E-commerce Testing Methods – Creating a Shopify Sales Monster

What is the best way to execute e-commerce testing methods?

When it comes to your Shopify store, there’s nothing that works 100% of the time to convert prospects into customers. On the flip side, there’s nothing that fails 100% of the time either.

If somebody wants something bad enough, they’ll jump through hoops to get it.

Have you ever been starving for a pizza? Then you jump through endless hoops online to customize it? Only to have your payment and delivery info that you just tediously typed completely wiped out just to enter it all over again? Just me? Oh.

That’s why pizza places started allowing you to ‘save’ your favorite pizza customizations. Your delivery address. Your payment info. All to get you your product fast and for them to get paid even faster.

That being said, we know there are a few select things that ‘grease the chute’ for a buyer to pull out their wallet and pay for your products.

We know that we shouldn’t put yellow text on a pink background. That one is a bit obvious (to most).

However, there are a few things that we know are a bit less obvious that tend to convert more often than not.

Everything depends on your implementation. Great ideas executed poorly won’t give you the results you wanted.

Imagine you are a brilliant scientist tinkering with your creation of a sales machine. Making an adjustment here and there until your creation comes alive with the sound of happy customers (instead of deathly screams).

So let’s dive in.

E-commerce Testing Idea #1 – Hero Image vs Slider Images

In simpler terms, should I stick with one image on my home page or several images that ‘slide’ or ‘rotate’ on the home page?

I suspect ‘hero Images’ were named as such because they probably saved many e-commerce sites when they figured this one out.

It’s not that slider images are ALWAYS bad, it’s just that they are usually implemented poorly. Let’s go over the reasons why you should stick with a single hero image.

What’s wrong with sliders?

  • Humans react to movement. Why take their eyes off the shiny Buy Now button?
  • Too many messages create sensory overload. If you confuse them, you lose them.
  • They can easily look like ad banners, which people have been (for the most part) mentally conditioned to ignore.
  • From a technical aspect, they can slow your site down via the massive amount of code it takes to create them and they often break through browser updates and variations. (Most theme patches I see are related to sliders)

To be frank, a hero image must be a true hero (as far as the value) or else it’s just a wanna-be wasting space on your page.

What do I mean by that?

Banners must convey a strong value proposition or be a specific time-sensitive promotion.

Without this, it’s just another pretty graphic distracting your potential customers from the real prize: your products.

lessmosquito.com has a fantastic value proposition that’s lost amongst the noise of multiple banners.

In another study, E-commerce site Build.com generated 6% more conversions using promo code banner ads.

E-commerce Testing Idea #2 – Add value vs offering nothing

What are you selling? Why should I buy from you?

Zappos.com doesn’t have to explain to people what they are. As a little-known e-commerce site, you don’t have that luxury.

What makes you better than the rest? That’s your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

You might be thinking “Yeah yeah, I should say that I’m better than the rest because everyone else says they’re better than the rest.

There’s a bit of confusion and fluff when people start mentioning “value”.

What is your business best at? Or what could you say that no one else is saying? Put your focus into that, at least initially, and expand from there.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Let me break it down:

3 steps to crafting a winning value proposition

  1. Make a list of all the benefits your product/store offers to customers
  2. Identify the value your product/store brings to customers
  3. Differentiate and position your Shopify store

Take the time to learn how to craft a value proposition in your business. Dig deep into what that unique value is because it will pay off now AND in the future.

E-commerce Testing Idea #3 – Visible contact information

It doesn’t seem like a big deal to put your phone number and your email on your website header.

You may be thinking… “But I don’t want people calling me! I want to run my business behind the scenes! Isn’t that the point of an internet business?”

I totally get it. I do. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that lifestyle. Especially if you are dropshipping products.

From a customer’s standpoint. I don’t think anybody truly enjoys talking on the phone, let alone in person, to buy something. That’s why e-commerce is as big as it is.

Not to digress, but understand this…

You have to be in the trenches to understand your customers’ concerns. You should be thankful for every phone call you get because they’re little nuggets of golden opportunity to listen, ask, and revise your process.

Can you outsource customer service? Of course, but you need to understand the questions your customers are asking first to better convey helpful information on your site and through your marketing.

Lastly, they may not even call. It’s simply a trust thing knowing that they COULD call if they wanted.

Shoptimized™ Theme users, heydayfootwear.com prominently display their phone number to help build trust.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Shoptimized™ theme makes it ridiculously easy to display your contact information prominently to help increase your e-commerce conversion rate.

E-commerce Testing Idea #4 – In-your-face free shipping

There are three things that you can be sure of in this life: death, taxes, and killing your conversions by charging for shipping.

Charging shipping used to not be a big deal. But now everybody ships for free. Why?

