Nuts & Bolts: A User Friendly Site Equals Profit
Challenge: Online retailer’s sales flat, Web site difficult to traverse
Solution: Optimize Web site for navigation and on-site search
Result: 45 percent increase in conversions, 100 percent increase in units sold per visit
Online gift retailer Delightful Deliveries was in a slump. Sales at the eight-year-old company were steady, but slow, and far below the expectations of founder and CEO Eric Lituchy. Lituchy decided the site needed a radical update with an eye toward optimization.
“Before, our search results were coming up all or none,” Lituchy explains. “We’d either be at the top of natural search lists or not at all. And although our products were pretty well categorized, they weren’t broken down into subcategories, so there really wasn’t a way to cross reference what you were looking for.”
Lituchy illustrates it this way: If you wanted a gift for a woman’s birthday for under $50, you could go to www.delightfuldeliveries.com and find gifts for women, gifts for birthdays and gifts for less than $50, but each in separate categories with no comprehensive way to find just the gift you wanted.
So, last June, after three months of researching search optimization options and vendors, he called in Mercado Software, a provider of e-commerce and merchandising solutions. By implementing Mercado’s CSN product, Delightful Deliveries was able to subcategorize every product it sells, from cookies to gift baskets to fresh flowers. Customers now can search using multiple criteria, such as gifts, then birthdays, women and a price to get the full range of products fitting all those categories. The ability to subcategorize its products not only improved the e-tailer’s on-site search capabilities so users can quickly find what they want, but also its rankings in natural search results.
A time stamp feature built into the software enables the marketer to automatically change the look of the entire site based on a pre-programmed date or time. For instance, it can switch from a Thanksgiving theme to a Christmas theme on Dec. 1 at midnight. The product lines, sales and discounts can be programmed to change at the same time as well, replacing the turkeys and cornbread stuffing with fruitcakes and tree ornaments. And each page now has a different scrolling, clickable banner to access discounts or incentives unique to the products on that page. Seasonal, specialty or overstocked items immediately are assigned the most prominent positions on the page, allowing for increased conversions and unit sales.
Instead of burying “best sellers” at the bottom of the page, Lituchy says, Delightful Deliveries puts the most popular items up top thanks to the advice of Mercado. This simple solution doubled the sales of the e-tailer’s “best sellers” on a monthly basis. An added bonus is its ability to test different products by increasing or decreasing their visibility on the site.
The improvements made to the Web site provide for what Lituchy calls “dynamic interaction” with his customers. As he describes it, dynamic interaction is what keeps customers engaged, involved and clicking. If the Web site is easy to use, informative and fun, then customers stay longer and buy more.
“Each little thing we did to change the site began to reap dividends right from the beginning,” says Lituchy. Before going live with the Web site optimizations in June, he says, the company’s average sale was about $60. Today, it’s double that.
In the six months since implementing the new software, Delightful Deliveries has seen a 50 percent increase in orders per visit, a 45 percent conversion increase and a whopping 100 percent increase in units bought per visit.
Lituchy sums up his advice to online marketers in one word: optimize.
“When your Web site is user friendly, and navigation of your site is as simple as you can possibly make it, your sales will increase. The bottom line is the bottom line.”