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How Smaller Businesses Can Compete With the Giants of E-Commerce

It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways for small e-commerce businesses to protect themselves against the likes of Amazon, Argos and John Lewis, is to play them at their own game. You may not have the same huge marketing budgets, but by strengthening your brand and using Conversion Rate Optimisation techniques, you too can continually improve your website performanceboost your online sales.

Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) is the process that Amazon leading online brands uses to decide exactly what its thousands of split tests will beconstantly make incremental improvements that grow revenue, without spending more to acquire new visitors. Over the last decade Amazon have continually tested, refined and improved every aspect of their website to achieve thousands of small marginal gains that add up to create a market leading performance. There are some important lessons a sSmall business can take away some important lessons from this approach., and in In fact, as a smaller organisation you mayhave the advantage of being closer to your customer, and may even be able to be more agile and move even fasterthe ability to be faster and more agile.

No matter how small your business, you too can reap the benefits of CRO, by following these steps:

Set up research tools:

Before you can start tuning your online sales machine, you need to know whichareas to focus on. While there may be things that you’d like to fix, the best starting point is to get some objective evidence about where the best gains can be made. There are now lots of inexpensive research tools and software that you can implement on your website to collect information about your customers and their journey through your site. These include onsite survey tools like Qualaroo, Queryz and Informizely, heat maps like Crazy Egg, session recording mechanisms like SessionCam and all-in-one tools like Hotjar.

Analyse the data:

Look at your analytics data to see where your customers are dropping out, then use the research tools to find out what the issues are. Think about emailingEmail your customers with a survey via Survey Monkey, Typeform or Google Forms. This is an easy way to get a good amount of user data, but you need to put a lot of thought into the questions. You can also get insights from sPanel-based user testing services like can help you to identify common conversion blockers, and can also help you to rank issues. Don’t forget research sources you may already have, such as livechat scripts, old surveys and emails to customer services. The Since one of the goals is to identify what is putting potential buyers off, so complaints are especially valuable feedback.

Identify opportunities:

After looking at the data and customer insight, start to list out the opportunities you have identified to improve the site and put them in order of priority. Start with the ones that look as though they will be the most lucrative, and easiest for your organisation to implement. Resist the temptation to simply copy the market leaders like Amazon. What works for them might not work for you so make sure you are guided by your own research.

Solve the problems:

Start Now you’re ready to make the changes to your web pagesite that could solve the problems your customers have told you about, directly or indirectly. It’s best to plot this out visually. It can be much cheaper and easier to do this as aDo a wireframe first, which is a rough sketch of your proposed solution on the page, putting together concepts until you arrive at something you’re happy with. A lo-fi pencil sketch is fine, but there are tools for this such as Balsamiq.

Test, test, test:

Once you created an alternative version that you think will work better for your customers, it is crucial to test that it really is an improvement. Using split test tools like VWO, or ABTastyOptimizely, will allow you to show the new variation to half your visitors without them knowing. By tracking performance of both versions you can then compare metrics like Revenue per Visitor on each to see which one performs best.

It becomes a cycle: You can then put your winning test live, and move onto the next improvement idea. Once you embed a process like this into your organization, you’re onto a winning streak that will keep improving your sales, strengthening your brand and will give your David-sized website a sporting chance against an e-commerce Goliath.

E-commerce Website Optimization, ISBN: 9780749475383, Price: £19.99, is available to purchase now. Save 20% with discount code BMKEWO20.