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Nov 22, 2005
Case Study

Eretail Merchandise Page Design – Before & After Cross-Selling Test Results

SUMMARY: Merchandise page design is a constantly debated by eretailers. On one hand you want to increase the number of shoppers on a particular page who add that item to their carts. On the other hand, you want to cross-sell related merchandise. This year Baseball Express tested moving around add-to-cart buttons versus “items you might also like” cross-sell links. Conversions leapt. Get the data plus before-and-after design samples in this quick Case Study.
CHALLENGE
25% of Baseball Express’ million-plus customers buy online these days instead of via the company’s print catalog.

Internet Analyst Richard Calentine spends his days examining reports, trying to figure out where he’d get the biggest bang for the site re-vamp buck.

His first step was to lower the shopping cart abandonment rate by reducing and fine-tuning the steps required to check out. Online sales improved by 10%.

Next he turned his attentions to the step immediately before the cart -– individual merchandise page design. How could he improve the conversion rates so more shoppers added more to their carts in the first place?

CAMPAIGN
Aside from the product picture, which clearly belonged in the upper left side of the page, each merchandising page had three more elements that needed to be weighed against each other; which should get the prime real-estate and which should be relegated to below-the-fold?

o Merchandise details – colors, availability, etc.

o Add to cart button

o Cross-sales – also known as the "you might also be interested in" hotlinks section.

In the past, Baseball Express had put the cross-sales links to the right side of the page, where a shopper’s eye might look after examining the merchandise at the left. This is a traditional spot where many retailers put cross-sale links, for two reasons:

Reason #1. Upsales to buyers

Many shoppers hit their back button immediately after placing an item in their cart in order to continue shopping. This means they start on the page they just ordered from. So, it’s the best place to catch their attention with likely upsales.

Reason #2. Cross-sales to undecideds

The extra links are a way marketers hedge their bets. If a shopper enters the store at that particular merchandise page (frequent with search marketing these days), or if they just aren’t sure the product they’re looking at is right for them, the cross-sales links entice them with alternatives that are more related to their demonstrated interest than the generic navigation bar may offer.

However, Calentine worried that all this attention on cross-sales might be distracting from the page’s main purpose, to convert sales for a particular item.

So he tested a redesign that gave over all prime above-the-fold real estate to merchandising and buy-buttons. The cross-sales were still on the page, but much further down.

Would it work?



RESULTS
The bet paid off. With the add-to-cart button and merchandize details moved up more prominently, individual merchandise page conversions rose by 41%.

Plus, the average number of products a customer added to their cart in a shopping trip rose slightly from 2.5 items per order to 2.7 items per order. Why would people add more items if the cross-sales were less noticeable? Our theory is that a shopper coming "back" from a successful add-to-cart click is more engaged and ready to buy again than a newbie. And thus psychologically more likely to go the extra mile and look below the fold.

Buoyed by these successful tests, Calentine now plans a sitewide revamp to launch in January 2006. We look forward to it.

Useful links related to this article

Before-and-after screenshots from JustListed.com's test: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/baseballexp/study.html

Coremetrics, Baseball Express’ analytics vendor http://www.coremetrics.com

Note: Baseball Express is a member of Shop.org, a forum for retailing online executives to share information, lessons-learned, new perspectives, insights and intelligence. More info at http://www.shop.org

Baseball Express http://www.baseballexpress.com

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