How to Deploy Ecommerce Testing on Your Website
The internet has transformed retail in countless ways – starting with the fundamental ability to know what works, thanks to eCommerce testing.
Sure, traditional retailers could add up their receipts. Promotions were successful if shoppers turned in advertising coupons, or if products flew off end cap display shelves. But merchants didn’t have insights about how consumers discovered brands, researched products, or decided to buy.
With eCommerce, you have the opportunity to learn from every click, tap, or swipe. eCommerce testing provides a framework for measuring the impact of marketing and merchandising decisions.
Benefits of eCommerce Testing
Testing helps your online business run more effectively on multiple levels. Not only does testing improve one-time sales, but a better eCommerce site experience fosters customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty, too. Benefits of eCommerce website testing include:
- Deeper customer understanding. eCommerce testing reveals visitors’ behaviors and preferences, helping you align experiences with their needs. Using testing to guide business decisions ensures your priorities and customer expectations are in sync.
- Tailored marketing offers. Test results can form the basis for personalized site experiences, from content reflecting customers’ needs in the moment to discount offers and product picks aligned with their budgets. By testing different promotions and refining offers based on results, you can boost the revenue impact of every campaign.
- Glitch-free site performance. Integration of modular third-party apps or upgrades of existing systems can cause unforeseen problems. eCommerce performance testing of new features and functions thoroughly can prevent slow load times and navigation dead ends.
- Smoother cross-channel journeys. As shoppers hop from mobile device to laptop browser and back again, they expect a seamless experience from your brand. Testing can help identify and eliminate friction points.
The multifaceted benefits of eCommerce testing are clear. It’s not just about enhancing sales figures; it’s about crafting an online environment that understands and responds to the customer at every turn.
By aligning your business objectives with customer needs, personalizing marketing efforts, ensuring glitch-free performance, and smoothing out the cross-channel shopping experience, you create a robust platform that not only meets but anticipates customer demands.
Through eCommerce testing, businesses can achieve a harmonious balance between operational excellence and customer delight, setting a benchmark for the digital retail experience.
3 eCommerce Testing Types & Their Uses
Depending on the experience you’d like to test, you can structure the process in different ways in order to capture the most meaningful and actionable data. Options include:
- A/B/n Testing
An A/B/n test compares versions of an eCommerce site experience. Traffic is split equally among the options, and visitors’ interactions with each determine which is more effective. You can use two, three, or more eCommerce test cases at once.
A/B/n testing is effective for addressing a specific question or problem, or testing individual elements of a page – for example, the color scheme, the wording of a title headline, or the placement of the “buy” button. A/B/n testing isolates and quantifies the impact of potential changes.
You can also use A/B/n testing on a macro scale, to test the overall effect of a top-to-bottom redesign. Comparing performance of the current versus the new version of an entire page layout can be used as a final validation prior to launch.
- Multivariate Testing
With a multivariate test, you can compare different combinations of multiple elements of an experience at once. To determine the ideal layout of a product detail page, for example, you can run a multivariate test that compares different arrangements of images, reviews, and the “buy” button. Because there are so many potential combinations of layouts, traditional multivariate testing works best when you have enough traffic to ensure a valid sample size for each option.
With the rise of AI, new multivariate testing options now exist that hone in on the optimal combinations of elements and generate further refinements on the fly as the experiment continues. With this automation testing for eCommerce websites, predictive capabilities enable rapid test cycles without needing large sample sizes.
- Usability Testing
When you want to learn the “why” behind online visitor behavior, consider usability testing. Individuals perform a series of tasks on your eCommerce site or app and provide verbal or written feedback on what they liked and what confused them. Click data from testing sessions and heatmaps showing what website elements are most eye-catching capture the results in quantifiable format.
Usability testing can uncover unexpected insights. For example, you may assume that checkout abandonment is high due to the total order cost, but user testing might reveal that error messaging is unclear.
You can deploy a single test or combine them for added effectiveness.
For example, you could use an A/B/n test to determine which overall design template works best for a landing page, then run a multivariate test to identify the most effective layout of content and calls-to-action. Usability testing the final version prior to launch can uncover any unforeseen obstacles on the path to purchase.
Creating an Ecommerce Testing Strategy
In addition to selecting the type of test to use, other factors contribute to the success of your eCommerce site or app test. As you plan your testing strategy, take into account:
- Device-specific behaviors. Mobile will account for the majority of online sales this holiday season, according to Adobe – the latest sign that the small screen is the dominant online shopping paradigm. Any eCommerce tests you run should include a mobile component, with results from mobile devices reported separately from desktop sessions.
- Technical limitations. Ensure your eCommerce platform or app can support the types of tests you want to run. If you’re attempting to test behavior of elements with a cross-channel component, such as the efficiency of in-store pickup services, you may need to integrate data from other systems to get a full picture of the potential impact of changes.
