Why Ditching My $5,000 Custom Design Increased Sales

TMlogoWe just finished a complete redesign of one of my stores – TrollingMotors.net – and I want to give you an inside look at the new site. Specifically, I want to share the thought process behind the redesign, some specific before-and-after design changes, and the impact it had from a conversion rate and revenue perspective.

I’m really excited about this post, as it’s a perspective that’s rarely shared publicly – so let’s dive in!

Refining Our Unique Selling Proposition

When we launched in 2010, we really didn’t know our market well. We sold all types of trolling motors, but didn’t know who our most valuable customers were or how we should be targeting them. We quickly realized it was hard to make money selling entry-level motors ($100 to $200 range) because the margins were small, and we couldn’t afford to offer the level of service we felt was important.  This was a case where the $50 to $200 price point I often advocate wasn’t a good fit.

Instead, our best customers were the ones who purchased high-end trolling motors. While the margins were still on the smaller end, the larger purchase price ($800 to $2,000) still made sense from a profitability standpoint. Customers buying these higher-end “bow mount motors” would also be more likely to appreciate the personal, expert service we provided.

So we made the decision to focus primarily on high-end trolling motors. We discontinued most of the entry-level motors and focused exclusively on more expensive bow mount models throughout the new site. We also increased the information available for these higher-end products … but more on that later.

Our New Focus: Bow Mount Motors

BowMountFocus

 

Highlighting Our Other Advantages

Our new selling proposition focused around our expertise on high-end trolling motors, but we also had a few other comparative advantages:

  1. We offered free shipping on ALL trolling motor purchases, and
  2. We didn’t charge sales tax on any purchases.

Motors are fairly heavy and can be expensive, making free shipping and no sales tax highly compelling to prospective customers. We had previously emphasized these benefits on individual pages but made them even more prominent with the new design:

Old “Free Shipping & No Tax” Styling

ProductUSPBefore

 

New “Free Shipping & No Tax” Styling

ProductUSPAfter

 

Re-Thinking the Design

When it come to the site design and layout, we started with a fresh slate and re-did everything. Sometimes it’s easier to build something from scratch than try to fix what’s broken.

Template Issues

When we initially launched the site, I decided it was time to “do it right” and hire a professional designer to create our new website. My previous eCommerce ventures had all been simple websites I’d bootstrapped myself. With a little more capital to work with, I wanted something flashier. Those earlier sites were successful despite fairly basic designs, so I figured a top-notch design would really help the business take off.

Being completely design inept, I invested about $5,000 for a custom-designed store – and it was beautiful! I immediately began envisioning insanely high conversion rates and massive sales. You can see one of the early homepage layouts below:

Original, Super-Sexy Homepage

Homepage0

For a time, everything worked out well. But then I needed to make some basic changes to the homepage and I had no idea how to accomplish it. First, I wasn’t familiar with the store template or layout because I hadn’t built it. And second, there were so many high-tech design elements (backgrounds, textures, etc.) that I wasn’t able to incorporate my changes cleanly.

Every time I needed something done, I was at the mercy of the developer, which quickly grew expensive and inconvenient. After a lot of research and work, I started to get the hang of the template system, but I still wasn’t able to cleanly integrate my changes into the complex design.

So when it came time to relaunch the site, I decided to rebuild it completely from the ground up. We started with a 100% clean installation and opted to use a stock (gasp!) Magento template that was very clean and utilized a lot of white space. We made a few changes, but largely left it “as is.” You can see the new look to the site and homepage below, which doesn’t look nearly as professional as the initial version.

New Homepage Using a Stock Template

Homepage2

Homepage Usability and Simplification

The initial homepage was beautiful but wasn’t very functional from a usability standpoint. It was hard to quickly jump to key motor categories, and too much of the homepage was taken up by the large fishing picture. In our second iteration (before the full-on relaunch), we made all categories accessible from the homepage as seen below:

An Experimental Homepage Navigation

HPNavigationBefore

This was a big improvement in terms of functionality, but we ultimately decided there was simply too much going on. With the relaunch, we instead decided to give shoppers just 4 or 5 options for top-level categories. Then, when they clicked through to a subpage, they could make another decision at that point if need be. Generally, people are much better at making a series of smaller decisions than trying to pick one option out of 30 right away. The new homepage navigation looks like this:

Final, More Simplistic Navigation

HPNavigationAfter

Category Pages

Our category-level pages were an area that we knew needed a lot of improvement. The legacy site offered several options for filtering products but next to no high-level information on which products were best. The text was also very small and hard to read, and it was hard to make a decision from the dozens and dozens of options listed on each page.

