Biometrics for eCommerce Marketing


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What does Biometrics Mean Exactly?

This is a relatively new concept on the digital marketing scene. And don’t worry, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. Basically, the principles of psychological testing are applied to measure the effectiveness of websites (transactional, or eCommerce most specifically), to the landscape of digital marketing. But want to know more of the nitty-gritty? It’s used to test and record user responses during site interactions. These interactions take place on retailers websites, apps, or both, with the intention of identifying pain points in the journey that can be refined. Emotional arousal and stress reactions are measured to achieve this data collection. This is then collated to provide insights on the findings.

Biometrics User Testing - Space Between
Subject Connected to Galvanic Skin Response Kit while conducting Website User Session. (Source: Space Between Ltd).

How does Biometrics Testing Work?

Using qualitative and quantitative data, a sample of a retailer’s user base are tested. This identifies the opportunities to refine their digital transaction processes by quickly noticing trends in the data reports, and implementing the required updates. Selecting subjects is based on matching users to the demographic profiles of the eCommerce retailer undergoing the testing. Subjects are set up in a Biometric Laboratory to conduct the experiment, guaranteeing consistency in the testing environment and minimising the risk of environmental contamination of the results. The testing includes various measures. The include (but are not limited to) Eye Tracking (what the subjects are looking at on screen), Mouse Tracking (what the subjects mouse is doing on screen), Galvanic Skin Response (similar to polygraph testing in measuring palm sweat levels) and Facial Expression Analysis and Attention Analysis (captured with various user cameras during the testing session). Subjects are also usually required to provide direct feedback on their experience interacting with the retailers website. This generally takes place using a series of surveys and questionnaires. Each subject is given a list of different tasks to complete on the website. This may include searching for a specific item on the website (such as a frozen food item, or a pair of women’s trousers), and then proceed through the various stages of profile creation and basket checkout. The testing process takes around one hour per subject, but it is highly valuable to highlighting key issues with eCommerce and functionality and overall usability. Remember not to panic about finding thorns that you didn’t expect – that is the purpose of the exercise. It’s also possible to achieve a deeper level of analysis. This involves repeating the testing process, with the same subjects, but this time performing test on a competitor retailers website. This technique highlights the differences between two or more eCommerce sites, for both positive and negative features of the User Experience (UX).

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” Bill Gates.

Biometric Testing and Facial Recognition Analysis - Space Between
Subject Facial Analysis recording and data feed during User Session (Source: Space Between Ltd).

How are Biometrics Applied?

Biometric Testing’s early adopters are (unsurprisingly) the mega eCommerce Retailers. Think big: online supermarkets like WholeFoods, travel booking sites like, and marketplaces like Amazon. What do they all have in common? Huge online sales and huge traffic volumes. When it comes to optimization, or refinement of these types of eCommerce websites, even the smallest of tweaks can make a difference that achieves millions of dollars in more sales. Their common interest is simple. It’s in achieving total eCommerce refinement. Why? Because they are in the business of providing the ultimate User Experience. So are all eCommerce retailers. With the benefits of Biometrics now being recognised by smaller businesses, and rightfully so, the face of this niche industry is starting to change. As awareness grows, so does competition in optimization and conversion. In a culture where a smooth online experience is vital to growing and maintaining successful and profitable business, user expectations are constantly adapting. This doesn’t just apply to the mega businesses anymore. Online consumers have now come to expect this level of preemptive service for all of their eCommerce interactions.

Amazon eCommerce Website
Biometrics User Testing – Applied by the Big eCommerce Retailers (Source: Christian Wiediger, Unsplash)

What Are the Next Steps?

If you are in eCommerce business, the time has come to seriously consider if Biometric Testing is a method that your marketing team should be adopting. Generally speaking, the greater the traffic of a retailers site, the greater the potential is for them to achieve serious and fast results. If you’re only just a newbie on the scene, the timing may not be right for you. If you have a robust eCommerce presence and a solid marketing team, this could be your next big thing. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and UX are becoming hot topics on the digital marketing and eCommerce beats, and are being held high on the agenda for many businesses for 2019. It’s time to ask yourself if a Biometric Testing Strategy would be a useful next step. Remember, users expect a seamless experience for any digital journey. The only way to truly test how users interact with a site, and to honestly know what their known (and subconscious) pain points are, is to apply Biometric Testing.

Shelley Grierson
Shelley is Director of Marketing for UK-based UX Biometrics and CRO agency, Space Between. She hasover 15 years of marketing experience, and is particularly interested in Consumer Psychology, Global Strategy and Brand Amplification, leveraging both digital & traditional channels. Outside of work, she is a finalist in the #MsGreatBritain pageant.


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