July 19, 2002, 12:00 AM

How better navigation is capturing higher web sales for Hewlett Packard

Conversions rose 83% on accessories after Hewlett Packard shortened the path between data on Compaq iPAQ accessories and the opportunity to buy them. Checkout analysis showed that customers sent to accessories stores were unable to find their way back.

Better navigation has improved merchandising success at Hewlett Packard’s web site. By shortening the path between product information on Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC accessories and the opportunity to buy them, the company boosted conversions by 83% and revenues by 25% for iPAQ accessories ranging from charger cables to cases, the company tells Internet Retailer.

Analytic software from Keylime Inc. flagged HP on an element of navigation that was creating “dispersion” on a page, says director of research and e-testing Seth Romanow. Site visitors apparently headed toward the purchase of iPAQ handheld accessories instead left the page in various other directions when they reached this point in the process.

Analysis suggested that the navigational path was causing confusion. Shoppers would be presented with information about modems for iPAQ handhelds on a product page, for example, but clicking on a modem to buy it then presented shoppers with the whole list of accessories for consideration, rather than delivering them directly to the shopping cart and the opportunity to buy that product.

Keylime identified the path information, which revealed how visitors were using the page. “We made a simple change, so that now when you click on ‘buy’ online, it takes you directly to the store for that particular accessory so you can place it directly in your cart. By taking that link out and directing people more specifically into the online store for a product, we were able to increase conversions and revenue, from a very small change that didn’t create a cost,” Romanow says. Hewlett Packard studied the path for two weeks, made the change, and then tracked the pathway for an additional two weeks to confirm results.

“Analytics follow paths to see how they are impacting conversion. They give us a good quantitative view of which links are the most profitable for us,” Romanow says. Hewlett Packard will apply the same pathway analysis to pages and links throughout its e-commerce site, he adds.

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