Techniques Used by the Top Ten Converting Websites (Part 2)


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In Part 1, I wrote about how the Top 10 Converting Websites achieve spectacular website conversion rates by driving repeat sales. The second major conclusion of the SeeWhy /Nielsen research (published in an eBook titled ‘Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites’) is that the top ten converting websites use superior search and selection.

A core strength of all of these websites is merchandising. While some are better than others, all provide an experience where it is easy to browse. In fact, you could conclude that some are focused on making the shopping experience as pleasurable as possible. 

Some 60-70 percent of purchases are unplanned, and the top 10 converting websites have invested significantly in merchandising. 

For example, both Lands’ End and ProFlowers use dynamic display merchandising, which enables the visitor to view different product variations (such as colors) or combinations of products together. Lands’ End uses this technique to ensure more even sales across the range and ProFlowers to maximize cross-sell within the checkout process itself. Let’s take a look at both use cases: 

Lands’ End – Selling Across the Range 

Years ago, Lands’ End noticed that the items featured prominently in their catalogs outsold the other color variations by an order of magnitude. This causes issues related to availability and stock planning, based on which item is more heavily promoted by the merchandiser. As a result, Lands’ End changed the way products are displayed in their catalogs to show all color variants prominently. 

A visit to the Lands’ End website will show you how you can merchandise products more evenly.

However, this doesn’t solve the problem completely. In the picture above, the beige raincoat shown on the left hand side will still outsell the four other colors of this raincoat. Lands’ End deals with this by showing all color variations on the product selection page using a selectable color swatch. 

On their ‘Canvas’ pages, they go one step further, by showing the modeled outfit in different colors. Selecting the color box changes the picture dynamically, using image manipulation. Go and try it out. It’s very slick.

ProFlowers – Boosting Average Order Value Through Merchandising 

While this is particularly relevant to clothing, ProFlowers has demonstrated how effectively this technique can be used when matching flowers to vases. 

As shown in the two screen grabs below, the flowers remain the same, but the vase and background change to show the buyer the combination together. ProFlowers uses this technique very effectively to upsell during the checkout process.

This style of merchandising is far more sophisticated than simply listing all products of a given type separately and makes it much easier for the customer to choose. In many ways, these techniques mirror the way that we buy in stores: we’d put the bunch of flowers next to a series of vases to see which looked best and then choose the combination that we preferred. 

The top 10 converting websites have also invested in technologies to make it easy to find products that you are already familiar with; offer new suggestions based on best seller lists, reviews or analytics; and some make it easy to choose colors/combinations of products that are going to work best. Notably Amazon has built its own proprietary A9 search technology. 

On Friday, in the last of this series of blogs looking at the findings from our research into the Top Ten Converting Websites, we’ll examine the final conclusion, lifetime remarketing, and suggest some examples for you to look at on these sites. 

To get your copy of the eBook ‘Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites,’ simply click here

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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