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If you’re not constantly testing and tweaking pages on your ecommerce site you could be missing out on potential sales.
But showing is always more powerful than telling, so I’m going to present you with some solid examples of A/B testing in action, along with the results.
Country clothing retailer A Hume first realised the benefits of testing back in 2012, when it redesigned its checkout login screen and billing details process.
According to James Abbott, the brand’s director of digital strategy and optimisation, the results were impressive.
"The test was quite a surprise," Abbott says. "We knew from all the best practice guides that configuring a guest checkout should deliver an uplift to checkout completion and conversion levels, but we never expected a lift of over 32%.
As a business it gave us the confidence to do more.
The company certainly did do more, running a number of tests on product and category pages to see where it could make improvements. And all of this has had a positive impact on the bottom line, Abbott says.
We have been working and deploying tests now for three years. During that time we have nearly doubled our conversion rate.
But Abbott believes even an adverse reaction to a test can be a good thing in the long run.
The negatives give you the reassurance you are doing the right thing. We learnt our lesson early in 2013 when we tried to integrate PayPal Express for the first time.
We had three calls to action and we added a fourth in the same style. Initial paper-based feedback had been positive so we deployed it into a test. Checkout abandonment increased by 20%.
Thankfully we were testing otherwise the long term impact does not bare thinking about.
Let’s take a look at three successful tests A Hume has carried out since last year.
Test 1: product page variation, July 2014
The first test revolved around product page imagery. A Hume wanted to test out moving the images to the left and then raising the selection process, call to action and messaging higher up the page.
It wanted to improve the user experience (UX) of the page by making the imagery the lead aspect, while making the call to action more visible on widescreen monitors and tablets.
You can see the original control page along with the updated version below.
Updated test page
Add-to-basket levels increased by 27.65%.
Test 2: category page variation, July 2015
A Hume’s tweed cap category page featured standalone product images, but it wanted to test whether or not the inclusion of lifestyle images with models wearing the products would improve click-through rates (CTR).
Below you can see a comparison between the original and updated pages.
Updated test page
CTR increased by 15.9%.
Test 3: Product page variation, September 2015
Following an online copywriting course with one of Econsultancy’s very own trainers, Tim Fidgeon, A Hume decided to put some of its new knowledge to the test.
It reworked the copy on its footwear product pages to make it more readable and easy to scan. At the same time it tested out a different approach to imagery.
Following advice from Tim, A Hume created both a short and long product description, made all the copy more concise and used headings and lists to improve the user experience.
For the images, the brand used stills from its HD videos to show boots stacked on top of each other to give a better overall view of the product.
“Having attended Econsultancy’s Usability and User Experience course, this had been on the test list for a while given the results we were shown in the case studies," Abbott says.
You can see the before and after images for these tests below.
Updated test page (text only)
Updated test page (text and imagery)
The text variation test resulted in an 8.21% increase in add-to-basket levels.
The second test including both text and image variation resulted in a 14.51% increase in add-to-basket levels.
Conclusion: little tweaks can go a long way
I’m sure you’ll agree that while they all had room for improvement, none of the original pages displayed above were particularly offensive.
But as you can see from the results shown here, even the smallest of changes can have a big impact on the way people engage with a site.
Every ecommerce site should be constantly testing its pages to see whether they can get a better response from visitors, even on pages that are already performing well.