For the new category page design, we wanted to provide at-a-glance information for different product lines so customers could quickly make decisions. We increased the font and picture sizes, and highlighted the key strengths of each product in large bullets.

 

Old Category Pages

CategoryBefore

New Category Pages

CategoryPagesAfter2

Our old boat-specific pages were also very drab and didn’t contain much helpful content for picking the right motor. With the new category design, we incorporated high-level buying decisions, compatibility charts and specific model recommendations into each boat-specific page so that boat owners could quickly understand the key considerations for their specific boat models:

New Boat-Specific Pages

Category-After-3

 

Improving the Content

Our initial product pages weren’t too bad – but they weren’t phenomenal, either. If we were going to fulfill our claim of being experts in high-end trolling motors, we needed to provide as much information as possible to help customers make an informed buying decision.

The old pages had basic product specs and a short description for each of the product features. While the writing was unique, the format was very similar to that found on the manufacturer site and many other stores online:

Old Product Pages

SpecsBefore1

When we set out to design the new product pages, I made a list of all the common questions customers had asked us in the past. Things like:

  • Will this be compatible with my boat?
  • How much thrust (power) do I need?
  • How do I install and wire this?
  • How is this motor different from others?

… and many more. For each common question that arose, we made sure to include an answer on each product page. We also tried to provide every possible spec, dimension and weight. (The manufacturer must have grown weary of our questions and requests for additional information!) All told, we likely increased the amount of product information by tenfold:

New Product Pages

ProductPageAfter2

Technical Library

We’d written a few buying guides and technical articles for the old site, but it could by no means be considered an extensive technical library on the subject of trolling motors. We set about to fix that with the relaunch.

We once again looked through our list of customers’ questions and created a technical article to answer each specific issue. When we finished, we had more than 20 technical resources compiled in our newly dubbed “Technical Resources and Guides” Library. This knowledge base helped us:

  • Further increase the value of product pages by linking to articles for in-depth explanations
  • Build authority and bolster our claims as being “experts” in the area
  • Create a valuable resource to attract links
  • Better educate our customers, increasing the chance they’ll make a purchase

 

Personalizing the “About Us” Page

I’ve never paid much attention to the “About Us” page on my websites, and they’ve always been fairly generic. So I was surprised when Andrew Bleakley shared that the “About Us” page is incredibly powerful at building trust and improving sales. I knew we needed to revamp ours for the redesign.

Instead of pretending to be a big company, our new “About  Us” page proudly proclaimed that we were a small business dedicated to fishermen. Instead of using a generic company signature, we posted our pictures and personal signatures on the page. Both myself and Pat (my right-hand man) are outdoorsman, so it was easy to craft a page that genuinely connects with our customers.

The Old “About Us” Page

AboutUsBefore

From the New “About Us” Page

AboutUsAfter

So What Happened?

The site relaunch went live in late January, so we’ve had a month to measure the results. The trolling motor niche is VERY seasonal, and search volumes and conversion rates can change drastically month to month in the early spring. So for the sake of accuracy, the figures below are year-over-year comparisons from February 2012 to 2013. (We are excluding the 28th, as that’s when we started testing some new pricing.) Here are the results:

Conversion Rate: Increased 48.0%
Avg. Order Value: Increased 32.3%

Avg. Time on Site: Increased 29.1%
Bounce Rate: Decreased by 10.7%

Not too shabby, eh? I’m thrilled with the conversion rate increasing nearly 50%, but equally as happy that the average order revenue is up by nearly a third! This indicates that our strategy of specializing in high-end trolling motors is working to drive sales of the more expensive items. And between the increase in conversion and order size, the relaunch close to doubled the amount of revenue earned per visitor.

I’m going to go out on a limb and call the site redesign a success!

Takeaways

So what crucial lessons should you take away from the relaunch?

Launch Quickly and Simply – Trying to build the world’s best website from the get-go is a terrible idea. You’ll end up investing boatloads of time (excuse the pun) into a site you’ll almost certainly have to re-do in the future to address the real needs of your customers.

Launch quickly and simply, and start interacting with customers as quickly as possible. Then, once you know more about the market, you can create a world-class website that you know will be applicable to your best customers.

You Don’t Need a Fancy Design – If you’re a smaller merchant in a niche market, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a super-fancy design. In fact, it could likely end up hampering your efforts to iterate and improve your site like it did for us! Especially when starting out, keep it simple. Usability and quality information is FAR more important than a flashy, custom design.

Niche Down Your Niche – The more precisely you can target your customers, the easier it is to create a powerful unique selling proposition. You don’t want to sell just trolling motors; you want to sell high-end bow mount trolling motors! It allows you to focus on your most valuable customers and create an information-rich site specifically for them.

