Today we’re heading behind the eCommerce scene at blubolt with Jamie Willmott, our Optimisation Manager. With experience on both the agency and brand (for example, Clarks and Pure Electric) sides of the industry, Jamie’s honed his focus on eCommerce website optimisation, mainly with Shopify Plus stores. He's kindly agreed to share some insights on how optimisation works, common misconceptions and recent trends. Let’s get started!

1. What does an ‘eCommerce Optimisation Manager’ actually do?

The short answer: I help eCommerce retailers improve their website performance. That is, turning more of their visitors into paying customers!

The long answer: as an Optimisation Manager, I derive insights from website data and user research to both identify friction points and opportunities for eCommerce websites.

Curiosity is the key attribute required for my role. I like finding out things, understanding what works, and what doesn’t work (and why!) Teasing out new insights from data, user research and experimentation is something I really enjoy. This ultimately leads to meaningful A/B tests and changes to improve user experience and boost KPIs. And then, of course, a greater number of conversions for the brand.

Optimisation & Shopify Plus: blubolt's Jamie Willmott tells us how it's done!

2. What are the most common misconceptions clients have around optimisation?

I’d say the most common misconception is that optimisation is tactical, that it’s simply a one-off project or just A/B testing.

The reality, however, is that building an optimisation programme requires a lot of effort! And this effort must be applied consistently over time to achieve the best results.

The first phase in crafting an effective optimisation programme is always research. This helps determine what’s happening on the current site, where it’s happening, and why it’s happening. For example, if you went to the doctors they wouldn’t immediately put you on the operating table. They’d first run tests to understand what the underlying causes of your symptoms are. From there, you’d get a diagnosis and then the appropriate medication to heal it.

The same principle applies to how we run optimisation services. We understand what needs to be done through data and user research. This includes using tools like Google Analytics analysis, usability testing, surveys, heatmaps, session recordings and so on. Using these tools helps uncover the most impactful changes and generates test ideas for experimentation.

Research: the first phase in crafting an effective optimisation programme for your Shopify Plus site.[/caption]

3. What optimisation trends have you seen emerge in the last year?

Experimentation is becoming widely adopted.

Experimentation is gradually becoming the culture within retailers, both on and offline. The need to test and learn across all aspects of the business is now seen as a necessary ingredient in success, rather than a nice to have, at the highest management levels.

Obviously, most retailers don’t have the depth and breadth of resources available to the likes of Google, Netflix, Amazon, or for conducting experiments in different sections of the business. Nevertheless, regardless of size, brands of all sizes are running with the test and learn approach and incorporating it into business strategies.

Experimentation can involve testing ads, new product features, different retention strategies, email campaigns, store layouts, and call centre scripts. The principles of experimentation can be used anywhere and the more brands embrace it, the more likely they are to achieve success.

Advancements in optimisation tools.

Several new optimisation tools have been released in the last year. The most notable is Google Analytics 4, which is the next generation and upgrade from Universal Analytics. Described by Google as providing merchants with smarter insights and a more complete understanding of how customers interact, the upgrade is also built for the long-term (with or without cookie identifiers). You can read more about this here.

Microsoft Clarity is another new release optimisation tool worth mentioning. Microsoft recently launched this as their own user behavioural tool, featuring session replays and heatmaps. Best of all it’s absolutely free! We’ve used Clarity regularly this year and are really impressed with some of its features. It definitely rivals other tools on the market such as Hotjar, Lucky Orange, SessionCam, and Mouseflow.

Optimising & Shopify Plus: enjoying experimentation & capitalising on tool advancements.[/caption]

Customer experience (CX) and retention.

While short term strategies and quick-win tactics have their place, long term growth comes from creating a great user experience in order to retain customers.

To achieve a great customer experience (CX), brands need to better understand their customers through reliable data and thorough research. I’m a huge advocate of qualitative research: user interviews, surveys, usability testing and so on. Brands have become far more data-rich and, although numbers and statistics have their place, we need to remember there is a human being with a brain interacting with our product or service. It’s important to understand the psychology behind a customer’s buying decision, including their biases and tendencies.

Do you know why customers buy from you? Why 98% of web visitors didn’t buy from you? What positive or negative things do people say about your company? How likely are customers to buy again or recommend you? This is qualitative research.

4. Compared to other platforms you’ve worked with, how does Shopify Plus measure up in terms of optimisation?

Shopify Plus is known for its stability and agility which lends itself great to conversion optimisation. After all, you can’t have conversions if your site is constantly down or buggy! Shopify Plus' agility is also highly beneficial; it's users know that any issues can be fixed, or new features added and deployed quickly.

The other advantage is the sheer number of tools and apps that work seamlessly with Shopify Plus. Whether it’s A/B testing tools, Google Analytics integration, review platforms, widgets and plugins, Shopify Plus has all bases covered. This is unsurprising when you consider that Shopify is trusted by over one million businesses. It makes sense for them to appeal to the masses.

Shopify Plus: a trusted eCommerce platform.

Opening up to optimisation.

So you’re now up to speed on what eCommerce optimisation actually involves, common pitfalls and trends. Need help improving your website performance? Want to understand why your users don’t convert? Do get in touch with blubolt here to discuss your requirements. We would love to help!

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