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Last week, we began taking a look at the changes of the top 30 e-commerce stores (21 to 30) over the past decade and more. This week, we continue with stores 11-20 and highlighting the practices they have implemented over time. Through evolution and iterative design, these stores continuously improve their sites and maintain great shopping experiences.

Here are how stores 11-20 have changed:

20. Walmart
19. Neiman Marcus
18. BlueNile
17. Wayfair
16. Hayneedle
15. Nordstrom
14. Eddie Bauer
13. Home Depot
12. 1-800 Contacts
11. Cafe Press


#20 Walmart

With 2.2 million employees and $485 billion in revenue, Walmart continues to optimize their online experience to increase conversions and drive customers to retail stores.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Advocate of testing value propositions; first value prop was “Online Shopping Made Easy”.
  • By 2000, they were already listing all categories from Electronics to Lawn Care on their homepage to create an easy shopping experience.
  • Shifted from categories to a product-centric homepage in 2001.
  • Continued to optimize for customer experience by adding a “Track Your Order” link with a truck icon in 2002.
  • Constantly running iterative tests on shopping cart placement and the help button.

#19 Neiman Marcus

One of the most amazing e-commerce stores with a fantastic multi-channel experience. Neiman Marcus is on Forbes’ list of top 100 private companies with over $4 billion in revenue.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Always experimented with segmentation from him/her to gifts. Neiman Marcus evolved to segment buyers into brand specific shoppers and goods hand picked by the Neiman team.
  • Iteratively tests the header by adding new categories, such as designer index, promo codes and assistance.
  • Experimented with different CTA colors shifting from red to orange.
  • Recently added FREE returns since many shoppers buying clothes online have a fear of purchasing the wrong size.
  • Increased the size of the search box giving it more prominent placement on the homepage.

#18 BlueNile

Blue Nile was founded in 1999 and is the largest online retailer of diamonds today. With nearly 200 employees and over $333 million in revenue, their e-commerce site is constantly tested and filled with amazing resources for jewelry customers.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Emphasis on jewelry education from cut, shape, color and clarity. Blue Nile doesn’t want customers leaving their site to do research.
  • Experimented with featuring products as holiday gift ideas that are guaranteed to please each person on your list.
  • Eased buyer anxiety with 30 day no risk return policy & free shipping. Also, tested urgency to push customers to order before 3pm EST for same-day shipping.
  • Tested social proof boasting features from “The New York Times” on the right rail.
  • Created witty headlines with clever CTAs to reduce bounce rates, such as “No Pressure, No Commission” and “You’re too smart to shop in a jewelry store”.

#17 WayFair

Generating nearly $1 billion in 2013, Wayfair is a U.S.-based e-commerce company that sells furniture. Formerly known as CSN Stores, the company was founded in 2002, and now sells home furnishings, luggage, toys, and pet items.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Focused on creating a very visual online store from the very beginning as home decor shoppers were used to seeing goods in person.
  • Segmented shoppers by focusing on what room they were interested in to create a flawless shopping experience.
  • Recent pages use sub-navigation to link to content that inspires top-of-funnel users, such as trending items, ideas & advice, idea boards, and room integrations

#16 Hayneedle

Hayneedle started in 2002 with one store, Hammocks.com. Over the next few years, the company opened dozens more online stores, each focused on one particular type of product. They developed a portfolio of sites focused on home and patio furnishings.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • First began using a blue CTA button in early iterations but tested this and eventually implemented a contrasting orange CTA button in recent versions.
  • In newer iterations, they switched to featuring different product categories in a carousel but always retain mention of a sale with a banner in the top right.
  • Because furnishing and decor is a major aspect of the business, a style gallery was added to the main navigation to show products in a real setting.

#15 Nordstrom

With over 60,000 employees and $13 billion in annual revenue, Nordstrom created the ultimate customer service experience with their e-commerce store. It started as a shoe retailer but expanded its inventory to include clothing, accessories, handbags, jewelry, cosmetics, and fragrances.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Always include account sign-in and store location info at the top like many other stores, but it also features “recommendations” and a “wish list” which drives conversions as users shop throughout the site.
  • In multiple iterations, they have emphasized both free shipping and free returns to eliminate any risk that buyers feel.
  • Often used a specific discount percentage numbers as the largest type presented aesthetically. “33% off or more” will show the “33%” as the largest element on the entire homepage.

#14 Eddie Bauer

The company was first established in 1920 in Seattle by Pacific Northwest outdoorsman Eddie Bauer (1899 – 1986). In 1940, Bauer patented the first quilted down jacket, and the company is known as the original outdoor outfitter.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Utilizes a search function in early versions of the site and even provides detailed search for users to locate items easily.
  • As a fashion brand, it segments users by gender right upon entrance.
  • For seasonal campaigns featured in hero images, the season is always depicted using by climate/landscape to urge users to feel the need for product.

#13 Home Depot

Home Depot Direct launched its online home furnishings store in 2005. By constantly A/B testing, they are able to create a superior multi-channel shopping experience for their customers. Home Depot is worth over $12 billion today.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Since 2000s, they have applied localization to find nearest store based on user’s current location.
  • Always emphasizes account sign-in or registration and provides a dropdown navigation for members.
  • Most recent iteration lands on the main general homepage, but uses segmentation by showing an option at the top left to switch to the personalized experience for pro contractors.

#12 1-800 Contacts

Founded in 1995 by Jonathan C. Coon, 1-800-Contacts is the largest contact lenses store online. Coon sold 1-800 CONTACTS in June 2012 for $900 million. This company has an interesting history because Coon helped pass a federal law to give Americans a right to their contact lens prescriptions.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • In the early 2000s, images depicting a real person was used in various ways to convey quality customer service (24/7 support and live chat).
  • Almost always emphasizes free shipping and price guarantee/matching at the top to remove friction early in the experience. Ribbon presentation is used for price guarantee to establish trust.
  • Because they strictly sell products of other brands, they use recognizable logos or photos of packaging in hero images and navigation.

#11 Cafe Press

CafePress.com sells T-shirts, bags, mugs, wall clocks, calendars, and a myriad of other products. Customers can upload their own graphics, design, logo or text, which will be added to the product by CafePress.

Some key takeaways from the last decade:

  • Always tests various ways to segment sellers and buyers early in funnel using top navigation links or differing hero images for each audience.
  • Began using a carousel in recent years for featured categories to promote campaigns.
  • Under the carousel, urgent deals or featured best-selling items would be displayed to drive immediate action.

Conclusion

For stores 11-20, rapid iterations were implemented through time. Each retailer tried different tactics, but many found common learnings that became e-commerce best practices. Overall, companies found that:

  • Using urgency in sales copy for timely deals and offers drives sales.
  • Free shipping and free return policies reduce friction and buyers’ fears.
  • For stores with multiple types of audiences, segmentation on the homepage became popular and helpful.

Companies not only stayed relevant but grew during their transition into e-commerce. As established as these stores are, they continue to test and evolve in order to maintain success.  E-commerce constantly changes, so your company must also iterate. Without testing on your own store, you’ll lose customers fast, while competitors push to provide better shopping experiences.

Stay tuned next week for the final segment of stores (top 1-10) and final takeaways covering all 30 companies!

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