1/11/12

Sales light up by 18% for Bulbs.com in 2011

Customer feedback helps identify changes to site functions and design.

Bill Briggs , Senior Editor

Bulbs.com Inc. turned to its customers for help in improving its web site in mid-2011 and the upgrades helped increase sales by 18%. A usability study and benchmarks from customer satisfaction measurement vendor ForeSee showed the web-only light bulb retailer that its site needed work, says CEO Mike Connors.

Preliminary 2011 financial results show Bulbs.com, No. 493 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, recorded about $14.4 million in sales, up by 18% from about $12.2 million in 2010, Connors says.

The usability study, conducted by Usability Sciences Corp. in March, indicated basic changes were needed to improve both shopping and checkout, Connors says.

A combination of the usability study and results from customer surveys conducted by ForeSee led to “dozens of changes to our site design and marketing programs that increased our site traffic, conversion rate and dramatically raised both our repeat B2B and B2C business,” he says.

In addition to web site changes, Bulbs.com sent three times as many promotional e-mails in 2011 as in 2010. And new federal laws regulating the use of energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs also led to sales growth. Other metrics resulting from 2011 changes include average order value increasing almost 20% and consumer revenue climbing about 40% year over year, Connors says. He declined to offer specifics.

E-commerce site changes included reducing the checkout process from six to five steps and repositioning technical data on product pages, says Bryan Trainor, vice president of marketing. “We knew about many of the issues, but we didn’t know which functions to change,” he says.

One change involved the attributes available to refine a product search. “The left-hand navigation was not being seen and the product attributes were not in the right place,” Trainor says. “We worked with Usability Sciences to redesign the left navigation so when shoppers are in search results they can refine and remove them as needed.”

More changes involved product page details. “In one where the ForeSee information came into play, our product detail pages had four tabs and two were getting confused,” Connors says. “One was the general description and the other was our product technical specs. We found on a fairly consistent basis through open-ended questions that customers were not finding the technical specs.”

Technical specifications were moved from a tab to a position below product photos, making them permanently visible.

Bulbs.com expects growth to continue in 2012 and the company could expand its staff by as much as 10%.

Mike Connors will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2012 this June in Chicago in a session titled “Turning shipping into a profit center—even when you’re offering free shipping”.

Topics:

2011 earnings, 2011 financials, 2011 web sales, Bryan Trainor, Bulbs.com, ForeSee, incandescent bulb phase out, Mike Connors, Top 500, Usability Sciences, usability studies

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