Everyone is competing with Amazon Prime. Once they made free shipping ‘their thing’, it’s been hard for people to choose to shop anywhere else.

If you’re not currently offering free shipping, find a creative way to offer it.

A 2017 study from Baymard.com surveyed nearly 1,800 people asking their reason for abandoning their online purchase during checkout.

60% of them said “Extra costs too high (shipping, tax, fees)”.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Sometimes, it may seem like it’s impossible to offer free shipping and stay profitable. However, here are a few strategies to consider trying out:

  • Create a baseline: Try out free shipping versus no free shipping (on the same product). See which one wins out
  • Create thresholds: Create a minimum price that customers have to have in their cart to qualify for free shipping. Check the profit margin gap providing free shipping and see if free shipping pays off with more sales!
  • Set restrictions: Allow only certain products to qualify for free shipping. See if you get an increase in sales on those products.
  • Increase prices: Try increasing all your product prices to see if it offsets the cost of free shipping.
The UpliftHero App leverages your free shipping threshold to boost average order values.

E-commerce Testing Idea #5 – Showcase your bestsellers

The goal of the homepage is to get people to stick around. The 2nd goal of the homepage is to get people to buy something.

People want to know what other people are buying. It’s a shortcut tactic. It saves them time, money, and frustration by piggybacking off the trials and tribulations of customers before them.

It’s why Amazon has the best sellers section for each product category.

Not to mention, it’s social proof. Your best-selling product should have testimonials. An even better reason to show it off.

However, most Shopify store owners don’t make this inherently obvious for some reason. They offer specific items first that may not be tailored to a wide range of their visitors.

Or worse, they list their products with a default sort by name. Really?!

Some would argue they want visitors to notice the highest-priced items first. This is a useful price tactic and I agree with this, but do it using a carefully crafted collection of your best sellers.

Something that you can do to achieve even more sales is to personalize, personalize, personalize.

Just because you sell a lot of something doesn’t mean everyone would necessarily want it. Yes, it’s a good start to go off of.

If you have the data, you should always be reminding people what they’ve looked at, what they’ve bought, and what they might like based on both.

But to start…

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

What do you sell the most of on your Shopify store? Find out and then show those off, boldly.

lessmosquito.com shows off its best sellers on the home page.

E-commerce Testing Idea #6 – Make sure your search bar is easy to find

Since Google has been around, people have been learning how to search for things on the internet. Amazon taught us how to find products. And now, not only do people know how to search for anything and everything…they expect it.

Be like the big boys and put your search prominently on your site. Humans are still visual creatures and would rather see product images, but there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to just search for what you KNOW you want.

Google has also been getting better at making people lazy with searching. Make sure your product descriptions are actually descriptive so that your search results are actually useful.

Why is search so important? Because it converts insanely better.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

davidwolfe.com‘s store makes the search field the header’s key feature so it can’t be missed.

The Shoptimized™ theme makes it super simple to turn your search feature into a sales machine.

E-commerce Testing Idea #7 – Site-wide benefits bar statements

“Why you should buy from us instead of Amazon” should be a staple with all e-commerce shops now. Not all of them may accept this fact, but it’s the truth. The smart Shopify store owners that implement this will have the edge over other Shopify store owners.

A slick-looking banner that’s always above the fold that reminds potential customers of those key benefits is a sure way to get them to stay all the way to the ‘thank you’ page.

AO.com makes sure you know the benefits of shopping with them front and center and right under the header.

E-commerce Testing Idea #8 – Canned product descriptions versus creative

Product descriptions are kind of important. No, actually, really important. It’s crazy how many people will copy and paste their supplier’s product description without hesitation.

The point of a product description is to give clarity to the prospect of buying a product, not to persuade them. A prospect can persuade themselves to become a customer and buy your product if you give them enough information to make them see how it can benefit them.

Here’s an example of an elaborate product description that wins style points from J Peterman:

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

There must be a balance:

  • Above all, make it human-friendly.
  • Turn features into benefits. “Widget X has Y so that you can Z
  • Rewrite the manufacturer description in your own tone and style.
  • Make it flow. Break up the sections where needed.
  • Provide some technical specs
  • Provide a comparison table for similar products

Now, some may say that product descriptions matter less in a visual, video-driven world.

That’s simply not the case.

Even in your video scripts, you have power with your words.

This leads me to your next experiment…

E-commerce Testing Idea #9 – Insert product videos (with captions and mute)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. All the data we’ve seen indicates the video is the future for most things concerning the internet.

According to Bluleadz.com:

  1. Shoppers who watch videos are almost twice as likely (1.81x) to purchase a product than non-viewers.
  2. 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and product videos increase the likelihood of purchases by 85%.
  3. 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
  4. Almost 50% of Internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
  5. Use the right voice! 75% of consumers have decided to not buy a product because the voiceover in a video annoyed them. 83% of viewers prefer an informal and chatty tone in their product and explainer videos.