Interested in More Posts Like This?

If you found this case study valuable, would you please Like it on Facebook (button below) or share it on Twitter right now? The level of social support I see helps me determine whether or not to write similar posts in the future.

I’m also happy to answer any questions you have about the relaunch – just leave them in the comments section below.

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Comments

  1. Neale says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I really like the way you have done the new store, I’m sure I will be referring back to this page often. Lots of luck to you…

  2. Andrew says:

    Andrew – great stuff – I love the redesign. I think such an important part of website design is to quickly tell people who you are, what you can help them with, and where they should go next. Simplicity is key. I also love the work you put into your Personas – or your BEST customer. You definitely took your niche to the next level.

    Question about the no sales tax – are you able to offer that in the state you are based in as well? If not is it just a slight decrease in your profit margin you are willing to take? Same question goes for shipping.

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    -another Andrew

    • Andrew says:

      Simplicity is key, something it’s taken me a while to learn. To your question: my business is incorporated in Montana, which charges no sales tax. Per U.S. laws, you only need to charge a customer sales tax if you have a business presence in the state they reside. So even if Montana did charge sales tax, I’d only need to charge tax to Montana customers. But because it has no sales tax, I don’t have to charge tax to anyone.

      In terms of shipping, that’s simply a cost we absorb. It will cost anywhere from $10 to $50 to ship a motor – usually on the higher end of that scale – but we do it to add an additional incentive for people to purchase.

  3. Carole says:

    Andrew, the new site looks great! I have a question about your customer service: when a customer calls, who answers the phone? I am setting up a retail website, and could use suggestions on how to handle calls.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Carole! Pat, my sales manager, usually mans the phones for TrollingMotors.net, although I will cover for him when need-be. We work in the same town together and he’s an official employee of the business – not a contractor.

      Managing the phones when you’re starting out can be really tricky. You’re often not big enough to justify hiring someone to answer the phones, but you want to offer quality support. In this case, I’d try to answer the phones yourself if possible, and if not simply put up an 800 number that goes to voicemail and tells customers you’ll call them back. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. :-)

  4. Dave Huckabay says:

    Wow what a great post! The timing is perfect too, as we are in the process of moving our store from Yahoo to Big Commerce. I am sending my designer over to look at this. Really, really well done.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Dave! This is the second big store re-launch / migration I’ve done, so if you have any questions as you’re moving stores just let me know – happy to help.

      • Dave Huckabay says:

        Well you just opened up a can of worms there bro. I’ll be in touch. We are moving 3 of our 4 largest sites, all in the next 3 months. It’s gonna be a party.

        • Andrew says:

          Wow, I don’t envy you! You’re going to have a ton of work as you well know. :-) But nothing is as satisfying as getting a new site on a fresh (and improved) new platform up and running. Should be exciting times!

  5. Walter says:

    I love the redesign Andrew! By changing the size and moving the “free shipping and no sales tax” info, you have put them where people are normally used to seeing the benefits of a product- in a word, brilliant!

  6. Ben Hebert says:

    Dude Andrew you are a f*cking rockstar man! Awesome post and incredible value.

    • Andrew says:

      Hey, thanks Ben – really appreciate it! :-)

      Any chance you’re making it to Berlin in April? If so, I’d be great to meet up with you.

      • Ben Hebert says:

        I don’t think I’m doing Berlin, but I am planning for Bangkok in the Fall. Beers on you though since you’re killing it!

        • Andrew says:

          Might not be making Bangkok, but hopefully we’ll meet up eventually. And beers on me? I can do that. But although as much fun as selling trolling motors is, I’m not sure if compares to traveling around the U.S to countless music festivals! That’s hard to beat. :-)

          • Ben Hebert says:

            Haha funny you say that, I’m actually leaving tomorrow for New Orleans where I’ll be attending The Buku Music & Arts Project. Nothing like rollin’ like a super VIP and being able to catch / photograph the likes of Calvin Harris, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar and more! Just turned 24 today though, so hopefully that will help me overcome my mid-twenties depression.

        • Andrew says:

          Nice man! Happy Birthday!

  7. David Horne says:

    Great redesign I really love the approach you took by primarily basing your choices off customer data. With all the A/B testing tools available people loose sight of what the purpose of redesign is for by playing with colors and placement when what you really should be doing is focusing your changes around your customers wants and getting them to the right information.

    You make a point about nicheing down and picking a very specific product area. I think your absolutely correct but for someone starting out in a new product area wouldn’t the tactic really be choose a small product area and collect as much customer & analytical data as possible to find your niche within a niche, applying good ol Tim Ferris’s advice on the 80/20 rule?

