February 14, 2012, 1:00 PM

IRWD 2012: Keep it simple—and useful

Retailers Belk and Southern Fulfillment give tips on improving conversion rates.

Lead Photo

Murali Bandaru said retailers shouldn't try to promote too many things on their home pages.

When it simplified its home page, focused on a hero shot and cut out clutter, retail chain Belk Inc. “saw a huge improvement in click-through rates,” director of information technology Murali Bandaru said at the Internet Retailer Web Design and Usability Conference today in Orlando, FL.

“Keep it light and simple; don’t promote too many things,” Bandaru advised, as he discussed home page design in a session titled “Missing the obvious: Easy changes that can boost conversion rates.”

Daryl Logullo, e-commerce manager at online fruit and gifts retailer Southern Fulfillment Services, who spoke alongside Bandaru, said that his company also increased customer response by improving the presentation of products. The retailer’s flagship fresh fruit web site, HaleGroves.com, increased customer engagement when it moved a prominent video about the Hale Groves process of picking fresh fruit from its orchards to a less prominent spot further down on a web page, replacing it with big product images in a hero shot that site visitors can click on to make a purchase.

Large product images and a prominent and consistent call to action lead to sales, Logullo said.

Bandaru and Logullo offered several other tips for improving click-through and conversion rates:

● Provide a maximum of two levels of navigation, such as browse by category and by sub-category, to provide helpful navigation without confusing shoppers with too many options.

● Test the number of product images presented on search results pages. Belk improved customer response when it reduced the number to four from six, providing helpful information without clutter, Bandaru said.

● Cross-sell products relevant to a shopper’s interest on product pages and in the shopping cart. When Belk worked with IBM Coremetrics to improve the relevancy of product recommendations, “our click-throughs from cross-sells skyrocketed,” Bandaru said.

● Take steps to improve the post-order process, a forte of industry leader Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide,) which typically delivers order confirmations to customers’ e-mail inboxes in less than a minute, Logullo said.

● As a gifts retailer, Southern Fulfillment lets shoppers ship products in the same order to more than one recipient, a feature that has increased average order value, Logullo said. 

● Offering live chat customer service, Logullo said, has increased conversions, lowered the cart abandonment rate and reduced the number of calls to the Southern Fulfillment’s contact center.

Belk is No. 296 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Amazon is No 1. Southern Fulfillment is No.588 in the Second 500 Guide.

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