Zappos has videos for almost all of their products but my personal favorite is Cold Steel.

Cold Steel has become famous for the wild and often grotesque demonstrations of their swords. It serves as one of their main product showcase centerpieces demonstrating their effectiveness but also demonstrating how freakin’ awesome they are.

Content creators on Facebook and Instagram have trained our brains to watch videos on mute with captions. The e-commerce world can stand on the shoulders of giants by adopting that same style.

ConversionXL did their own split tests that revealed auto-play videos worked amazingly well for complex, high ticket items.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Not doing videos yet? Try doing them with your most popular products and see if it increases sales for that product.

E-commerce Testing Idea #10 – Make your shopping cart ‘persistent’

People like to shop around. They want to know they’re getting the best bang for their buck.

So if a prospect goes to your site, adds your products to their shopping cart, scratches their head and then hops to a competitor site…one of three things could happen:

  • Bad, but not horrible: They buy from nobody and wait.
  • Bad. They decide they like your competitor better and buy from them
  • Horrible. They decide they like you after checking a competitor’s store but their desired item is no longer in the cart, so they get frustrated and buy elsewhere.

We want to have what’s called a ‘persistent cart’. This is done through what’s called a ‘cookie’.

Nordstrom Rack does an excellent job telling you just how long they’ll keep your cart. They also give a clear call to action on how to save it longer.

You can also allow the customer to email themselves their cart so they can review it at their own convenience with the combined effect of being in their inbox.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

At the time of writing this article, Shopify does not natively handle persistent carts. but there are plenty of apps that allow for this.

E-commerce Testing Idea #11 – Answer purchasing questions and uncertainties

Many people assume if a customer is confused about something or unsure, they’ll just ask. Right? This couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a lot of eyes on something before that one personality type and/or that one person who wants it bad enough will actually ask.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Think in terms of your customer. Think of every doubt you could ever have about buying from you.

Or if it’s easier, think about doubts you yourself would have if you were buying from a competitor. Or just a random e-commerce store.

This exercise helps you to build out your FAQs with meaningful and clear answers.

The Exploding Kittens card game has a dedicated FAQ page to help buyers understand the game and questions about merchandise and card replacements.

Make a list of common objections and doubts you see on your competitors’ pages as well as online forums and social media.

One of the best and quickest ways to put your ear to the ground for product feedback is to look at Amazon reviews. Reviews that are marked most helpful can help you praise the perks of the product.

But here’s what’s even better…

Find the most highly rated negative review. From there you find out why the buyer was unsatisfied and alleviate fears of your own future customers.

E-commerce Testing Idea #12 – Offer multiple ways to pay

There’s a couple of reasons why you should offer multiple ways to pay on your checkout.

  1. With data breaches left and right on the news, some people are wary of using their credit cards online for payments with sites they aren’t familiar with.
  2. A 2009 survey of 2,000 online UK Shoppers found 50 percent of those who don’t regularly shop online will cancel their entire purchase if their preferred payment method isn’t available

A 2017 study from Baymard.com surveyed nearly 1,800 people asking their reason for abandoning their online purchase during checkout.

19% of them said: “I didn’t trust the site with my credit card information.”

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Adding more payment options like Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal will help you win over customers you’d otherwise lose.

Some stores even take cryptocurrency.

It’s further proof that when you offer multiple ways for customers to pay, there’s almost always no downside.

Shopify allows store owners to add multiple forms of a wide variety of payments.

Be warned, with more choices, there’s buyer indecision. Stick to the top three you know that your customers are likely to use.

If you’re selling big-ticket items, it’s best to include financing as one of those options.

E-commerce Testing Idea #13 – Stop asking for useless information at checkout

Sometimes an online shopping experience goes something like this: You browse, you find some things you like, you add them to your cart, and then you’re ready to check out.

Then BAM.

Once you get to the checkout, you’re left to fill out enough form fields that you think you’re filing your taxes.

More shit to fill in = More buyer frustration = More cart abandonment

This is why people buy from Amazon. And not even just the one-click buy, but just the time it saves to have all the shipping and payment info already there.

It’s already there for them. They don’t even mind paying a higher price if it’s something they want fast.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Don’t ask for information you don’t absolutely need.

And just like in our previous point, try adding in multiple payment methods that sometimes allow these forms to be skipped.

Shopify natively has a Google autocomplete for addresses which makes it nice for easy address entry.

E-commerce Testing Idea #14 – Don’t force people to register with your site

This is an extension of the previous point.

This one is brief because the data is there. There’s no arguing an opinion on this one.

