Practical Ecommerce

Using Data to Empower an Ecommerce Business

Ecommerce companies now have access to data sources and tools to empower decision-making. This post explores some of the sources and tools, and the kinds of decisions you can derive from them.

Web Design

Base your web design decisions on users’ browsing and behavioral data. What is the best design or layout for your website that will maximize conversions? Are there any navigation areas on your website that you need to modify? Do your customers get stuck on a particular page and then leave?

Aside from the usual analytics tools that track traffic, bounce rates, and conversions, you can also use more advanced solutions such as heat maps to supplement your data. One tool that lets you do this is Crazy Egg, which provides visual representations of user behavior and enables you to map website scrolling, identify hot spots, generate A/B tests, and more.

Crazy Egg provides heat maps to help understand how visitors interact with your website.

Crazy Egg provides heat maps to help understand how visitors interact with your website.

Alternatively, you can gain behavioral data and insights with solutions such as FiveSecondTest.com or UserTesting.com. These tools put your website in front of actual users and record their behavior. They also allow you to ask question to get qualitative information on how people perceive your designs.

Inventory Decisions

Inventory decisions should always be data-driven. It’s important to constantly track how products are moving in your store so you’ll know exactly what items to order as well as when and how often to do it.

Historical data is something to consider as well. What did your customers buy in the previous year? Which are the items that stayed in your warehouse for the longest?

Additionally, data relating to climate and weather is also useful. Some retailers are now looking into weather analytics so they can predict shopper behavior as well as product demand — and stock up when necessary.

Campaign and Promotion Scheduling

Data analytics can take the guesswork out of timing your marketing campaigns. Track and analyze the time of day and day of the week customers open your emails and complete sales transactions. This will enable you to determine the best time to connect with them. One company that implemented this successfully is Swaychic, a clothing and accessories retailer. My firm helped Swaychic improve the results of its email campaigns by tracking the days and times with the highest open and conversion rates.

Based on that data, we segmented its customers into different time slots (5 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m.) and further customized the messages based on each shopper’s purchase history and behavior. This resulted in a 40 percent increase in email open rates, a 100 percent increase in average click through rate, and a 300 percent increase in revenue for each campaign.

Merchandise Pricing

Harvesting data on your customers’ previous purchases, location, and demographics, along with information on your competitors’ pricing, can help you determine the most effective price points for your merchandise.

While it’s ideal that you combine multiple sources and metrics to come up with the best prices, you can still make do by analyzing just one or two data points. For example, by tracking your shoppers’ previous purchases, you can estimate which customers would be willing to pay premium prices for particular products, and which shoppers would need a lower price (or higher discount) to convert.

Other retailers are using shoppers’ locations (by tracking their IP addresses) to determine the best price. Staples.com for instance, displays different prices depending on where users are located. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Staples appeared to consider the person’s distance from a rival brick-and-mortar store, either OfficeMax Inc. or Office Depot Inc. If rival stores were within 20 miles or so, Staples.com usually showed a discounted price.”

Another option is to check your competitors’ prices. For example, Wiser (formerly WisePricer) enables this by monitoring, analyzing, and re-pricing retail products in real time.

Content Creation

If you conduct content marketing, tracking metrics such as traffic, time on site, social shares, and comments will give you insights into the types of content that resonate most with your audience.

Aside from looking at your own data, you can also get valuable information by tracking social shares on other relevant websites. I use Buzzsumo, for example, to search for popular posts in the ecommerce industry. I type in a relevant keyword (usually “ecommerce” or “big data”) and the tool generates results that I can sort by content type, number of shares, and more.

This enables me to easily find the top posts in our space and it helps me generate ideas, find content gaps, and know what our target audience wants to consume. Then, I incorporate these findings in our content marketing strategy.

Buzzsumo provides data on content that is popular on social media sites.

Buzzsumo provides data on content that is popular on social media sites.

Track, also, how your ecommerce customers respond to product descriptions, FAQs, and reviews so you can optimize them. Perhaps you’ll discover that shorter product descriptions work best for your shoppers, or that the wording of your FAQ page needs to be modified. The best way to know for sure is to run tests on different web copy and content types.

Devices and Platforms

Gather data on the devices and platforms that your shoppers are using, so you can optimize your website and campaigns accordingly.

What percentages of transactions are completed on desktop computers, and what web browsers are shoppers using? Which of your customers are using their mobile devices to browse your products? What percentage of your customers are Android and iOS users? You can answer these questions by tracking usage across devices and platforms in your web analytics service. This will provide insights into how shoppers are consuming content and will help you create a better user experience for each device or platform.

Tags:  

Jerry Jao
Jerry Jao
Bio  |  RSS Feed


Get the Practical Ecommerce RSS feed

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Kevin Thang June 12, 2014 Reply

    Nice tips on the tools available

    Thanks Jerry

    • Jerry Jao July 29, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Kevin.

Email Newsletter Signup

Sign up to receive EcommerceNotes,
our acclaimed email newsletter.

And receive a free copy of our ebook
50 Great Ecommerce Ideas