Online retailing may have fared better than other sales channels during the recession but some categories, especially luxury, saw sales struggle. One strategy taken to improve conversion rates has been Web site improvement. A recently published article in Internet Retailer highlights specific changes that marketers might consider in order to boost sales.
Tom Funk, vice president of marketing for Timberline Interactive, a Middlebury, VT, web site design firm says " [b]y spotting and fixing even simple design problems as soon as they crop up, a retailer can see a double-digit lift in conversion rates." While online retailers may have redesigned their sites every two or three years during boom times, they should instead look at smaller issues such as simplifying an overly busy and confusing home page or ensuring that the Add to Cart icon appears on every page.
Marketers analyze site search keyword patterns to understand what’s happening but a better approach to improved operations may be to listen to customers and understand what they are looking for. The article cited customer reviews and comments as the best source for this information. User feedback has prompted some online retailers to replace static images with product videos. Others have improved site technology to allow users to zoom and view products from a variety of angles. One retailer featured in this article, CarolinaRustica.com, serves consumers who are well over age 50. Management realized that these consumers could not locate the search button on the site and subsequently redesigned the site. After the search button was easier to find, site search queries and sales both increased.
As more competitors open shop online, retailers will need to carefully watch user behavior on their e‑commerce site. Small changes designed to target specific demographic groups can yield big returns. Online retailers can spend part of their ad budget on display ads or search terms, but they must remember that their home page and basic site navigation also serve as major marketing tools.[Brohan, Mark. The Dollars are in the Details, Internet Retailer, February 2010]