January 8, 2010, 12:00 AM

Sports Unlimited examines the best ways to boost conversion rates

By diverting some shoppers to test the benefits of new site elements, such as increasing the prominence of its Add to Cart button, Sports Unlimited Inc. aims to identify the changes that boost conversion rates.

By diverting some shoppers to test the benefits of new site elements, such as increasing the prominence of its Add to Cart button, Sports Unlimited Inc. aims to identify the changes that boost conversion rates.

In working with Exclusive Concepts Inc., which uses software that can test changes to the design and content of a retailer’s site without changing the site’s hard coding, the retailer aims to avoid impacting organic search results. Changing the site’s hard coding would have required the retailer to further alter its pages to optimize page content and links to those pages for organic search rankings.

One area the retailer is focused on is improving visibility of certain elements on product pages. For instance, it found that using colors to highlight product prices and the shipping calculator button and showing icons indicating when an item is in stock yielded a 15% increase in conversions and a 12% increase in average order value during testing, according to Exclusive Concepts.

After testing the first changes, Exclusive Concepts tested the effect of highlighting the Add to Cart button in orange and increasing its size. The changes boosted conversions on product pages by 44% and the average order value by 27%.

“Testing the changes we wanted to make to the site not only helped us determine what will improve conversions, but that those changes will not cause a drop in our organic search rankings,” says Michael Neff, director of e-commerce at Sports Unlimited. “We redesigned parts of our site a couple of years ago and suffered a 50% drop-off in organic search traffic.”

Shoppers coming to Sports Unlimited’s site through organic search results on Google during testing were redirected to the retailer’s internal search page, which offers a more relevant product selection and lets shoppers find the products they want with fewer clicks. Tests of this navigation path, which are ongoing, have boosted conversions by 6.5% to date.

“If retailers are to increase their conversion rates, grow sales and compete more effectively against larger enterprises, they need to adopt a testing strategy,” says Scott Smigler, Exclusive Concepts president.

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