Starting in August, Diapers.com began telling customers it was “expecting,” expecting to launch a major redesign of its e-commerce site. The online-only retailer delivered the message in cards inserted in shipping boxes and, two weeks before the November launch, in an extensive e-mail that highlighted such new features as a quick-shop list of previously purchased items and a section of the product page for related products the shopper might want.
While the new site is less than two months old, it’s already producing results, particularly in increasing sales from repeat customers, says Lisa Kennedy, vice president of marketing at Diapers.com, a unit of 1800Diapers Inc., No. 231 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
On the new site, returning customers see a home page personalized for them, with a list of items they’ve previously bought for easy reordering, and a portion of the page with recommended items based on the age of the customer’s child. Roughly 80-90% of shoppers provide a child’s age at registration, Kennedy says, and Diapers.com uses that to information to tailor product recommendations. “If we know your child is six months old we give you one set of items,” she says. “If we know your child is three months we give you a different set of items.”
The conversion rate among repeat visitors has gone up 15% since the redesign, Kennedy says, and that is from an already high conversion rate-north of 25% before the redesign. Meanwhile, first-time visitors see a site designed to be friendly and inviting, and which offers them easy access to the most popular brands. The conversion rate among such customers is in the high single digits, also rising since the redesign, Kennedy says.
The new site also features improved navigation. On the old site, categories were listed both on the left side and across the top. When the retailer added a new category, it lengthened the left-hand navigation column, which required consumers to scroll further down to see the entire list. The new site features the major categories across the top-diapering, formula and baby food, feeding and nursing, and the like-and popular brands on the left.
That not only makes it easier to find items, it also provides a structure that will allow Diapers.com to offer products in new categories. For instance, the top navigation includes a tab for Gear, which will soon include items like high chairs and strollers that Diapers.com has not sold in the past but plans to introduce in 2009. Diapers.com, which only offered 1,500 items as recently as mid-summer, now sells 2,500 items and plans to significantly expand its product selection next year, Kennedy says.
As part of the redesign, Diapers.com also introduced parametric filtering, so consumers can refine their searches by a baby’s age or weight, or by price or brand. The retailer employed technology from Mercado, now part of Omniture Inc. The easier navigation has helped cut down on average page views, although Kennedy could not say by how much, while increasing average order value in the “low single digits,” she says.
Another new feature of the site is a mini-shopping cart that follows the customer as she shops. The customer can click on the cart icon in the upper right at any time to see what’s in her cart and the total amount of the purchase.
The redesign also incorporated a new, more playful design aesthetic. “We want to convey a sense of humor,” Kennedy says. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do take seriously making mom’s shopping experience easier.” One example: now that winter is here, the letter “p” in Diapers.com now sports a woolen cap.
While some retailers use a design firm to create the look of the site and a specialist in user interaction for features such as personalization, Diapers.com turned both tasks over to Fluid Inc. “We described to them the brand personality so they could bring it to life and concurrently build a site that was eminently shoppable, easier to use and navigate, and that was scalable from an assortment expansion point of view,” Kennedy says.
While Kennedy would not say exactly what Diapers.com paid Fluid for its work, she says, “the design portion was a six-digit number, but it wasn’t close to the half a million number we were quoted by some of the larger agencies.” Diapers.com did the coding for the site in-house.