Why A/B testing is essential to improving ecommerce sales right now


The retail landscape is changing fast and failing to adapt could cost you — just look at the onslaught of retailers closing brick and mortar stores this year from Payless to Dressbarn. An increasing number of consumers are taking their shopping online or on mobile. To survive, retailers have to shore up their online stores and mobile experiences through ecommerce A/B testing to optimize and boost sales.

Why you need to A/B test for Ecommerce

There are several developments in the retail arena that make A/B testing a critical ingredient in any ecommerce strategy:

1. Omnichannel drives digital sales

Consumers today interact with multiple physical and digital channels, including in-store, on the retailer’s website or mobile app, email, or social media, before making a purchase. While ecommerce maintains its position as a strong channel, accounting for 15% of all retail sales, we see mobile commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, making up to 50% of transactions last year.

However, these figures don’t tell the entire story. Consumers may start their journey on one of your channels and end up making their purchase on another one. They might browse items on mobile and end up completing their purchase on your website, or they might test out their items at your brick-and-mortar location and then buy them on mobile.

A recent report found that 35% of consumers say they continue to visit brick-and-mortar retailers because they like handling items before committing to buy them online, while 33% prefer mobile apps due to the frictionless, low-impact purchasing experience.

Whichever touchpoint they started their journey on, they will likely interact with your website, mobile website, or mobile app before buying from you.

Why A/B testing matters: As the customer journey grows increasingly omnichannel, both purely ecommerce retailers and those with brick-and-mortar stores need to optimize and personalize their digital experiences to capture sales. This is where A/B testing is helpful.

If a customer is browsing products, you can split test the product images or descriptions both online and on mobile to see which leads to more conversions. Let’s say a customer has added items to their online cart and you want to nudge them to buy now. In that case, you might consider A/B testing the mobile checkout page with a free shipping offer or experiment with a more streamlined process to ease the checkout process.

Through A/B testing, you’ll be able to drive ecommerce sales through key channels and double down on the most effective incentives or offerings.

2. Shortening consumer attention spans

The modern shopper is impatient and has a shorter attention span than ever before. Most of the time, ecommerce retailers have just seconds to grab their attention.

If your retail website hasn’t loaded by the time you finish reading this sentence, chances are your would-be customer is already long gone. About 50% of consumers abandon online experiences that take longer than three seconds to load.

They are also spending less time on ecommerce apps, with the average consumer taking less than 60 seconds to check it out.

That means, if you’re not immediately capturing their attention, you’re not just looking at lost sales but also wasted advertising dollars. Despite your best efforts to get potential customers onto your ecommerce website or to download your mobile app, they will fail to convert without instant engagement.

Why A/B testing matters: Since high stakes are riding on your first impression, you can turn to A/B testing to nail that first interaction. Following an app download, you may want to run experiments on the first-run experience. Should you show the user a straight-forward registration page or provide a tutorial? Should you allow users to login with their social accounts or by email? If you ask the user to select some categories in the beginning to personalize their browsing experience, would this result in higher click-through rates? These are all questions that can be answered through A/B testing.

As you witness your conversions climb from A/B testing, you can use more A/B tests to optimize even further. For example, you can show different first-run experiences to users coming in from your Google Adwords campaigns and those referred from a partner site.

3. Expansion of loyalty programs

As acquiring new customers proves more challenging, retailers are looking for ways to retain their existing customer base by cultivating loyalty.

At least 74% of retailers worldwide have started loyalty programs that let shoppers earn points or rewards on their purchases. Some loyalty programs offer members a point for every dollar spent and allow them to redeem points for discounts. Others give loyalists access to exclusive events or give them surprise gifts.

Many retailers are also offering their loyalty programs through a mobile app, catering to the 77% of shoppers who prefer to store their loyalty information on their smartphones.

Why A/B testing matters: Keeping your loyal customer base happy means more profits. A/B testing can help you make their experience of earning and redeeming points as streamlined and delightful as possible.

You can test where and how to display their points online or on the mobile app to encourage engagement. If you show the number of points they’re short of to reach a reward milestone, would that boost sales among members close to that milestone? How about testing different types of rewards to see which encourage more loyalty sign-ups? For loyalty members using their mobile app to collect points, what’s the best experience for higher levels of engagement?

To read more about retail trends shaping ecommerce right now, download our eBook: State of Retail: Sellers Must Shore Up Their On-The-Go Channels to Survive.

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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