    Anyways great stuff really look forward to hearing more about it as you evolve this new site.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks David!

      In terms of starting out in a new niche, you’ll almost always NOT going to know what the best sub-segment of that niche may be – so you’ll likely need to offer a bit broader of a selection of products to start out with. Then, as you get to know your customers and the industry better you’ll learn who the most valuable customers are, what problems aren’t being solved well, and where you can add them most value. Then, you can niche down your site and sharpen your focus to help create an even higher-converting website. At least, that’s what I’ve done with all the sites I’ve launched. :-)

  8. Dana says:

    Great post with terrific information! Thanks for sharing the thought process on discontinuing some products and the logic on the gross margin. Many people believe that ecommerce sites have to carry everything available in a niche, but I agree more with your theory of carrying the number of products that make the buying decision easier for your customer and that provides you the margins you need. This also gives you the time to write more detailed pages because you have less products to manage – in this case, less is more.

    Do you think carrying less products with more detailed information on each product page will boost the SEO of the entire site?

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Dana!

      I think having a product focus can definitely be beneficial, and 100% agree with you on making sure you are able to write high-quality product pages. There’s definitely a good balance point between offering a good selection but also being able to specialize with expertise.

      In terms of boosting SEO, that’s a tricky question. I do know Google LOVES in-depth and unique product pages, and I think based on usability metrics (like time spent on page, click through rates, etc) that they can tell when people are engaging with your site. So if I had to pick, I’d rather have fewer top-notch pages than a bunch of mediocre ones – for sure.

      • David Horne says:

        I would also add that a more detailed product page with unique information thats highly useful to your customers will be more likely to attract inbound links and get shared socially. SEO is a funny beast and the real secret sauce to it is to get your on-page tactics right then make sure you content is as useful as possible to your users and it will pretty much take care of itself.

  9. Maria says:

    Love the redesign! Really clean, and so easy to navigate and make a purchase. Regarding all the information, installation instructions, etc. you have for each product, do you rely mostly on your supplier, or do you reach out directly to the manufacturer?

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Maria! In this case, we went directly to the manufacturer to get most of the technical information as they know their products inside-and-out and have the related documents as well.

  10. Shabbir says:

    Hi Andrew – Awesome post, as always!

    I am in the process of launching my new site, and I am taking a lot of inspiration from trollingmotors.net – I hope you don’t mind! :)

    Quick question: When you say get the site up running ASAP, to me, that also means using stock descriptions to start with and changing as you go along(I think you mention something similar in one of your blog posts/somewhere in the ebook). This wouldn’t hurt your site in Google’s eyes, would it, since there is duplicate content?

    Thanks and congratulations on the new site!

    • Andrew says:

      The stock descriptions probably won’t hurt your site, but you aren’t going to get any credit for original content – it’s true. So once you have a few months under your belt and know the niche better, I’d highly recommend re-writing the content and making it original. But getting a site online quickly that you can drive some short-term PPC traffic to to start engaging with your customers is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to get going.

      Good luck with your new site, Shabbir!

      • Eugene says:

        You have a lot of information on your site. Do you outsource copywriters to write the articles/guides/anything else or do you write it yourself? If outsourcing do you give them a topic for example instructions on how to do this or that, and they research/google the information and write about it on their own?

        • Andrew says:

          Nope, we write it all ourselves! I’ve found it’s difficult to outsource writing for a very specific niche unless the person doing it is an expert in the field. So we do it ourselves. It takes time, but I think it makes for a better end product.

  11. jeff says:

    Great job Andrew! Congrats on the % increase across the board and once again thank you for sharing this information with us. It is always so beneficial to read your postings and I wish you continued success.

    J

  12. Eugene says:

    I like the smooth design of the new site. Can you provide more information on using magento with a template? Do you need a hosting plan with them as well, or can you design in a WSIWYG fashion and upload to your own hosting site? We have some websites on a hosting plan already with netfirms, which is why I would rather find some way to design a site and upload it there to begin with, instead of paying $30 a month on shopify or one of those.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Andrew says:

      Unfortunately, Magento is about as complicated as it gets in terms of creating custom themes. It’s fairly involved, and requires getting in and editing HTML and XML layout files. While there is a WYSIWYG editor for content pages, there’s nothing like that for the template. To customize it, you really need to know what you’re doing – and the learning curve is fairly steep. :-( In retrospect, I probably would have gone with a different platform if I were starting from scratch, but because I had acquired the knowledge and some of our other stores are on Magento we stuck with the platform.

      In terms of hosting, we host with Rackspace as Magento is fairly resource hungry and needs a fair amount of resources.