A 2017 study from Baymard.com surveyed nearly 1,800 people asking their reason for abandoning their online purchase during checkout.

37% of them said “The site wanted me to create an account”

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Don’t make people fill in extra stuff. Give them the option to checkout as a guest. It’s an easy option in Shopify to select.

E-commerce Testing Idea #15 – Show prospects how much your customers like your stuff

People use reviews. They value them as an essential part of the buying process.

According to a study (need to find it) people trust reviews more than a recommendation from a family member or friend.

I bet you even look up product reviews while you’re shopping in a physical store. I know that I sure do.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

In case you missed it: Start showcasing your reviews.

Loox is one of the best apps to use to showcase customer satisfaction in a visual and automatic way.

If you sell a common product and can’t seem to get reviews for a product. Consider pulling reviews from an external site to have more of them. Because that’s where they’re going to go next to find them anyways.

Oh, and don’t delete negative reviews.

They can help because:

  1. It makes the positive reviews more believable (fake reviews are the rage now)
  2. Sometimes the person ranting about something negative does not apply to the person considering your product

For example, negative reviews that are well written can actually increase sales of a product.

One reason is how buyers gain confidence that “if this is the worst this product will throw at me, it must be pretty good.

E-commerce Testing Idea #16 – Upsell smart

Upselling and cross-selling are THE way to get your customers to buy more stuff. Specifically, this is what we call increasing the AOV (Average order value, average order size, etc).

We’ve all heard the best upsell: Would you like fries with that?

Would you like to upgrade to a large one? Would you like to make that a combo today?

Some people get confused about how to do that accurately. Here’s some clarity:

Offer related products. A good example, would you like some nails to go with your nail gun? Something that someone would naturally want to buy to accompany their purchase.

Offer something at a maximum of 60% of the original item. If they are buying a car, you offer a warranty. If they’re buying a chainsaw, you offer chain and machine oil.

An example of a really bad upsell:

“Your customer probably doesn’t want a velvet choker with their BBQ oven mitt (Unless you sell sexy lady grill accessories…but if not, then we’re a little worried)”

Offer items AFTER checkout. Supermarkets offer you ‘impulse purchases’ at checkout. Don’t treat your upsells and cross-sells this way. Supermarkets do this because you will be waiting in line and you have nowhere else to go.

It doesn’t work that way online, people can leave any time they want. Get them to secure their first purchase first.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

This is why we made UpliftHero. Our app solves the problem of balancing increasing your customer’s average cart total versus not annoying your customer with pop-ups and scaring them off.

E-commerce Testing Idea #17 – Big and clear call to actions

Creating a smooth and painless user experience is THE KEY to getting customers to buy from you.

A 2017 study from Baymard.com surveyed nearly 1,800 people asking their reason for abandoning their online purchase during checkout.

28% of them said “Too long/complicated checkout process”

20% of them said “Website had errors / crashed”

It needs to be obvious how things work on your site. And it needs to work. This is an important thing to remember: it needs to be like what they’ve seen before.

Two buttons matter the most: Check Out and Add to Cart

And for the love of everything holy don’t make them hunt for those two buttons. That’s a surefire way to limit your sales.

Pier1 Imports uses their blue CTA buttons to lead customers through the checkout and makes it obvious where to go next.

Best way to use this to increase your Shopify sales

Let’s do a quick call to action overview:

  1. Make them obvious.
  2. Make the buttons BIG.
  3. Use colors that pop and that are noticeable in contrast to the surrounding elements.
  4. Wording matters, test it.
  5. See # 1.

Conduct your own research to come up with more accurate findings

So you may be wondering how exactly you should ‘test’ these things on your site?

User testing my friend! Userbrain.com is what I’ve found most effective.

Give them some tasks (find this, buy it) and have them provide commentary on their experience as they do it.

In a case study by UserTesting, their client Walmart Canada increased overall revenue by 13% from layout redesign resulting from user testing.

So, try these ideas out! Test them out! Get feedback and then keep revising!

We’ve also written extensively about how to identify conversion killers in your Shopify store.

Another thing to mention…

Do you want a lightning-fast and easy way to implement most of these proven e-commerce test ideas?

I thought so!

Head on over and take a look at the Shoptimized™ theme.

It’s been built on years and years of e-commerce conversion research with proven test winners.

Saving you YEARS of frustration refining your site for peak sales.

Well, what are you waiting for? Click here to get the best converting Shopify theme.

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Bradley Long

Bradley Long

Bradley is a Conversion Rate Expert and store owner since 2005. He’s helped some of the world’s most sophisticated brands to double and sometimes triple their conversion rates. He architected the #1 unofficial Shopify theme, Shoptimized™ and is also CEO of Funnel Buildr, the perfect tool for massively growing your store’s Average Order Value.

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