The most overlooked method of improving conversion rates • eCommerce Forum | Forum Events Ltd
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  • The most overlooked method of improving conversion rates

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    In the era of accelerating digital opportunity and hypercompetition, ecommerce teams need websites and apps that deliver value to customers from the moment they’re released, with constant updates to functionality that open up more sales opportunities, drive loyalty and increase conversions.

    Global ecommerce sales are predicted to reach $7.385 trillion by 2025. How will you grow your conversions to claim a share of that prize?

    The digital world never stands still

    Feature rich websites, constantly updated with new and exciting functionality deliver PR talking points, new opportunities for marketing engagement, and ultimately, more and more frictionless sales, but are increasingly delivered against tight deadlines by smaller, more agile teams. Those who aren’t constantly innovating are losing out, they are missing the opportunity to experiment, to ‘fail fast’ – to change dynamically with commercial demand.

    With so many moving parts it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where something might be going wrong.  Why that sudden downturn in visitors? Why is digital revenue falling? Why is that new functionality failing to deliver uplift in business performance? You know there’s definitely a problem somewhere. Perhaps it’s one or more bugs on your site, perhaps the user journey hasn’t been designed well enough to optimize conversions, perhaps pricing is unclear, perhaps you simply don’t have enough visitors, perhaps…

    Ambitious ecommerce managers don’t want to be on the back foot constantly working out where the problems are. And there may be no single, obvious reason for what’s going on. To get more people through the checkout, you might try things like A/B testing, personalization, money-back guarantees… But there are no guarantees these strategies will work. But there is a less exciting, but arguably more effective way to increase conversions.

    Testing… the least exciting way to improve conversions

    You might think we’re stating the obvious, but bear with us. Testing is the last step before a release, and no one wants to delay a launch either because testing time is taking too long, or because the testing uncovers issues that will need fixing.

    But there are plenty of stories of website releases gone wrong, the stuff of nightmares for brands, who, needing time to develop complex new offerings but faced with fierce commercial pressures to release, struggle to co-ordinate their testing efforts effectively and end up taking risks with their reputation.

    With integrations, personalisation, offers and so many other different areas to manage, the danger is that software bugs creep in, slowing systems and frustrating customers who can’t do what they need to. If innovation requires us to ‘fail fast’ on a commercial level, it also requires us to be constantly vigilant around quality, ensuring that new functionality is tested and optimised properly so that it is given maximum opportunity to succeed.

    Digital teams involved in huge ecommerce projects often have no choice but to release partially or inadequately tested sites because they simply don’t have the resource to conduct anything more than basic tests before release. But these are exactly the moments when you need the most exhaustive functional testing to ensure everything is working exactly as it should be. These are the make or break moments for revenue and reputation, for allowing an environment where conversions can be optimised, to ensure quality keeps pace with the velocity of continual delivery and deployment. In short, testing prevents updates and changes wreaking havoc on your revenue stats.

    Making sure your site works for any customer, on any device

    Devices, operating systems and browsers are continually evolving. According to BrowserStack, “More than 4 billion people access the web through a combination of more than 9,000 distinct devices, 21 different operating systems and 8 major browser engines that power hundreds of different browsers.” That’s at least 63,000 possible browser/platform/device combinations that could be accessing your website at any given time!

    This state of fragmentation means there are a myriad of reasons why a website might see a sudden drop in revenue, and multiple ways a site or an app might be failing to convert visitors to customers. Crucially, if you’re not testing your website on a wide range of real devices and operating systems, you might be missing, not very exciting but hugely impactful, conversion issues on a particular device, browser and OS combination. What if testing revealed that customers were unable to purchase a product using a particular Android device, but that device represented 15% of all your visitors? What revenue would have been gained if testing had uncovered that issue?

    Delivering testing with the right coverage, and at the speed and scale necessary to make the difference when it most matters, is a complex task. Without testing the right combinations that reflect the likely variations in your market, and without being able to check the way visitors browse, you could be losing customers and revenue in surprising quantities.

    Where there are so many moving parts responsible for the optimal performance of a website or app you need real-world testing data and teams working 365/24/7 to ensure you are keeping on top of it all.

    Using a professional testing company that can mobilise teams and run functional tests at size and scale before and immediately after release is often the best option for an ecommerce brand that may have limited testing resource.  Successful ecommerce stories are about the continual refinement of experiences, features and conversion, based on deep customer insight. Choosing the right testing partner will mean you’ll never be left wondering ‘what just happened’ and you’ll always have a clear vision of what you need to do next to maximise sales and revenue.

    Ultimately it will help you deliver greater operational efficiencies, more conversions, more revenue and all with less stress.

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