Retail, in the eyes of the everyday customer

new ideas and thoughts about the online retail world

Message from Our CEO

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Your story matters, especially for first time visitors.  This isn’t an opinion, it’s data fact.  Inc. 500 award winner (#1 in travel category) Regal Wings knows this, which is why when you land on their site regalwings.com you’re shown this floating tab—

Regalwings.com_Tab

I love floating mini tabs because they take up very little screen space but are hard to miss.  For their tab Regal Wings uses the line “Message from Our CEO” and on click show this company overview video—

I like the tactic but hate the execution (the video is pretty uninspiring).  If you’ve going to use this idea please create a more interesting video story.

Note: Video doesn’t need to be produced in a professional studio.  It just needs be authentic.  Also, it’s a myth that shoppers will not watch videos longer than 3 minutes.  If you have an interesting story, they will watch.

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May 25, 2015 at 5:15 am

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Strange Shape Popup

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4allpromos.com wants first time visitors to signup to their mailing list, and in return receive free shipping.  To communicate this they show a truck shaped popup with background shadow effect—

4allpromos.com_Popup

I guess if you’re going to show a popup might as well make it interesting looking.

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May 18, 2015 at 5:21 am

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The Most Effective Reviews

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For most online retailers, once product reviews have been enabled their job is done.  The thinking goes that if, after turning on reviews shoppers don’t post reviews it’s clearly their fault— they obviously didn’t have anything to say.  But superstar retailers like LifeSource Water don’t think this way.  LifeSource sells water filtration systems, and on their site they’ve managed to collect 1,376 custom reviews.  Not lame reviews like “This works!” but real reviews that tell a story—

My wife Nancy and I share the common goal of building a non-toxic, sustainable living environment. LifeSource was the obvious choice since the system is eco-friendly and requires absolutely no maintenance which isn’t something that you often find in a water filtration system. Knowing that our family has access to clean water through every tap in our home provides us with with much peace of mind and we highly recommend this system for anyone interested in improving their quality of life.

The example above was randomly selected, all their reviews are amazing.

LifeSource’s ability to get shoppers to care enough to compose a meaningful review is itself amazing.  There is no way a shopper would send such a review if LifeSource’s review request email said “We’d love your feedback”.  No.  The reason these shoppers are writing these emotive reviews is because there is magic in LifeSource’s review request email.  I don’t know what they’re asking or how they’re asking it but it’s clearly working.

And just to prove that they’re in a totally different league not only has LifeSource been able to collect 1,376 product reviews they’ve also managed to get 465 reviewers to submit a photo of themselves standing by their LifeSource filter.  How the heck did they get 465 reviewers to go through the trouble taking a picture next to their LifeSource and then send it over??  Check it out— https://www.lifesourcewater.com/customer_testimonials.php

Don’t make the mistake of assuming these reviews are only because LifeSource is an amazing product.  LifeSource might be an amazing product but these reviews are the efforts of some marketing genius who works for LifeSource.

If you know of other retailers that leverage customer reviews in a clever way please do share …

Written by betterretail

May 11, 2015 at 5:35 am

Addressing Shipping Times Upfront

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Intheswim.com does something different. They use IP geotargeting to figure out location of visitors and show shipping times on top of page (even before the shopper gets to product page or starts checkout flow). In my case shipping time was 1 day—

Intheswim.com_Top_Nav

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May 4, 2015 at 5:21 am

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Beautiful Design Can Hurt Conversions

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Here is a screenshot of the top half of mytarp.com—

Mytarp.com_HP

Spend 30 seconds looking at it and tell me which page element grabbed your attention the strongest.








[Don’t scroll down till you’ve made your selection]










For me it was the ugly neon green “Custom Made Tarps” message. Assuming mytarp.com makes highest margin on their custom products (which they most likely do) getting homepage visitors to click “Custom Made Tarps” is a super serious business goal. And I’m pretty sure that ugly neon sign is getting the highest number of homepage clicks.

Had mytarp.com CEO hired a world class graphic designer for $500/hour she would likely have got a really amazing graphical element for “Custom Made Tarps” but it would most certainly have a click-through rate that’s lower than our ugly neon message. But if that $500/hour graphic designer can’t improve custom made tarp sales then what’s their purpose?

Design has diminishing returns. Let’s set 3 design levels— ‘horrible’, ‘neat & clear’, and ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’. If horrible design costs x, ‘neat & clear’ will cost you 2x and ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’ will cost you 8x. ‘Horrible’ design hurts conversions so moving from ‘horrible’ design to ‘neat and clear’ is the right thing to do every single time. But the relative difference between ‘neat and clear’ and ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’ is so small that it’s pretty much best to avoid ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’. I’m not saying all ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’ projects are bad but in order to pull off a ‘mind-blowingly beautiful’ design the ecommerce entrepreneur himself needs to have a very good understanding of great design. If that isn’t you then don’t spend your money on that super amazing designer you heard about. Chances are this designer doesn’t understand ecommerce and will defend his work even if it leads to net lower conversion rates. If you’re the type of ecommerce entrepreneur who doesn’t focus on metrics like conversion rate then you should ignore this post. For the rest of you keep this advice in mind as you plan your next site redesign.

Written by betterretail

April 27, 2015 at 5:28 am

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Discount Code Location

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These days many sites have promos where they offer shoppers a discount if they ‘comment on’ or ‘like’ their brand on Facebook.  Most display these promos on landing pages or product pages.  While those location are OK the best idea is to do what saatvamattress.com does, they show their message on cart page, where it has the highest chance to getting the shopper’s attention and generating action—

Saatvamattress.com_cart_page

Written by betterretail

April 20, 2015 at 5:29 am

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Add to Cart to See Price

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Sleepdirect.com has an interesting strategy where they let shoppers know a 48 hour sale is in effect but to see discounted price the shopper needs to add item to cart.  Is that a conversion killer or booster?

Sleepdirect.com_Product_Page

Written by betterretail

April 13, 2015 at 6:15 am

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