How Moosejaw's customers guided its site redesign

February 25, 2016 11:58 AM

To this day Moosejaw CEO Eoin Comerford can’t look at his company’s old website without cringing.

“We had suboptimal responsive design,” he told attendees this week at the eTail West conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Responsive design is a method of building a website so that it adapts the display to the device the visitor is using. “We had a rather cluttered design,” Comerford said. “It’s certainly not the site of someone who thinks they’re a leading-edge e-commerce retailer. We wanted to take that and put it together in a cleaner, more modern way.”

And that’s what outdoor apparel and equipment retailer Moosejaw, No. 273 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, set out to do in in June 2014 when the outdoor apparel and equipment retailer embarked on a website redesign.

“We wanted to improve our conversion rate and, more importantly, we wanted to improve dollars per session,” he says. “We wanted to improve load speed.”

With 25% of the retailer’s annual sales coming during the month of December alone, the Moosejaw team had to work fast so that the site was done in time for summer 2015, giving the retailer plenty of “baking time” to get ready for the holidays.

Before redesigning its site, Moosejaw asked its customers to identify what they saw as the problems on

The retailer put out a survey asking a simple question: “Have you ever not bought because of a site issue?” That survey generated 19,000 responses from shoppers, including around 4,000 “open form,” or longer, responses.

Comerford, as he does with all customer feedback that Moosejaw receives, says he read every single one.

“Any kind of site redesign has to start with customer insights,” he told attendees. “We got so much insight from this process that we boiled it down to some overarching strategies that informed our site redesign. You have to get that input from a wide range of our customers.”

That feedback led Comerford and his team to focus on three areas: content, loyalty, and the mobile experience. Mobile, in particular, was a top priority.

“This was built from the ground up to be responsive,” he says. “What this does is it’s actually sniffing out the device type, sniffing out the page resolution, then it’s changing what loads in what order based on those things.”

In addition to making mobile shopping easier, the new Moosejaw site is now cleaner, has better images, and has better search functionality that enables shoppers to more easily find the products they are looking for, Comerford says.

The category-specific search functionality was another key change made largely as a result of customer feedback. Under the old model, the categories on the left side of the web page remained the same regardless of whether a shopper was looking for a tent or a T-shirt. Now, when a customer searches for a product, he sees a list of categories tailored to that specific product.

“The order, the type, the facets themselves are all category-specific,” he says. “That’s made a huge difference in the number of searches and the number of pages one of our customers visits to find what they need.”

Customer response to the relaunched site, which went live in June, was almost immediate. Comerford says conversion is up 31% compared to the old site.

It’s that kind of immediate impact that he says explains why he reads every comment from a customer, and why he thinks every e-commerce executive should do the same.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire when it comes to customer experience,” he says.




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