4 Critical eCommerce Site Tests Every Retailer Should Complete

The 4 tests that can keep your ahead of your online competition.

In a recent study, 57% of Australian respondents said they discard their carts sometimes, or all the time, compared to 41% of European respondents and 47% of North American respondents. This, coupled with the benchmarks for eCommerce experience being set so high by the large global online players, means that Australian and New Zealand retailers need to regularly evaluate and improve their online store presence to keep up with ever-demanding user expectations and Google search ranking criteria. It is vital that your online stores are tested regularly to:

  • Ensure all features are all working properly
  • Make sure you are search-friendly
  • Optimise conversion rates, revenue and customer lifetime value by making the site as easy as possible and enjoyable to purchase from (and return time and time again)
  • Detect security issues and bugs

Conducting regular testing can be a time-consuming process, however, optimisation directly increases customer engagement and revenue. The following are the key areas of testing and optimisation that should form part of your eCommerce and omni-channel growth plan:

1. Performance

Your website’s load speed, mobile-friendliness and security will directly affect your search rankings and traffic, the time customers spend on your site, abandon rates and sales revenue.

Mobile-friendly61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. (3)

Mobile-friendly websites are more important than they’ve ever been. Google ranks this as the third most important factor when determining a website’s ranking (3).

You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test see how well your site performs on mobile devices.

If your site is not mobile-friendly, this should be a key priority in your eCommerce action plan. Either by fixing your existing site or looking at a new eCommerce software solution that is mobile-friendly as standard.

Load Speed

Website load speed directly affects your SEO. Google uses site speed as a ranking determinant, and it continues to serve as one of the many factors that determine where your website shows up in search (2). A website that’s slow to load can also drive visitors back into search results, and directly to a competitor. You can use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to test how your site performs on both mobile and desktop devices.

Security

There are a wide range of security and privacy factors that need to be regularly tested on your site. One of the most critical is ensuring your entire site is HTTPS not HTTP. This is especially important now that Google will alert Chrome browser users if your pages are not secure, risking a spike in bounce rates.

2. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

A website should be designed in line with SEO best practices including URLs, headers, high-quality content, site architecture, plugins, meta descriptions, keywords and topics, backlinks, sitemaps, and image alt attributes. With multiple pages, it is easy to miss a header or leave off the alt-text for an image. Although these may seem like small issues, in a highly-competitive, search orientated world, every element counts. There a wide range of SEO tools you can use to analyse your current performance and gaps including Alexa, Moz and SimilarWeb.

3. Usability

64% of shoppers mentioned “simple site navigation” as a factor influencing their decision to buy (5).

Usability testing looks to identify disconnects (or areas of good performance that can be replicated) in the users experience with your site and with your brand. The aim is to understand how easy (or hard) it is for them complete what they had intended when visiting your site as well as how the overall shopping experience plays out for them. This can include navigation as well as the availability of information and features they need to make a purchase decision. Usability testing should extend to how in-store interactions and fulfilment of goods play a role in the customer experience. A disconnected omni-channel experience is becoming one of the biggest challenges for Australian and New Zealand retailers so usability testing now requires a holistic approach.

Testing can focus on the end-to-end experience or hone in on specific parts of the customer journey.

There are a number of different types of usability testing methods including:

  • Hallway Testing — using random people to test the website rather than people who are trained and experienced in testing websites.(4)
  • Remote Usability Testing — This is an insightful method of testing because it is carried out in the normal environment of the user instead of a controlled ‘lab’.  
  • Expert Review—an expert in the field is asked to evaluate the usability of the website. These tests are typically not as detailed as other types of usability tests, but their advantage is that they can be completed quickly and provide a range of best-practice conversion optimisation (see point 4) hypotheses to test out.
  • Questionnaires and Interviews — interviews enable the observer to ask direct questions to the users and vice versa.
  • Do-it-Yourself Walkthrough—the observer sets up a usability test situation by creating realistic scenarios. They then walk through the work themselves just like a user would. This can be done in a group or individually.

Navigation testing ensures all links, both external and internal, are working. Make sure every single possible journey throughout your website leads to where it is meant to. If you have an on-site search bar, ensure it delivers accurate results. With eCommerce, it’s important to know that the purchase process is easy for the user, including check-out, payments, receipt generation, and so on.

4. Conversion Optimisation

Running proactive experiments to try out new ideas and hypotheses that could increase overall conversion rates, transaction value, repeat purchases, named sales and other key KPIs is critical to eCommerce growth. Usability testing can help to unveil ideas to test but they can also come from brainstorming sessions and suggestions from internal and external stakeholders. There are an endless array of elements that can be tested including:

  • Navigation
  • Site features
  • New products
  • New services and policies
  • Personalisation
  • Content (including text, images, video and all other formats)  
  • Support (phone, live chat etc)
  • Promotions, offers and incentives
  • Loyalty and reward programs
  • In-Store interaction

(For further details check out our blog on the key areas of conversion rate optimisation).

The two most common ways to test conversion is through A/B testing and multivariate testing:

  • A/B testing allows you to create a new version of a strategic webpage and compare its conversion results with the results of the original version. There can only be one element that differs the two pages, the element that supposedly triggers customer action (a call to action button, an image, a headline). (6)
  • Multivariate testing is a form of web testing with which you compare different versions of the same page with each other. Multivariate testing allows you to change multiple elements of a page and see how different combinations of these elements influence the conversion rate.

As with any form of testing, website optimisation is an ongoing process and the most successful Informed Retailers have the above tests threaded into their business and process business rhythms.

Many of them appear simple but are often not executed well, if at all. Remember that your eCommerce store needs to be user-friendly, fast and as frictionless as possible — not only for your customers but also to ensure it’s optimised for search.

Sources:

  1. Forbes, E-commerce Set For Global Domination — But At Different Speeds, 2018
  2. Mannix, The Growing Importance of Your Website’s Load Speed
  3. August Ash, The Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2019
  4. Usability Geek, An Introduction to Website Usability Testing, 2012
  5. Relevant Insights, 10 Things To Consider When Testing Website Navigation, 2016
  6. Omniconvert, Website testing and CRO

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