  13. Heidi says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for the great information! Im currently in the process of teaching myself how to build business blogs for myself and others. On my gardening site Im using free plugins etc. from WordPress. My boyfriend has two successful e-commerce websites. So I am building his blog with a professional theme. He paid a professional web design company to build the backend of his e-commerce sites. He constantly is managing and updating the site. Now we are learning how much nicer it would be to have more control over the site. Our next e-commerce site we will have much more control over. We also use a POS system to handle our orders and keep track of inventory. I would like to see more integration between the websites and the POS system. Thanks again for your valuable insight! -Heidi PS our business sites are http://www.getaprop.com and http://www.ptpropeller.com

  14. avi says:

    HI very nice i have a question what eCommerce theme or site are you using for example like http://www.bigcommerce.com???

    thank you

  15. Sonny says:

    It’s awesome reading your results and seeing that a simple design is converting so much better for you. The new about page rocks.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Sonny! We had fun putting it together, and letting a bit more personality into the business.

  16. Sonny says:

    I have a question about why you are not using newsletter / email list sign up forms?

    Are you only interested in following up with buyers?

    Have you found the forms take away from sales conversions?

    • Andrew says:

      I’ve been really bad at utilizing email marketing for our stores – something I plan on fixing this year. The question of your timing is perfect, too. One of the next few posts will be an interview with an email marketing experts, as well as a very cool partnership to show readers the effects email can have on a store. Stay tuned!

  17. lenny says:

    great post as always. i tweeted and fb’d.
    thanks.

    just a couple of small questions, hope you can answer:

    1. are all motors from same manufacturer or several manufacturers?
    2. do you buy stock or use dropshipping?
    3. how do you set your prices in comparison to the competition? cheaper, similar or more expensive?
    4. i see you rank very high on G. do you seo? how?
    5. do you do anything else for traffic except for seo?

    in one of your recent posts you said you’ll prepare a post on getting traffic when launching a NEW shop.
    i can’t wait …
    (:

    thank you very much. inspiring.

    lenny

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for sharing it, Lenny! To answer your questions:

      1) The motors are primarily from two main manufacturers.

      2) We drop ship all of the motors – no stocking for now.

      3) We’re currently testing that. With the new website, we’re testing higher prices in March to see what the effect on profitability is. Given that the new website is more focused and contains much more information, we’re hoping to we can charge a premium. So we’ll see what sticks after this month!

      4) We’ve done SEO through hiring an outside company (not recommended – details to come in a future post) and by doing guest posts / pitching articles to other individual sites. I’ve found this is one of the best ways to rank well.

      5) Currently, no. But we’ll be experimenting with some PPC ads in the next few weeks.

      Hope this helps!

  18. Ben says:

    One of the best ecommerce posts I’ve ever seen. Thanks!

  19. owen says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, your enthusiasm and the content. It was a great post and all internet marketers should benefit from your explanation. The website is definitely sexy

  20. Kris says:

    Congrats Andrew!! I love reading stories like this.

    Conversion Rate: Increased 48.0%
    Avg. Order Value: Increased 32.3%

    That’s really interesting that it went UP yet you stopped focusing on the cheap products. I would’ve thought the opposite would’ve happened. Impressive! Very happy for you man, congrats!!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Kris! I think highlighting the fact we focus just on the higher-end bow mount motors helped increased the order size, as well as conversion. Hope things are going well for you, and for your business!

  21. Christina says:

    Hey Andrew,

    I downloaded your ebook two weeks ago and have been stalking researching your trolling site since. I knew it looked clean and I’ve been taking notes on how to update my niche. I had no idea you had just updated it.
    This post is great information for how to really add value to a products page. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.
    Christina

    • Andrew says:

      Ha! Don’t worry – I do my fair share of stalking online in terms of research / business intelligence as well! Glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope business is going well at EasyeBikeKits.com.

  22. John Clark says:

    It’s such a relief to see someone else advocating that a fancy design doesn’t matter. As they say in commercial real estate “ugly buildings make money too” — the current (yet fading) hype is around the Pinterest infinite scroll feature. Etsy a large e-commerce site decided to try it and it dramatically reduced conversion rates because people would just BS around instead of looking at product details. They spent a few weeks implementing that I believe too. Just goes to show you that fancy/fresh new things won’t generate revenue, it’s most likely a waste of time. Hit up themeforest.net and focus on sales!

    • Andrew says:

      “Hit up Themeforest.net and focus on sales” – I love it! Marketing will be a better use of time than fancy design 99% of the time, and I think using a (nice) stock template is one of the smartest things you can do when you’re starting out.

      Thanks for the comment, John!

