B&H Photo gets a clearer picture of online shoppers’ intentions

August 24, 2015 01:07 PM

B&H Photo-Video says it is benefiting from employing a web testing and personalization software provider to take the guesswork out of figuring out what online shoppers like or in some cases overlook.

The 40-year-old New York-based B&H, No. 225 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, which sells an array of photo, video and audio equipment, has grown its e-commerce sales to more than 50% of its total revenue. It chose SiteSpect’s digital optimization platform to get quicker and more efficient insights into its shoppers’ behavior, says Shia Meisels, head of B&H’s information systems research and development. The company did not disclose terms of the deal.

For example, B&H e-commerce personnel noticed higher-than-normal rates of returns from Canadian shoppers who often complained  they were being asked to pay higher prices at checkout than those advertised on the website, says Shaya Jacobowitz, B&H’s project manager.

Though B&H had always posted a website option for shoppers to revise prices by currency, shoppers apparently failed to notice, he says.

Using SiteSpect as its testing platform and analyzing data from SiteSpect’s tests, the retailer posted a large banner welcoming Canadian shoppers when a Canadian customer entered the site, and tested ways to appeal to that shopper, Jacobowitz says.

“SiteSpect’s technology shows us small things we can do that make a big difference,” Jacobowitz says, noting that the testing doesn’t slow down the website and allows experimenting with a variety of options at the same time. B&H also added a daily-deals feature and increased the numbers of consumers who signed up in the past month to receive email alerts about the limited-time offers, though Jacobowitz declined to give specific figures.

“We can do any kind of test on any part of the website, from using search algorithms to changing the colors of buttons,” Jacobowitz says.

SiteSpect tests such functionality as checkout, shipping offers and price promotions. SiteSpect also lets retailers present different variations of features to customer groups based on customer lifetime value, geography, device and other characteristics. They can also use the technology to test different website images, form fields, and static and dynamic content, says Kim Ann King, SiteSpect’s chief marketing officer.

Related:B&H Photo-Video launches a free shipping program

Unlike alternative testing solutions, SiteSpect does not use JavaScript tags so there is no "flicker effect" common from the latency introduced by tag-based tools, King says. Instead, SiteSpect uses patented proxy technology and sits between a company's website and its visitors. SiteSpect monitors web traffic and manipulates live content as it travels over the Internet. 

Pricing starts at $75,000 for an annual subscription, she says.

SiteSpect’s retail customers include Wal-Mart (No. 3 in the Top 500 Guide), Target (No. 16), Eddie Bauer (No. 103), Urban Outfitters (No. 49), Wayfair (No. 33) and (No. 31). Combined with other retail clients in the Top 500, they generate $65 billion in annual revenue.

Related:SiteSpect helps Wayfair grow online sales

Retailers can choose to test as much or as little of their traffic to understand what variations of content, features and functionality their visitors prefer, King says. She says retailers usually start with a smaller percentage of traffic to mitigate risk and then roll out test winners to a larger audience.

 “We’re now past the period of merchants spending marketing dollars on acquiring traffic,” King says. “We’re now in the decade of optimizing traffic.”




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