Sierra Trading Post Tests Impulse Buys Online

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Sierra Trading Post had a conversion challenge: The retailer and cataloger of overstocked and excess merchandise knew that offering impulse-shopping suggestions on the online shopping cart page would boost revenue. But it did not know which items would appeal to shoppers most.

So the Cheyenne, WY, company turned to hosted testing services firm Offermatica to run a series of multivariate tests at that compared shoppers' real-time reactions to impulse-buy products at different price points like under $10 and under $50.

"They do a lot of online marketing, and they have to get the highest revenue for every person they acquire," said Matthew Roche, CEO of Offermatica, San Francisco.

Offermatica's marketing optimization platform was used to offer automatic product suggestion and A/B testing. To gain more revenue per visit with impulse buys on the shopping cart page, Offermatica created four sets of recommended products at different price points and randomly displayed these options on

Usage showed that all promotions offering cross-sell items lifted revenue per visit versus the default of offering no cross-sell products. The best-performing offer was items less than $10, which boosted revenue per visit by 43 percent compared with the lowest offer. The winning formula also led to a 4.8 percent jump in average order value compared with the default.

What was learned from this exercise spread over a year? Don't cross-sell too many items. Place the right products in the right places. Offer what sells rather than what does not. Offer incentives to buy more than one item. Offer free shipping, a carrot dangled by all and sundry over the holidays. And then there's the price.

"We learned most specifically that price point matters in impulse buys," Roche said.

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