Testing Helps Topshop Find the Right Fit

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Testing Helps Topshop Find the Right Fit
Testing Helps Topshop Find the Right Fit

Multivariate testing is a main staple in Topshop's e-commerce ensemble. The international fashion retailer implemented personalization and testing platform Qubit in 2012 to expand its testing capabilities, and today, Topshop runs about four to five tests on its Web and mobile sites at any given time. But, similar to fashion, consumers' behaviors and desires are constantly evolving. So the brand has to continue to test and optimize across those channels to ensure that the experiences it creates for its customers are a perfect fit.

Topshop discussed its testing transformation at a recent Qubit roundtable. Here's an overview of how Topshop has taken its testing capabilities from drab to fab.

Decking out the desktop

When it comes to website testing, Topshop gathers explicit and implicit data. The retailer uses Qubit's Visitor Opinion tool, a pop up that appears when consumers are about to leave the site, to gauge reactions to site changes through direct feedback. Tracking behavior helped the brand notice that the site's most popular search inquiries were actually blank after it redesigned its homepage last September. Topshop hypothesized that consumers thought that they had to click the search button to type in their inquiry, resulting in the blank entries, Kate Walmsley, Topshop's digital director, explained at the roundtable. Knowing that consumers who use Topshop's search capabilities often convert at a 10-time higher rate than those who don't, Topshop decided  to get to the bottom of the empty searches. So the brand created four versions of the search box by altering its copy and adding a border. Topshop then split the search box tests across its user base. The retailer discovered that the search box featuring the words “I'm looking for...” in an enclosed, bordered box drove the highest conversions—a 5.8% increase compared to the original design.

Topshop also tested changes on its product pages in January 2014. As a result of testing, the retailer made numerous changes; for example, instead of featuring its clothing sizes in a drop-down selection tool, the brand features its sizes in individual boxes that turn gray when clicked on. In addition, Topshop altered its “size guide,” “store checker,” and “add to bag” buttons; moved its “details,” “delivery,” and “reviews” tabs to a lower location; and streamlined consumers' shopping bag confirmation notifications. This combination of changes resulted in a 9 to 11% increase in conversion.

However, not all tests prove fruitful. For instance, Topshop tested whether models with or without heads performed better on its product pages. And while the retailer didn't see a giant lift in conversion as a result of the tests, it didn't take a hit either. “Not all of them work,” Walmsley admitted. “You wouldn't expect them all to work.”

But experimenting with both big and small changes has helped Topshop instill a test-and-learn culture. “Instead of having a big debate around those things, we just try it,” she said.

Setting trends on mobile

Indeed, optimizing the customer experience through testing doesn't end at desktop for the fashion brand. Although the majority of Topshop's sales still occur on desktop, the brand is seeing a shift in traffic from desktop to mobile, Walmsley said. In fact, about 35% of Topshop's traffic comes from mobile—excluding tablets. She expects this figure to increase to 50% in the near future, which means testing on desktop only is so last season.    

“We're thinking about mobile first because that's where our customer is,” Walmsley said.

As a result of this shift, Topshop redesigned its mobile site this past October, including reconstructing its navigational capabilities. With the tap of a button, consumers can now view a list of product categories or navigate to different parts of the mobile site. To ensure that consumers were aware of these navigational updates, Topshop showed a navigational pointer with the words “tap here to search or shop by category” to first-time mobile users for five seconds upon entry. The small gesture resulted in big results for the brand, including a 4% increase in basket adds on mobile and a 1.2% increase in visitors viewing product pages.

Giving a global brand a local feel

Yet, not all tests should focus on the latest and greatest technology trend. It's also important to focus on the human aspects, such as consumers' preferences.

In Topshop's case, being a multinational retailer forces the retailer to address each of its regional audience differently. So while the overall ecommerce site is essentially the same across countries, the fashion brand tailors its content—such as its site language and currency—to better target its local markets.

One main cultural variance is sensitivity towards free shipping. After analyzing its sales conversions, Topshop identified that some international consumers have stronger attitudes towards free shipping spending thresholds than others. Walmsley partially attributed this sensitivity to Topshop having to compete against other pure play retailers—such as Amazon or Shopbop—that often offer free shipping.

As a result, Topshop began experimenting with different thresholds in several markets to determine how the brand could drive a higher net sale without having a negative impact on shipping costs and customer sentiment. U.S. consumers proved to be some of the most sensitive in terms of shipping thresholds, so Topshop offers free standard shipping to shoppers in all 50 states. However, consumers in Australia must spend 50 pounds to qualify for free shipping, and shoppers in the U.K.—where Topshop was founded—must spend at least 75 pounds. In addition to driving sales, addressing shipping threshold sensitivities has helped Topshop create a better customer experience, Walmsley noted.

Trends for tomorrow

Although Topshop has gleaned numerous successes from its testing model, it's journey is far from over. The brand recently entered into a multiyear project with Oracle to get a more accurate, real-time view of its inventory, Walmsley said. The brand is also looking for new ways to reward its loyal consumers. Fifty percent of Topshop's consumers return to the brand every day, Walmsley noted, so it's experimenting with new ways to thank and interact with loyal consumers more directly, such as through shipping bonuses, she adds.

Long story short, as Walmsley put it, “There is more for us to do.”

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