News’s new website redesign gives shoppers more search options

February 26, 2015 05:24 PM president Jason Apfel and his team noticed two trends in 2014 about how shoppers interacted with the web-only retailer’s website.

The first was that more shoppers were visiting the site using mobile devices. “The advent of mobile and the increase in mobile traffic is just exponential,” Apfel says. He also recognized that the site was not as easy to shop on mobile devices as it could have been.

The second trend was consumers buying fragrances tended to shop by brand name, while those who visited the site for hair care or skincare products did a lot more time browsing for specific kinds of products.

When it comes to products for the skin or hair, Apfel says, “There’s a million different variations. Is it aerosol, is it a balm, is it a cream, is it a detangler? When they clicked on hair care, they were trying to use the taxonomy, and it just wasn’t sufficient on the old site.”

So Apfel and his team decided to make changes., No. 159 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, launched a redesigned website just before Christmas using responsive design techniques that adapt the website so that it best fits the screen of the device on the shopper is using. The redesign is aimed at making it easier for consumers to shop on smartphones and tablets.

In another major change, FragranceNet’s web team introduced additional search filters so that shoppers could go beyond the brand name to find the product that best suits their needs. That change was mainly aimed at consumers shopping for hair care and skincare products.

Before, shoppers could only peruse skincare and other non-fragrance products by brand. With the redesigned site, shoppers can narrow choices in a variety of ways. For instance, when searching for hair conditioner, the navigation panel on the left side of the page lets shoppers narrow options by gender, age, product type, product form or product benefit, in addition to shopping by brand.

The redesign, which was done in-house, was born of A/B testing that conducted over the holiday shopping season.

“The filters along the left-hand side, we did try to categorize them to filter it down as best we can for the consumer,” he says. “We are seeing customers use it.”

Another trend that Apfel noticed during testing is that products with video reviews led to more conversions, though he wouldn’t specify the uptick in conversion rate.

“If (a customer is) curious about wanting to try a new item, there’s a personal aspect to seeing someone talk about it,” he says. “It seems like customers are watching them and learning about them and converting at a higher rate. That propels us to invest more in video reviews.”

The online retailer, which carries more than 17,000 SKUs, reported $190 million in sales in 2014, up 11.8% from $170 million in 2013.

Its Facebook fan page eclipsed the one million “like” milestone in 2014. In terms of generating additional revenue, Apfel says he views the page as a tool to build relationships so the brand can earn consumers’ trust and be front of mind when it comes time to buy.

“That’s what will keep them as a loyal customer, he says. “When it’s time to replenish the bottle of perfume that ran out, because they see us in their news feed, because we’re constantly communicating with them, that’s our biggest asset.”




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