February 15, 2011, 10:26 AM

Small changes can produce big results

Merely adding security seals bolstered Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ conversion rate 4%.

Lead Photo

Reid Greenberg speaking today at IRWD 2011 about how tweaks can help e-commerce sites.

Retailers don’t need to overhaul their sites to get significant results—small tweaks can also bolster sales, Reid Greenberg, director of e-commerce and direct channels at online retailer Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, said today at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference 2011 in Orlando.

For instance, when Green Mountain Coffee Roasters added a VeriSign security seal to its checkout pages in the fourth quarter of 2009, the retailer’s conversion rates increased 4%.

“When a visitor comes to our site, we want to make them feel safe,” he said during a session entitled, “10 simple things you can do next week to boost your conversion rates.” “The seal is a great way to take fear away and tell consumers you can trust us.”

Retailers have to pay heed to the ways that consumers arrive at a site—with more consumers navigating to product pages not from a home page but from search results or ads, data show that consumers are visiting 7.5% fewer pages while on a merchant’s site, he said. To cope with that shift, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters added a pop-up window with product details and an Add to Cart button that appears when a consumer mouses over a product on a category page. The move increased the site’s conversion rate 4% and boosted the number of items added to consumer’s carts 2%.

Testing how consumers use a site is essential to understanding what changes need to be made, said Lynn Stetson, senior director of e-commerce marketing and site merchandising at OnlineShoes.com, during the same session. However, testing doesn’t require substantial resources. Sites like UserTesting.com, which charges $39 per tester for an hour session, can allow a retailer to quickly and inexpensively gauge the potential ramifications of a site tweak. Tests with just five to seven testers will reveal 80-90% of the usability problems on a site, Stetson added.

Those tests can also help retailers design a clearer visual hierarchy on their sites so that important information, such as free shipping offers and generous exchange policies are clearly visible, she said.

For instance, the retailer has long had its value propositions—free shipping, free returns and a 365-day return policy on its product pages. But when consumers visited the pages, they didn’t notice them. By moving the value proposition next to the Add to Cart button it posted a 20% increase in consumers’ clicking to Add to Cart.

However, just because that tweak worked for OnlineShoes.com doesn’t mean it will work on another retailer’s site, she said.

“Don’t take what experts say as gospel or law,” she said. “Observe your own site, experiment and test often so you can learn what works best.”

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