January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

ToolBarn.com gets personal when retooling site

The e-retailer uses personalization technology that adds recommendations and looks at group behavior when piecing together pages. The result has been a jump in average order value and annual orders.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Turns out tool buyers don’t often think about buying a second saw blade when they buy a saw. So ToolBarn.com Inc. started giving online customers a little nudge, and they responded by purchasing those second saw blades.

Saw blades have been one of the most notable products purchased via recommendations since the e-retailer implemented recommendations technology early last year. Recommendations, the merchant reports, have been responsible for a $16 average order value increase.

“The big thing is, maybe they’re not thinking of something else at the time they are buying a product,” says Chris Hughes, marketing manager at ToolBarn.com. Recommendations remind shoppers of other tools or accessories they may need while suggesting complementary items or other brands, Hughes adds.

ToolBarn.com’s product recommendations stem from a suite of systems from vendor Amadesa. The suite, offered as a software as a service solution hosted by the vendor, also includes applications for dynamic personalization of web pages and A/B and multivariate testing. When ToolBarn.com switched on the dynamic personalization, the return on investment came quickly, the e-retailer says.

ToolBarn.com, for example, tested six versions of its checkout process. The Amadesa technology examines shoppers’ online actions and creates pages based on the most profitable behaviors. In the end, the winning version of the checkout process included more messages assuring customers of the security of the transaction.

Today ToolBarn.com uses the security-themed checkout process, which it says reduced cart abandonment and contributed to an increase in the annual number of orders by 11,016.

“It seems online shoppers are still wary about giving out their personal information,” says Brian Mark, chief technology officer. “We have found if you give them guarantees, they feel more comfortable with your store. The enhanced checkout process improved buyer confidence.”

ToolBarn is No. No. 444 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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