Every website on the planet is testing SOMETHING to help it reach its goals.
Testing, in internet and e-commerce parlance, means creating a few scenarios, putting it in front of users, and seeing which one performs better. There’s a bazillion things to test on the internet: marketing messages, imagery, site experience, offers, and on and on. In this blog, we’ll share some testing strategies that can help you optimize for velocity before the busy holiday selling season. Let’s figure that out now so you can cruise into holiday confident that you’ve done your homework. Don’t let those fancy “optimize for velocity” words put you off. I simply mean, how can testing offer you insight to help you sell more?
We spoke to some eBay sellers about their testing strategies. Here are their tests and what they learned. Disclaimer: what worked for them may not work for you. Don’t take their learnings and blindly apply it your business. Every business is different, and you’ll need to do the work to determine what works for you.
1. Free shipping vs paid shipping.
“I use free shipping storewide in both stores, with shipping costs included in the price. To see if that was the best option, I took one popular product line, lowered the price, and added calculated shipping. Sales of that line dropped dramatically.” Susan concluded that free shipping in a benefit to her buyer and helps differentiate her from competitors. She now offers it on all her items.
eBay’s Promotions Manager allows sellers to create special offers and promotions like “Buy One, Get One” or “Free Shipping When You Spend $50”. While the tool is terrific for creating offers, it also represents an opportunity to test, test, test your way into increased sales.
For example, if your Average Order Value (AOV) is lower than you’d like, consider testing a promotion to boost it. Let’s use a real-world example: For the first half of 2017, the AOV in my eBay store was $15. To boost that, I ran a “Free Shipping on orders over $20” promotion, and guess what? Sales increased, AOV increased, and now it’s just north of $21. Boom. If you’re an eBay stores subscriber, check out the offer types within Promotions Manager and start thinking creatively about how you can test offers to boost sales.
3. Promoted Listings
Promoted Listings is an eBay tool that allows store subscribers to get more exposure for their listings in search results. Promoted Listings works on a bidding system, meaning you set the price you are willing to pay should your promoted item sell via the ad placement. Unlike traditional “pay-per-click” advertising, you only pay the ad fee if the item sells as a result of being promoted.
While eBay offers guidance on how to set your ad rate, we also recommend you test to find the optimal rate for you: just enough to drive the sales you want, without overpaying. Here’s how to test with Promoted Listings.
I consider the three ideas above “formal” testing in that you are changing a few specific elements of your listing to optimize sales. You may want to also consider what I call “casual” testing, defined as small tweaks to boost velocity, including:
eBay seller Robbin L. tweaks her listings almost daily to see what works for her business: “I have been doing all kinds of tests. I tweak and change my titles. I have even been using my title real estate to test branding my eBay store name by adding it to my title. I have cleaned up my item specifics to see if that boosts sales. I offer free shipping but occasionally add paid shipping to see if my sales fluctuate. I use the social media buttons and the Promoted Listing tools. I have found varied results, some things work, some don’t. But overall, my sales have picked up.”
Testing may not be intuitive for some people (like me—why do you think I write for a living?) so here’s some testing tips from fellow sellers and eBay staffers.
Tell us, sellers, what sort of testing have you done on eBay and what were the results?
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