February 14, 2011, 2:40 PM

Design tweaks prompt a 19% lift in conversions for Footsmart.com

Redesigned product detail pages emphasize what the e-retailer’s customers want most.

Lead Photo

Sarah Payne speaking today at IRWD 2011.

After months of research and lab testing with consumers in its target audience, Footsmart.com introduced a new page design for product detail pages in October. Since then, the shoe e-retailer has measured a 19% increase in conversions, says Sarah Payne, senior manager of user experience and analytics for Footsmart.com. Payne described how research helped direct Footsmart’s redesign at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference 2011 this morning in a session entitled “One size doesn’t fit all.”

Payne said she relied heavily on what Footsmart.com’s web site analytics told her about consumers’ behavior on the site to pinpoint what needed improvement. She also looked at the designs of other footwear e-retailers to see which tools they featured on product pages. “We had a stale product detail page that we hadn’t updated in five years,” she said. “Our competitors were using features and had functionality we didn’t have on our site, like multi-view images and zoom.”

But instead of just adding features to match its competitors, Footsmart conducted two rounds of research with consumers in its target audience of adults age 45-65. The e-retailer ran tests with a dozen adults in the audience segment, and found that some of the bells and whistles popular with competitors didn’t much matter to Footsmart’s target audience. “Things like zooming weren’t as important,” Payne said. “A lot of younger users would be interested, but for older consumers there’s not so much value in it.”

Armed with the research findings, Footsmart made some simple changes. It moved consumer ratings of products from the bottom of product detail pages to just under the product name. Footsmart also updated the language of another consumer review area that features slider bars where consumers can rate the fit and comfort of a style. The research showed that consumers thought that it was Footsmart providing these ratings, not consumers who had actually used the product. 

The e-retailer also made the color blocks consumers click to select the product color they want larger and added more white space between the blocks, which Payne says improved navigation for older shoppers. Footsmart added more product information because the e-retailer’s audience demanded it, even though Payne said that change ran contrary to what most competitors were doing. “We doubled the real estate used to display product info. With an older demographic, they read that information and they’re patient,” she said.

Still, Payne said, the 19% lift in conversion was better than she expected. “It was huge,” she added. “We were not expecting such a large lift from small changes.”

Payne said Footsmart.com’s parent company, Benchmark Brands, No. 183 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, is on track to have $100 million in online sales this year. 

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