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Small change brings 4 times more sales

 8:22 am on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I know from conversion testing I've done in the past that sometimes small changes bring major improvements in sales. but this one just bowled me over.

A site I have worked with for over ten years has been running an overstock sale. In the beginning the page template showed the stock number for each item - both to facilitate phone ordering and to help print catalog customers. But after a few weeks, we decided to reclaim that screen real estate and not publish the stock number on the overstock list.

Knock me over with a feather - sales jumped by a factor of four the minute we made the change! The increase in sales came from two directions. First, the conversions per page visitor almost doubled. But more than that, the average sale more than doubled.

I'm guessing the page was less cluttered so people were more comfortable shopping. Either that, or people really hate seeing those geeky stock numbers that only a computer can love.



 8:54 am on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Umm... Are you sure that was it? I'm having a hard time seeing how removing a number from products could quadruple sales. Are you sure you didn't do something else?


 1:14 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are those standardized stock numbers that customers would find useful, even search for? We know that many of our customers search for a specific stock number to get to our site and to navigate within our site to the item.

What you're saying seems hard to believe.


 2:03 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

could be price checkers were leaving and searching via stock number, but now they don't have the info to search...


 3:43 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

could be price checkers were leaving and searching via stock number, but now they don't have the info to search...

heh, as someone who sells commodity products to a niche market, I normally omit the manufacturer part codes for this exact reason...


 7:51 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

showed the stock number for each item

Just to clarify, we're talking about say, an SKU here, not number of items in stock, correct? Seems pretty clear, but I have a reason for asking. :-)


 3:28 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster. Long time no see :) I was just browsing, and posting my own question. After not being about for a few years and I spotted this. Knowing you, you have done the analysis. It seems quite incredible though. Can you furnish some more details please?

If we are talking about an sku, I find if it is on the page:
a) customers can search for them
b) If they phone up we can easily identify the product they are looking at.

I show them in a "details" tab, so they are not clear on the first page, but are there if people want it. Perhaps that is an alternative?


 4:47 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Tedster, are people searching the SE's for part numbers and you are now showing up in the SERPS? I see that all the time.


 4:51 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think its due to the effect the change had on its SERPs listing. Did visits go up? check keyword sources too.


 9:34 pm on Jan 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well it goes on to show that you should test everything even the seemingly mundane.


 8:53 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Strange ! I once found tripling the price of a product to way over what you could buy a 'similar' product for in the shops sales went upwards..... Funny old world


 1:03 am on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

We don't have part numbers, and no one seems to mind, although I remember one guy with an engineering background on the phone who was furious there were no part numbers.


 3:33 am on Jan 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some more detail - I'm talking about eliminating company specific SKU numbers, not part numbers that might be part of a search. And I'm also not talking about search traffic. This site's business model is not search oriented.

What increased was two things:

1. The conversions percentage popped - from a very healthy 11 percent to an almost obscenely good (for this site) 21 percent of all page visits.

2. The average sale - which also nearly doubled. The page's usability was always optimized to make multi-item purchases easy, but taking away the SKU seemed to make that even easier.

These numbers are staying steady. Seems clear to me that the product names are now just jumping off the page for visitors (it's a long list of sale items). The first thing you see as you scan the list is an English word - the product name - rather than a record-keeping, geeky, alphanumeric character string.

There was some concern when we made this change, because phone sales are almost as high website sales, and the missing SKUs might lead to confusion about what exactly the persona on the phone is trying to order. That turned out not to be a problem at all.

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