E-commerce Test Idea: Default Sort Order on Category Pages

When I search for “tents” on REI.com, I’m presented with pages upon pages of results for items matching my query. The order in which these items are sorted when I first see the results is important—the quicker I see an item that matches what I’m looking for, the better. Would a different default sort order compel me to engage with content and click-through to product pages at a higher rate? Should items be sorted differently based on a unique visitor segment that I can be categorized into?


An example of sort options on a search results page. Which one of these sorts leads to highest engagement? A/B test it.

Learning which default sort order produces the highest click-through and conversion rates down the funnel is something you can do easily and effectively through A/B testing.

A surprising number of e-commerce sites present products in a “Default” sorting order. “Default” is ambiguous to users and does not offer any clues about the types of products that they should expect to see. Different sort orders for different types of visitors is an excellent way to enhance personalization in your online shopping experience.

Try different sorts for different visitor types. See if sorting by Popularity for new visitors and Newest Arrivals for returning visitors increases conversions. Try sorting by Ascending Price for visitors who were referred from an ad where you mentioned “low prices”.

Such a test should be implemented with goals aligned to not only click-through to product pages and subsequent Add to Cart conversions, but also clicks to other filtering options. This goal may not be directly linked to the primary conversion goal, but is important to gauge how sorting and filtering functionality is complementary and keeps users engaged within a particular product category.

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