December 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

How Samantha, Kelly and Elizabeth help save sales

Those are the three names that the online retailer gave its automated pop-up agents that offer deals to consumers about to leave the e-commerce site. The web site’s conversion rate and revenue have increased nearly 10% since implementing the technology.

When Jeff Gardner was about to leave an e-commerce site he was exploring last year, the site popped up a window with a message from a sales agent offering him a discount if he completed a purchase. With a little digging, Gardner, chief marketing officer at, discovered that the message came not from a live agent, but from an automated system called the Smartsales Agent from UpSellit.

Seeking to increase conversions on his own site, Gardner decided to try out the UpSellit technology for a few months, going live in November 2007. As soon as a consumer tries to click off the checkout page the pop-up appears, the retailer says. “We were totally taken aback by how much revenue we were able to drive through it,” he says. Gardner says both conversion rate and revenue are up nearly 10% since using the UpSellit technology to offer a 10% discount to consumers who click off the site.

There were no upfront fees or development costs to integrate the pop-up technology into the site’s checkout page, Gardner says. What’s more, he only pays UpSellit when its technology leads to a sale. He would not disclose the commission percentage., which sells batteries, adapters and other accessories for laptops, mobile phones and other devices, has tested various ways of using the UpSellit technology, including the names to use for the agent addressing the consumer. “UpSellit told us a simulated female agent converts better than a male agent, and we tested that right out of the gate and found it to be true,” Gardner says. He says the names that work best on his site are Samantha, Kelly and Elizabeth. He plans to test in 2009 smaller and larger discounts, free shipping, and adding the agent to more pages on the web site.

Gardner says he also has acquired useful information by examining the questions consumers ask the simulated agent. He learned that some consumers were having trouble finding the right battery or adapter for their device, and used that information to improve the cross-referencing of products on the site. That led to improved sales as more consumers were able to find the accessories they sought.

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