January 27, 2006, 12:00 AM

A small change produces a big boost at Alibris.com

Only a fraction of customers were using a feature that narrowed search results at Alibris.com. Changing the feature’s location increased usage by 500% and sales by 400%.

Realtors say value is all about location, and the experience of online bookseller Alibris demonstrates that’s true of web site real estate too. Alibris boosted sales by 400% simply by relocating one of its search features to a more prominent location, after deploying analytics provider Cormetrics` A/B testing and real estate reporting to analyze customer usage.

Alibris, No. 98 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, used the hosted testing service and report to determine if changing the presentation of its Narrow Your Results search functionality would increase usage of the feature, which was being used by only a fraction of site visitors. Moving the feature to a better location on the site produced 500% more clicks, which lead to the sales boost. More customers now use the tool to refine search results by book attribute such as hardcover or first edition. The reports also unearthed the need to further refine the search tool’s language so as to help customers locate hard-to-find books.

Brian Elliott, COO at Alibris, says that given Alibris`s 50 million book titles, helping customers find special items such as signed copies of out of print books is a challenge that has the company constantly looking for ways to improve the user experience. “A/B testing lets us manage our risk to measuring customer demand earlier in our development process,” he says. “Rather than rely on subjective evaluations, we can use Coremetrics to quantify the impact on visitor conversion before committing additional resources.”

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