  23. Great info. I admit it’s hard to believe the simple website you have now converts more than the big fish website. I love all the other improvements you made. They all make sense functionally and are better looking visually. But the landing page is hard for me to swallow.

    • Andrew says:

      Really surprising, isn’t it? I would have never thought so either. That being said, there is definitely room for improvement on the homepage as it’s something I put together with my VERY ghetto HTML and CSS skills. So I may do some testing on having something in the middle – not super complex but a bit more professional – in the future.

  24. Dave Huss says:

    Awesome post Andrew you really pulled back the kimono on this one. Its been my experience also that functional designs usually outperform super flashy designs.

    Now that your conversion rates and average order values have increased substantially, I’m curious why you aren’t doing paid traffic?

    Based on my quick napkin math with these assumptions:
    Lets estimate your conversion rate is 1%
    Let’s estimate your average order value is on the low end of the range you provided – $800
    Let’s estimate your margins are 25%

    Your expected profit per visitor is 800 * 0.25 * 0.01 = $2.00 profit per visitor

    I took a look at Google Adwords and the cost per clicks for [trolling motor] and [bow mount trolling motor] related keywords are anywhere from $0.50 to $1.00 cost per click.

    That means you have the “Green Light” to use Adwords and expect to make a nice positive ROI. In your case I think it’s a slam dunk.

    I outline this 2-Minute Adwords “Traffic Light Test” for Profitability in more detail in my post:
    http://ecommercedouble.com/simple-2-minute-test-to-determine-if-adwords-will-be-profitable-for-you/

    • Andrew says:

      Great info, Dave! I love your green light test for AdWords – very helpful. I’ve actually been looking into running some PPC ads on some of the higher end products, and your “ballpark” process is a great way to gauge the potential. Also, great article – I’ll be sharing it on Twitter here shortly.

      Hope you’re doing well!

  25. Sven says:

    Congrats here too! When i saw your example in your awesome guide I checked out the site for sure. From my own websites I can tell that the “About us” page gets loads of clicks and I loved what I saw there. Made me kind of feel ashame for even thinking about personas (as you might guess from my first name I am a male, but IMHO [call me nasty] a female persona or not existing staff member might attract a female target group).

    Have you thought about splittesting? You already did a great job, but there is always some work to do ;-) The more you get involved with your sites (you should know what I’m writing about) the less objective you are…

    Best from China
    Sven

    • Andrew says:

      I have done some limited split testing, but definitely need to do more. When it’s done strategically, it can be really powerful and I need to optimize my existing site more, for sure. And I know exactly what you mean about being less objective the more you get involved. :-)

  26. Karen says:

    I haven’t read a post I had wanted to finish for awhile. This is one of those posts. Awesome tips here about site simplicity where we see so many product sites just peppered with junk I can’t even see the products. I’m from New Zealand and we fish a whole lot over here! I just signed up for your post’s. This was insightful and loved how you took big effort in detailing the steps with your before and after images. Great stuff.

  27. Jenny says:

    Andrew,

    I love reading your posts; they are so informative and inspiring! I just started reading your e-book and am learning so much! Regarding your trolling motor business, do you drop ship with it a manufacturer, or buy it from a manufacture and resell it?

    Jenny

  28. Jeff says:

    Thanks for this one, really informative!

    I am wondering if you create Nexus when your dropshipper and customers are both in the same state? Because then you will need to charge taxes to that customer right?

    I am just about to start my own dropshipping business as well, any thoughts/suggestions on this would be appreciated, thank!

    • Andrew says:

      Create a “nexus”? Not sure about that, but I don’t believe you have to charge tax if you ship from a drop shipper in the same state as your customer. Because you are incorporated in a different state and simply using the drop shipper as a “fulfillment” company, you don’t have to collect tax. This is how I operate, but I’d encourage you to check with a tax professional as I’m not one for a definitive answer.

      Hope this helps!

  29. Scott says:

    Andrew,

    I so much appreciate that you have shared your story and expertise. It has moved me to action TODAY!! I am the owner of LocaTeamShop.com and i (like you) have an expert business partner, but he happens to be the webmaster of our business.

    I’ve always known moving our customer base to ecommerce was essential. It was my fear and ingnorance (ok and lazyness) that kept me from acting.

    After reading your material (that was easy to read & enjoyable) I have no doubt that we are denying our customers great products, but more important the success of our company!

    That will change TODAY!!!

    • Andrew says:

      Awesome, Scott! Glad I was able to provide some motivation. :-) Best of luck with the transition online…

  30. Nice results. We always knew that good design inspires trust, make easier for products to be find, etc, and thus increases conversion, but a 48% increase… Now that is really amazing.

  31. Ching says:

    Hi Andrew!

