Around this time of year, UK retailers embrace “Mega Monday”, traditionally the first Monday in December after payday, when consumers gear up to put their credit cards to good use and stock up on stocking-fillers ahead of Christmas.
This year, Mega Monday falls on December 2, and with virtual retail becoming an exponentially more favourable means of shopping for many consumers, this year it is predicted to be the busiest online shopping day of the whole year.
To set the scene, research by Barclays shows how two-thirds of high-street retailers anticipate their website traffic to rise by 11 per cent on Mega Monday – a percentage worth taking into consideration by shops and stockists of every ilk. Visa also reported last year that saw sales of £320m made on its credit and debit card services, and this year’s festive season is set to continue its upward trajectory.
Equally relevant is how consumers are using mobile devices and tablets to shop. This means websites need to look immaculate, inviting and adaptable to mobile interfaces; the same way they would on the physical premises, or from their computer screens.
This is the golden goose for online retailers, but it needs a little consideration. Businesses must get ahead of the game to improve web user experience and boost e-commerce success in order to capitalise on this time of the year.
Given that every retail business is jostling for position during the festive period, it is crucial for businesses to have their websites looking as inviting and attractive to consumers as possible. This is also a great opportunity for companies to invest in repeat business and establish a wider customer base. Retailers should look toward optimising their websites so that users will click through and begin to establish a relationship with the site and its products.
In light of these points, we’ve provided a few top tips to help you optimise your website ahead of the big day:
1. Run an A/B test, or better, run two
Simple enough; make sure you run A/B tests on your key pages in order to optimise your website. This is an easy enough solution that in-house staff can run to save you time and money you might have spent outsourcing, without sacrificing the best results.
2. Keep features simple
Keep layout features simple; don’t overcrowd your pages so that site visitors tire of the visual complexity and seek something simpler.
Keep language simple, rather than using “flat rate shipping”, why not try “free shipping” to clarify what the offer really means.
Be careful of colour-coding; blue font might imply hyperlinks, so avoid confusing font colours with click-through links.
Make sure you don’t distract visitors with reviews taking prominence over product features – make it clear where reviews can be found, but keep product details clear and available as first port of call.
3. Put your visitors at ease
Try not to over-emphasise security features as this can create anxiety. Security should be something users can check if they’re concerned, but don’t add in potentially alarming icons of the security measures your site has in place. We have seen example tests where such imagery has actually made browsers more cautious and less likely to click through.
Let them feel that your site has everything under control, overly-reassuring visitors of your security measures could, paradoxically, have the reverse effect.
4. Be inquisitive
Rather than asking whether test A will outperform test B, ask instead, “How does this type of imagery in test B compare to that type of imagery in test A?”
Think first about the results you’re aiming for. If you want people to click through on “view complete range”, ask yourself how you can optimise the layout of the site to guide them through.
In general, rather than asking, “What are the variations we are testing?”, consider asking, “What question are we trying to answer?” as a means to get more effective and relevant results. Are you trying to see if a visitor will respond better to bolder colours/fonts or to clearer language? Consider first what you want the answers to be, then design tests around those enquiries.
5. Avoid conceptual strategies
Be sure to define the broad question trying to be answered on your website, and determine the simplest and easiest way to validate that concept.
Don’t be too abstract, thematic approaches to pages won’t be as effective as specific – be clear rather than conceptual. Product images will outperform lifestyle images. For instance, if your aim is to sell clothes, then display the items clearly and vividly, rather than setting a ‘lifestyle’ scene – which has often been proven to be less effective than the former.
Matt Althauser is European GM of Optimizely.
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