- Seasonality. Time your tests appropriately to ensure you’re capturing the full range of visitor behavior. For example, most online shopping occurs in the evenings and on weekends, so your test should include those hours unless your focus is on workday browsing habits. You should also take into account variations in behavior surrounding peak season shopping and promotional periods; testing a permanent site change during the winter holidays may not accurately reflect its long-term impact.
To effectively navigate the complexities of eCommerce testing strategy, it’s essential to consider the broader context in which your customers interact with your platform. The increasing dominance of mobile shopping, the technical capabilities of your platform, and the seasonal patterns of consumer behavior all play pivotal roles in shaping a robust testing strategy.
By meticulously accounting for these factors, you can ensure that your testing efforts are not just reflective of current trends but are also predictive of future shifts in consumer engagement.
How to Execute an eCommerce Test in 6 Steps
To compare eCommerce experiences effectively, you need more than a couple of landing page designs to test. Careful planning and follow-through ensures that your test connects to your business goals and provides actionable insights. To get started, follow these steps:
- Define Goals. Specify which performance metrics you aim to impact so that your test delivers measurable results. Tests should reflect overall business priorities or revenue targets so that results guide decisions in alignment with organization-wide goals.
- Choose the right testing method. Select the type of test that best focuses on the metrics and eCommerce experiences you want to evaluate.
- Set up the test. Select the timeframe for the test to run, and specify parameters such as the target audience, device type, and eCommerce pages or app features to test. If you’re conducting usability testing, select participants and create the tasks and feedback questions they’ll complete.
- Run the test. Monitor results as they come in to determine whether the experiment is answering the question you set out to address. If needed, pause the test and tweak the parameters until you’re collecting the data you need.
- Analyze results. Compare performance metrics for the different experiences you tested and note any significant improvements. If you have unstructured qualitative data, synthesize responses to identify themes within the feedback. Using the data, select the most successful elements to implement sitewide.
- Implement/Iterate. Make the most of the data by using it not only to finalize a particular page template or button color, but to guide similar content and design decisions throughout your eCommerce offerings. Monitor results over the long term to prove or disprove the anticipated impact of the changes. Testing isn’t a one-time proposition; continually experiment with new elements of your eCommerce experience as you integrate new features and technologies.
Executing an eCommerce test is a structured journey towards enhancing your online presence. By defining goals, choosing appropriate testing methods, setting up and running the test, and then analyzing and implementing the results, you create a cycle of continuous improvement. This process is crucial for making data-driven decisions that align with your business’s broader objectives.
By adopting a disciplined approach to testing and iteration, you are not just making changes to your eCommerce site; you’re engaging in an ongoing dialogue with your customers’ needs and preferences. The result is a dynamic, user-centric online shopping experience that evolves alongside your market and technological advancements.
Choosing the Right Ecommerce Testing Tool
While technically you could run eCommerce tests manually using your existing analytics tool, it’s impractical to implement at scale. In addition, leveraging new AI capabilities to run dynamic experiments requires specialized expertise beyond what retail IT departments are typically equipped to handle.
With an automated solution, you can streamline test setup and implementation and generate comprehensive reports on results without needing additional staff resources. eCommerce testing services can even run multiple experiments simultaneously to boost the pace of optimization on your site.
Ease of implementation and access to robust data were crucial to sock maker Darn Tough, which partnered with Monetate to improve holiday performance. Darn Tough tested implementation of new payment methods, as well as special offers and messaging of time-sensitive shipping options. The clarity of test results helped guide decisions that led to an 8.4% lift in conversions and 12% increase in average order size.
As you consider testing options, check that vendors offer these key capabilities:
- Flexibility for different test formats. Different goals call for different types of tests, so your solution should support traditional A/B/n and multivariate testing as well as dynamic AI-powered “test and learn” deployments.
- Easy implementation. Testing solutions should integrate seamlessly with your eCommerce platform and existing analytics, and require minimal internal resources to deploy and maintain.
- Robust analytics. Reporting should go beyond raw data to highlight standout performance differences. Easy integration of social media, search and in-store behavior data should be available to provide a comprehensive view of test impacts.
Leveraging Testing for Ecommerce Success
In the realm of online retail, eCommerce testing is indispensable. It’s a strategic compass that guides decision-making and customer experience enhancement. By harnessing the power of A/B/n, multivariate, and usability testing, businesses gain the insight to refine and personalize the shopping journey.
As technology evolves, so too must our testing strategies, with a focus on mobile responsiveness, seasonality, and technical adaptability. For those ready to invest in this ongoing process, the rewards are clear: a seamless, customer-centric eCommerce platform that not only meets but exceeds the demands of the modern consumer.