December 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

Testing navigation and image display options pays off for Coolibar

The retailer will explain at Internet Retailer’s web design conference how testing improved sales.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

Coolibar, a web and catalog retailer of sun protection products, recently learned through multivariate tests how various approaches to site navigation and image displays can make a big difference in conversion rates, says Alan Higley, vice president of Internet marketing.

Conversion rates rose and bounce rates fell when product images were shown with an “on location” background as opposed to a white background typical of a photo studio, for example. And central images on lead category pages produced better results when they presented only the most popular navigation options instead of the full range of options available in the main top navigation bar, Higley says.

It also pays to clearly state a product’s benefits to the customer in the text that goes with the main product image. “Reinforcing category end-user benefits in the main category image reduced our ‘one-and-out’ bounce rate,” Higley says.

Higley will address how Coolibar is using its Adobe/Omniture Test & Target application to test and analyze the effectiveness of multiple navigation options during a session titled “Making sure your customers find the merchandise they want”  at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2012 Conference in Orlando, FL, in February.

On its main category page for swimwear, for example, Coolibar found that it got better results on the page if the main image—which shows a woman, a man and a girl running on a sunny beach—featured alongside it only the most popular navigation links from the longer list of links available in the top and left-side navigation bars. Running too many links next to the main image made the site too cluttered and less effective as a merchandising display, Higley says.

Conversion rates improved when Coolibar limited the navigation links next to the image to Women’s, Men’s, Girl’s 2-16, Boy’s 2-16 and Swim Cover-ups. Other links in the navigation bars include links for products for infants and toddlers, umbrellas and shelters, and other sun protection products. In other categories, Coolibar also found that navigation links were more effective when they focused on a product’s functional benefits, such as their effect on sensitive skin, than when they emphasized brands or other options.

In addition, Coolibar found that navigation was less effective if links took visitors too far beyond a product page. “Taking visitors too deep into the site—for instance, to an item transaction page—was less effective than taking visitors to category sub-section pages,” Higley says.

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