    I am so glad to come across your website today & have subscribed to your website!
    Actually, I have many questions on building an e-commerce website. Though I am still a student, I feel very empowered to start my own business. It would be of in the area of fashion. I have not signed up for any website package as I am more cautious before throwing my savings into the unknown pool.
    I will read your ebook before asking any further questions (:

    Thank you!

    • Andrew says:

      Ha! “Throwing my savings into the unknown pool” – love it! :-)

      Hope you enjoy the eBook Ching and best of luck….

  32. Elle says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Just want to thank you for the information you shared on eCommercefuel, especially this post! I didn’t have enough budget to hire a web designer, and I have no coding knowledge. What I have is a strong will to learn. I used free template from Bigcommerce and tried to work around my store (using your tips) to make it look nice and presentable. Your website, Google, and YouTube video tutorials are my best friends.

    After reading this post, I decided to give my store a new look and I made some sales! I could see that people stay longer in my store and my bounce rate decreased!

    I can’t thank you enough and PLS KEEP WRITING! I will be reading every post as they are so helpful for newbie like myself.

    Thanks!!

    Elle

    • Andrew says:

      Elle – The store looks great! Well done, especially doing it yourself. :-) You’re in a very interesting niche, and being a new father I can attest firsthand to how people get soft in their wallet when it comes to their children.

      Best of luck with your store and thanks for reading.

  33. Joey Staton says:

    Andrew,

    I’m Jumpy Joey, and I subscribe to your emails. I appreciate how informative that they truly are. You don’t come off as trying to sale something either, which I can really appreciate. My niche is trampolines (sales and assembly), and I’m soon to launch a new ecommerce site in place of my current one. Many dollars have been spent behind the scenes to develop a site like no other in my industry, and we’re at about 95% getting ready to launch. I will check back with you often to read the current topics you discuss! Thank you so much for the assistance!

    • Andrew says:

      Hey Joey! Sounds like an interesting niche – nice! Best of luck with your new site design, I hope it goes well and your sales go through the roof. :-)

  34. Jason Davis says:

    Hello, I read your ebook, it is very good, thanks for sharing. My main issue has always been finding a reliable supplier, it seems all the “Drop shipping” wholesalers are from China that I find, so I wanted to ask…Have you used any Suppliers from China? Or should I keep searching for one in the US? I am a software and web developer for 13 years. So building an advanced site and doing all the SEO and Marketing…is just stuff I do daily anyways, this issue of not finding a good Supplier has been holding me back for years so I would really love to hear from someone who has experience in this space and that seems to be you, if you are willing to share some more insight, would appreciate your thoughts on this? Thanks

    • Andrew says:

      I’ve never used a drop shipping in China, no. I can’t imagine that would work well as shipping individual products from China to individual customers in the U.S. would be prohibitively expensive. There are lots of suppliers and drop shippers in the U.S. (some good, some not so good), so you shouldn’t let that one issue prevent you from starting your own business. For more details on finding suppliers, check out my eBook which has an entire chapter dedicated to finding and evaluating suppliers:

      http://www.ecommercefuel.com/profitable-ecommerce-ebook/

  35. Paul Lemley says:

    This post is EXTREMELY helpful! I recently chose to redesign my site and go with a bare bones, streamlined design. In the middle of the process now, but should have it up and running by July. Every once and a while I need a good reminder to niche down and keep the site relevant for the higher end customer instead of expanding into other demographics.

    Just found your website and this is the first post I read too! Looking forward to reading more.

  36. Hany Mesbah says:

    Hi,

    I receive your newsletter regularly and I love them. The problem is that I have many distinct categories on my website (like amazon), while you write about about “niche” ecommerce. Currently I struggle to find a marketing service (or app) so I can focus on business development. I would really appreciate if you create a newsletter about that.

  37. Hi Andrew, Thanks for sharing this behind-the-scenes look at your website redesign. In my experience, the simpler the design the better ex.: look at Google’s design, super simple.
    Really got a lot out of this post and your podcast with Shane. Talk soon, Frank

  38. EricD says:

    Hi Andren

    Great Redesign!!

    Looks Clean Nice Job!!

  39. Skip Foster says:

    Wow… nice difference. I liked the old one, but I really like the changes. Very encouraging stats too.

  40. Harold Stewart says:

    Hey. Great Great great insights from this post.

    By far this is the best ecommerce blog I’ve come across. Read this post a couple months ago when it was first written but had to re-read it today as I am starting my first ecommerce store and needed useful info on website layout. At first I was so into creating an expensive and complicated website but, thanks to this post I will be keeping it SIMPLE AND TO THE POINT!!!

