January 11, 2012, 11:14 AM

When it comes to site design, e-retailers don’t always need to think big

A design conference speaker will show how small moves generate conversions.

Lead Photo

Murali Bandaru

The key to increasing conversions with well-designed merchandising pages is to keep the design clean, simple and straightforward, says Murali Bandaru, director of information technology for department store chain Belk Inc.

Bandaru will speak Feb. 14 at 9:00 a.m. at the 2012 Internet Retailer Web Site Design and Usability Conference in Orlando in a session entitled “Missing the obvious: Easy changes that can boost conversion rates."

He says that on the revised home page for Belk.com, No. 296 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, the department store retailer reduced the number of items typically offered from 20 products to four items. Although he didn’t have an exact figure, the effort produced a noticeable increase in sales conversion because the redesigned home page highlights brief, but targeted, content, along with larger images that drive shoppers to featured items or sales events such as 30% to 50% off spring sportswear. “We reduced the number of items and redesigned the home page to tailor the customer experience,” Bandaru says.

During his session Bandaru will detail how making other simple but important changes, such as adding advanced site content, boosted conversions. “We also added image toppers, or content right above the product picture, that may identify that item as a best seller,” Bandaru says. “This kind of design change draws a shopper’s attention right away to our featured products and helped to improve conversion rate.”

Web retailers hoping to boost conversions without a wholesale redesign also should study customer shopping patterns through an analysis of web analytics data and design a new page or page template, and then conduct simple, but continual, A/B testing. “The A/B testing will tell you what type of customer variations you are going to get and to go with the design that’s going to generate the most click-throughs,” Bandaru says.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Bandaru to speak because he is a seasoned e-commerce and information technology manager. He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology with 13 of those in e-commerce. He also has successfully spearheaded numerous e-commerce and multichannel initiatives at Belk, the largest privately owned chain of department stores in the U.S.

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