January 26, 2011, 2:08 PM

Evo boosts conversion with homegrown technology

The sporting goods merchant sees a lift in conversion with a new comparison tool.

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Evo, which sells sporting gear such as skis, snowboards and skateboards, noticed that shoppers often would put several items into a shopping cart and then leaving the site without buying. The retailer suspected shoppers were using the cart to list items and basic data such as size and price because they had no other way of keeping track of their product research. That assumption led evo to develop a product comparison tool.

“A lot of our items are hard goods that need to be compared and contrasted and people were having difficulty doing that on our site,” says Nathan Decker, senior manager of e-commerce, at evo, No. 429 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “We decided to build our own comparison tool. We feel proud of what we built.”

Using technology known as Ajax, or asynchronous JavaScript and XML, evo built a comparison tool that launched Jan. 8. Since then shoppers using it have converted at a 434% higher rate and are averaging a 554% higher ticket than those not using the tool.

The technology lets shoppers compare multiple products and categories across the site. For example, a shopper looking for ski gear can first look for skis and click the Select to Compare box appearing under the ski listings, and then she can search ski bindings and click on the comparison box again for those types of products. When she wants to compare everything selected, she can click Compare Selections under the product listings to view the items side by side and grouped by category.

Information about each product appears beneath the items.

“It has a freeze pane feature to keep selections organized and still associate them with price as you scroll,” says Decker. Shoppers can easily remove products by clicking on the Remove button in the product box, which then shifts the remaining products to the left.

The tool also allows shoppers to send their product comparisons to others or e-mail the list to themselves for later use. They can also post the products they’re comparing on a Facebook page.

Decker says the technology has been helpful for its internal team, too. “Our customer care team is using it a lot when they’re talking to people on the phone. It’s helping them get through calls faster and answer customer questions quicker. Instead of clicking through products and taking notes at each step, now they can use the tool and come to a better solution—faster,” says Decker.

The comparison tool is helping evo get off to a good start in 2011 after ending 2010 on a high note with $19.7 million in online sales, up by about 27% from $15.5 million in 2009.

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