    I have a question for you however. I am in a niche where I knwo nothing about the product (its a technical product used by hobbyist). Ive managed to find a few great dropshippers and the website is in the making. For this, niche how do I handle phone calls from customers who require technical assistance/ info that only an experienced person in the field can answer. I have no problems answering sales calls but what happens when they start asking for the expert info??? Is this the type of thing that is outsourced?

    Thanks in advance !!!

  41. Brian says:

    Andrew, am I mistaken here? I looked at semrush results for trollingmotors.net. It appears your visits dropped 80%+ from Feb May 2013. That’s a huge plummet. What happened? I’m really confused. Please explain. I see the great improvements but are the results there? Did you sell it to someone or some other reason?

    • Andrew says:

      Not sure, but that data is definitely off. If you’re talking about 2012 data, that would make sense as that’s the period we got hit by the Penguin penalty.

  42. Taylor says:

    There’s a few awesome things you did with this Andrew that I’m finally starting to realize.

    1. Using Design to Showcase Benefits and Features your customers value NOT just to look good – I felt the same way I imagine you did when I saw that first design with the big bass picture on it, it looks awesome!

    But from the point of view of someone looking for a trolling motor, it doesn’t offer any value to them. They’re looking for a trolling motor and show the most valuable thing you can do is to make that easy for them, which you’ve obviously done a much better job of with the new organization and educational content.

    2. Being honest and helpful in the copy

    The headline on the $5k design – “Catch more Fish with the Right Trolling Motor” is also hyperbolic and not true (something I catch myself doing ALL the time when writing copy and something I know because despite having fished on a lot of boats with nice trolling motors, I’m still not a very good fisherman…).

    I think a lot of times, the passion entrepreneurs feel about their businesses gets the best of them and they start making claims that aren’t verifiable. It’s like you REALLY want them to actually catch more fish by using one of your trolling motors even though that’s not really true.

    The best thing you can do for them of course is educate them about your products and let them make an informed decision.

    3. The About Us Page

    We ran on our two main sites a month ago and realized that WAY more people were actually looking at this page than we thought. Both of ours were I imagine similar to your original one, corporate gobbledy-gook that didn’t do a very good job of telling people about us. The new versions came out a bit more corporate than I would have liked, but are definitely a big improvement.

  43. ola says:

    I like the clear new design with lots of white space and less options and distractions on the page. Good job and should encourage others to re-think their priorities i.e. design vs functionality and UI. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Johan Schwemmer says:

    Hi Andrew

    I find your post very helpfull. I also stumbled across dropshipping by accident when I was trying to earn more money online. I decided right there and then that I want to this. I am just starting off on this and I am busy getting my website together and this afternoon before reading this I spoke to the guy designing my site about the same more personal approach to the customer by showing them who I am and what I am about…seems like I am heading in the right direction. I have also given the new site a lot of though and realised that providing a more value added approach to the customer will go a long way. Thanks for your post, I find it helpful.

    Regards
    Johan.

  45. Jurgy says:

    Andrew,
    I am not an expert in any of the niches I work in with my drop shipping biz. I find it difficult to write an About Us page that is personal and honestly puts me in congruence with my target demographic. What do you suggest?

    Jurgy

  46. Bryan says:

    Thanks for sharing your results. I also have a sexy and hip website that isn’t doing so well. Thinking of down grading to a very basic site, similar to what you did.

    The images on what you did also were a great help.

    Thanks
    Bryan

  47. Laksh says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Really really useful article

    We have just launch our store bulkeffect.com for corporate gifts/ merchandising and reading through the article gave me really good ideas on how we can do something better.

    One of the biggest tradeoff we had to make was between fancy design and load speed. We choose to keep the design really simple to load faster. Before reading this article i ised to constantly ask myself if that was tue right thing to do. Thanks once again for such a great article.

  48. Hi there, its nice post about media print, we all understand media is a great source of facts.

Trackbacks

  1. […] EcommerceFuel.com – How we increased conversion 48% on our online store: A Relaunch Case Study […]

  2. […] running online stores at eCommerceFuel.com. If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll love this rare behind-the-scenes look at his store’s redesign  that increased sales by nearly […]

  3. […] this experiment by Andrew Youderian, where he made a few simple copywriting improvements and increased conversion […]

  4. […] speak to their niche will do better in the market than stores utilizing a generic template. One recent study from a Magento merchant showed an improvement of 48% in conversion rate and a 32% increase in […]

  5. […] can lead to improved conversions for online stores.  One awesome example, from eCommerceFuel (http://www.ecommercefuel.com/inside-relaunch-online-store/) details how a trolling motor (those small fishing boat motors) site increased conversions by over […]

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