Digital Doughnut
Digital Doughnut 17 August 2018

What’s holding retail ecommerce teams back?

With limited resources and an ever-increasing amount of available data to take into consideration, ecommerce teams nowadays are challenged to maximise on-site conversions and ensure their site’s user experience (UX) is tip top, using nothing but their wits, experience and a few software tools.

Here we will reveal two tangible solutions to the challenges faced by ecommerce teams and cover how those same teams can navigate some of the most pressing issues holding them back.

Challenge 1:

Adopting the right approach to A/B testing

“Stop A/B testing you’re wasting your time”

Matt Henton, Head of ecommerce, Moss Bros


At a recent Future:Retail rebel conference, washing machine enthusiast Matt Henton, provoked a partisan ecommerce crowd with this quote during his presentation. It was of course largely tongue in cheek, but there was a point to be made. Matt inferred that most teams waste more time than may be needed testing absolutely everything and, instead, brands should better prioritise the tests they’re running to only implement the tests where they are very confident of a win.

Matt implored teams to just fix ‘“the broken stuff” on their sites. A quick win is to check your 404 logs and see if there’s reoccurring issues. If there’s a particular 404 url that’s getting visited multiple times then just fix that issue before it becomes a problem and affects your revenues/long term user experience. Matt extolled the need to really understand what users are actually doing (where they’re getting frustrated and clicking multiple times on a particular ‘chunk’ of content for example).

What’s holding many ecommerce back is the fact they struggle to quickly answer the below questions:

How much money did my homepage hero banner generate this week and is that more or less than last week?

Does my burger menu or my search bar drive higher conversion on my mobile site?

Why is the basket to checkout dropout so big?

Why are my returning visitors struggling to fill a particular form?

Businesses facing these questions often rely on traditional analytics for answers. But traditional analytics can only tell ecommerce teams what customers are doing on their site, not why and how they're doing it. Some of those same ecommerce teams have used session replay tools to attempt to understand behaviour, but the same frustrations arise. Brands should look for tools that display aggregated user journeys visually, enabling them to understand why customers are leaving their site as well as measure the revenue and behavioural contribution of any ‘block’ of content. There’s a huge need to understand golden or broken customer journeys, feed actionable insights to test hypothesis and recognise why tests are winning or inconclusive.

Challenge 2:

Mud wrestling with HiPPOs


Does this HiPPO remind you of a certain someone?

The HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) effect could have a detrimental impact on testing ideas and raises the common challenge in ecommerce teams whether to test based on the data or the HiPPO.

How many of you typically test a hypothesis for one or both of the below reasons?

“Because I had an idea and I wanted to see if it worked...”

“Because my manager told me to...”

More common than not, testing roadmaps are centred around the above rather than those who are using data to drive, back and explain their testing. Digital teams need to come to a single source of the truth. Their initial approach to testing could be one of many; their trade team, their marketing team, their CEO, or worse, the “that’s just how we’ve always done it” mantra.

Testing is tough, and people are used to doing things a certain way, so it’s hard to convince teams to change their approach. But as a digital team, the reality is that it is your job to state facts, not opinions or biased hypotheses. Every brand will have preconceptions about their customers and what they want. Ecommerce teams across all industries need to develop a culture of replacing preconceptions with data.

Teams should trust the data more, as user behaviour is super nuanced so the numbers alone won’t uncover usability issues. If you’re blindly following good performance tests, this can lead to a cycle of chasing quick fix features and lead to a disjointed product. The questions arise:

How do you measure test success?

 Is conversion rate always the appropriate metric?

Success is more than just conversion rate optimisation (CRO), as ecommerce teams want users to return and purchase on their site time and time again. The right approach is to balance CRO with solving users problems to create long term value. In an ideal world, you’d want to run quantitative and qualitative testing at the same time, but how many brands have the time and resources to do this?

Instead, set metrics goals before launching a test and then report on these alongside the traditional ‘win/loss’ view. And be sure not to get addicted to small wins. Although they’re important and the cumulative effect can be significant, you don’t want them to be a barrier to innovative product work that can delight your customers.

In every organisation a powerful and dangerous animal lurks. The HiPPO.


Louise Vallender (Head of Ecommerce) and Steve Thomson (Head of User Experience) at Dune Group believe that all too often classic mistakes retail ecommerce teams can be avoided. They have partnered with ContentSquare to highlight how brands across every industry can resolve the following challenges quickly:

  • Combating common barriers when creating your optimisation strategies
  • How to accelerate your speed to insight and transform your testing culture
  • How to influence your organisational culture to become data-driven

To learn more, sign up for the webcast on August 22nd at 4pm BST

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