April 14, 2009, 12:00 AM

How CoffeeForLess chooses tech to perk up conversions

By testing technology products before buying, Coffee Serv’s CoffeeForLess.com has consistently deployed new applications that increase conversion rates.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

By testing competing technology products before buying, Coffee Serv Inc.’s CoffeeForLess.com has consistently deployed new applications that increase conversion rates, CEO Ben Kirshner says.

For his basic e-commerce platform, including the shopping cart, Kirshner likes having direct control over the software code, and so goes with technology developed by his in-house programmers on Microsoft Corp.’s ASP.net platform.

But because it would take too much time for his staff to build all the features he needs to operate CoffeeForLess.com, Kirshner has deployed commercial applications in such areas as live chat, consumer reviews and site security.

Before installing an outside application, he puts it to the test. “I like to pre-classify all technology applications as things that lift conversion rates,” Kirshner says. “We’ll test different models of each application and see which gives us the better bang for the buck. It may cost extra time and resources, including a beta test fee, but it’s worth it because the one we choose we’ll have for a long time.”

In recent years, CoffeeForLess has chosen several technology vendors, in most cases after putting their technology up against that of competing vendors. In some cases, it went with high-end systems like site search and navigation from SLI Systems Inc.; in others, it chose relatively low-price alternatives after concluding that they produced conversion rates comparable with more costly applications. Among its lower-price choices have been site performance testing from AlertBot, security certification from Starfield Technologies Inc. and Google Analytics.

CoffeeForLess.com also offers live chat from LivePerson Inc. on every product page; Sitebrand behavioral targeting personalization software; McAfee security certification, and the PowerReviews consumer ratings and reviews application.

“We have seen an increase in conversion rates and a return on investment from using all of these tools and services,” Kirshner says.

CoffeeForLess.com is No. 486 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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