. Here’s a closer look at why experimentation is important in ecommerce.
One entrepreneur recently grew his online store called The Gadget Snob from zero to $2 million in just two months. His sage advice: “You don’t know what people will respond to until you try a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”
While online shoppers do behave in predictable ways, there’s always wiggle room for innovation. For example, brands generally accept that consumers want an increasingly personalized, human online shopping experience. But within that broad framework, there are still plenty of ways to experiment with different customer service and order fulfillment options.
Every ecommerce store has to figure out its secret recipe for success, because what works for one store is not necessarily applicable to others.
The Benefits of A/B Testing
A/B testing is a data-driven way to compare alternative options so ecommerce stores can make revenue-driving decisions in website design, marketing and more. All you need is a version A (the control) and a version B (the variable) to test against each other for a period of time.
Let’s say you’re interested in conducting an A/B test to determine where your customer reviews should go on your website for maximum impact. While online shoppers can currently click to reveal additional reviews, you decide to configure your premium web template to put them in the spotlight on product listings.
Choose a set period of time for your test; data takes time to gather, and you want your results to be statistically significant. Then compare. Did people start to buy certain highly-reviewed products more frequently during your experiment?
Did your revenue go up, stay consistent or decrease? Did people start to review more products based on seeing others’ reviews front and center? Look at the results from this A/B test and make an informed decision on where to place your product reviews.
Then apply the principle to other factors across your website, being careful to avoid tweaking too many things at once so you can confidently establish causation.
New Ways to Incentivize Shoppers
Some of the smartest ecommerce decisions are somewhat unconventional, meaning it takes a forward-thinking leader to try them out. For instance, many retailers have been embracing gamification in recent months. Instead of offering a cut-and-dry loyalty program, brands may focus on boosting interactivity.
How? By incentivizing consumers to earn points by sharing content with friends, making social media posts and more.
This approach closely coincides with the rise of m-commerce, because many shoppers are now willing to download ecommerce apps on their mobile devices. Whereas customers used to sit down at their desktop computer and use a web browser to make purchases, now most shoppers are seeking a more flexible experience.
Ecommerce stores willing to experiment with how they reach and incentivize customers will gain a competitive edge as expectations shift.
New Customer Service Possibilities
Having customer service representatives available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is no longer enough. Customers seek genuine, timely connections with online stores.
That’s why savvy ecommerce operations are trying out different methods of responding to real-time requests and inquiries – including social media strategies and live chat plug-ins.
Experimentation is important in ecommerce now more than ever. Take some risks and think outside the box. You could see payoffs in revenue and customer loyalty over time.