November 18, 2003, 12:00 AM

A risk-free A/B test of retail web site presentations

SysIQ and UC-Berkeley have launched the Internet Consumer Purchase Behavior Study that will measure how attributes of a real retail web site affect purchasing.


Ever wanted to see what your customers would do if you changed your web site a certain way but never had the nerve to risk losing sales if it failed? Now SysIQ Inc., provider of e-commerce systems, and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley have launched the Internet Consumer Purchase Behavior Study that will measure how various attributes of a real retail web site affect purchasing.

The two organizations have built a web site that appears to consumers as an office supply and electronic goods stores. Customers can buy from the site, which will fill orders from drop-shipping arrangements, but the real purpose of the site is to measure how various features such as site design, product presentation, and price promotion affect consumers’ propensity to purchase.

"The possibility of collecting data from a new Internet store that is created solely for research purposes is a unique opportunity to understand the purchasing behavior of actual consumers," said Miguel Villas-Boas, professor of business administration at the Haas School of Business. "It enables the researchers to look at the behavior of consumers in a situation where the market factors are exogenously controlled, and not decided endogenously by firms. This is especially reinforced by the fact that the researchers have complete control over all the potential decisions in the store."

SysIQ supports the operations of the web store, including storefront design; order and transaction processing; integration to a distribution and fulfillment center; site usage and reporting; and multiple site versioning. The store is structured to display multiple versions of the site concurrently to test web store attributes. The site’s sponsors say all analysis of consumer behavior in the study will be anonymous.

SysIQ and the Haas School are asking direct marketers to suggest areas of the study by visiting SysIQ is the new name of the former Ecofabric.


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