June 20, 2014, 1:09 PM

Let the data direct decisions

Numerous e-retailer speakers at IRCE 2014 discussed how testing, data and analytics led to profitable improvements.

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Shop Direct, the U.K. parent company to numerous web-only and multichannel retail brands including Woolworths.co.uk, Very and Littlewoods, makes focusing on customers’ wants and needs a priority, said Jonathan Wall, group e-commerce director at IRCE 2014. And that’s why testing and analytics are at the core of the decision-making process at the company.

Wall told attendees Shop Direct began vigorously testing its sites with consumers in 2010 and the company today runs about 35 tests a month to make sure consumers are satisfied when they visit its e-commerce sites. It uses eye tracking and heat maps, for example, and what those ongoing tests reveal helps the company design pages to consumers’ preferences. It also uses A/B testing, splitting site visitors into two groups, with each group seeing a different version of the tested page. A test of what Wall called “persuasive messaging” pop-ups on product pages showed that conversions increased 2.7% when the site displayed messages conveying the product’s popularity with other shoppers. Pop-ups, for example, showed how many other consumers were looking at the same product and how many consumers purchased the item in the last 48 hours.

Studying and understanding shopper analytics is becoming increasingly important as consumers shop across sales channels. Online orders placed at in-store kiosks at Staples Inc. stores, for example, increased 29% in 2013 and orders placed online for in-store pick-up increased 39%, said Faisal Masud, executive vice president of global e-commerce in his IRCE presentation entitled “Connecting digital and physical assets to compete online.” He said Staples will launch in July a buy online, pick up in store option for same-day pick-ups. He pointed to how analytics about shopper behavior showed that shoppers who shop across mobile—Staples also recently redesigned its mobile site—and store channels shop 2.3 times more than consumers who only shop in one channel.

Staples Inc. is No. 3 in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Top 500 Guide. Shop Direct Group is No. 7 in the 2014 Europe 500.


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