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Webtogs is an e-commerce startup that launched in 2007 and focuses on outdoor clothing and equipment.
I've been taking a closer look at its website, as well as talking to Webtogs co-founder Philip Wilkinson about the design, and how the business is doing nearly 12 months after launch...
For a small, independent retailer, the homepage (and the site is general) has a very professional look to it, something which will immediately help to build trust in the mind of a new visitor.
Free delivery is offered on orders over £50, and Webtogs makes this clear to anyone visiting the site by displaying this at the top of the page, thus removing one potential obstacle to a purchase decision straight away.
Brands are heavily promoted, with a scroller displaying logos which users can click on to see products in that range. According to Philip, the site's shoppers are very brand conscious, so this makes sense.
One interesting feature allows users to limit the products they see to men's gear or women's gear, which instantly narrows the search down.
The product pages are impressive, and tick plenty of boxes in terms of e-commerce best practice.
Items are showcased from a range of angles and can be zoomed in, giving customers enough to decide whether or not to buy, while a nice, clear call to action is provided in text which stands out from the rest of the page.
Other good features include the scroller bar showing related products and prices, though I did have trouble when trying to change the products shown here. This only happened on IE7 though; no such problems on Firefox.
As previously mentioned, I like the clarity when it comes to delivery charges. Free delivery is displayed next to the price and, for items under the threshold, customers are encouraged to spend a little more to be able to take advantage of this offer.
This seems to have been an effective sales tool, as Philip has noticed more customers adding extra items to their basket after Webtogs decided to add this feature to product pages.
Basket / checkout
Webtogs' founders clearly gave the shopping basket design plenty of thought before launch, and the results are impressive.
The basket link is on the top right, where most shoppers would expect to find it, while hovering over the link provides a useful reminder of items already added:
The main basket page contains a useful summary, small pictures of products added give a visual reminder, while information on delivery costs and despatch times, prices, are all there.
Along with most of the calls to action on the site, the checkout button stands out ad leaves no room for doubt. The site also recognises that I have not placed order on Webtogs before, and offers me contact details should I require reassurance.
The checkout process is as near as possible to being completely enclosed as it can get. The only link out if the process is to click on the logo and get back to the homepage; all other links to other areas of the site have been removed.
This means customers are neatly funneled through the process, and there are no potential distractions. If customers have a question at this stage, a contact number has been provided.
What is also impressive here is that, even if customers click back to the homepage, either by mistake or to add and change items, clicking back onto checkout returns them to the exact point where they left the process, thus removing the need to re-enter details and taking away a potential source of frustration.
I also talked to Philip about some of the aspects of the site's design, as well as Webtogs' progress so far...
How has it gone since launch? Are you profitable yet?
We launched last October, a few weeks later than anticipated, but things have gone well so far. Originally, we had planned to use a small business unit for the first year, but we ended up having to move to a warehouse ten times bigger after just three months.
We aren't profitable yet, but we are almost breaking even, which we are pleased with after less than a year trading.
How have you marketed Webtogs?
By taking a multi-channel approach, though PPC accounts for 40 / 50% of our marketing activity, though we have also been keen to improve our SEO. This is a longer term project as you know, but we are starting to see some encouraging results a few months in.
What kinds of changes have you made to the site since launch?
There was no data at launch to decide on the best way to design the site, so much of it was guesswork at first, and we just tried to keep it as simple as possible.
Now, we are constantly tweaking and testing, and measuring the results. We treat A/B testing almost as part of our marketing efforts; I would recommend spending on this more than marketing, as it can produce better results.
Things like changing the layout and moving key features above the fold have helped; moving the alternative product photos where they can be seen more easily has improved conversion rates.
Putting the information about free delivery at the top of every page has also helped. People were saying they didn't have this information until they got to the product pages.
Telling customers that they can get free delivery if they spend a bit more has persuaded a few more to add items to their baskets, and also reduced the number of people calling in to ask about charges.
What kinds of queries are your customer service staff handling?
We get plenty of product queries, but a lot of people call in to make sure that items on the site actually are in stock, and that they will be delivered on time.
This information is provided on the site, but I think most people are seeking reassurance. They may have had disappointing experiences at other websites and are less inclined to trust what they see on screen as a result.
Effective customer service can also be a marketing tool, so we aim to satisfy customers so they will use us again and recommend Webtogs to their friends. 35% of our traffic is from repeat visitors, so I think excellent customer service helps, and is worth the investment.
For instance, we will call people if their orders will be delivered late to let them know, which is something customers appreciate. Also, we will try to answer emails as soon as we can.
Your checkout process is well enclosed, what was the thinking behind this?
We have always had the same design and I don't have an alternative version to compare it with, but we are happy with the way it works.
My philosophy is that, once someone has gone from the basket to the checkout they have decided to make a purchase, so why distract them with anything else?
It's like filling your trolley and reaching the checkout at Tesco, only to change your mind, leave your shopping there and drive home instead!
Are you planning to add reviews to Webtogs?
This is on our to-do list; we're convinced by the arguments for reviews increasing conversions so we plan to add this feature soon.
We have looked at adding third party review features from companies like Bazaarvoice and Reevoo, but we have decided to build our own reviews engine, which will give us more control. Video reviews will also be added to the site.