Anyone who has the honor of either running or working at a startup knows very well the “we should do that” list. The “we should do that” list typically consist of great ideas that *usually* go into the black hole of your MUST GET DONE list. Periodically you visit this list and wonder why it never got done. “It’s such a great idea.”
Well, on June 18, 2012 we were able to cross one of those items off of our “we should do that” list. We finally launched a shared shopping cart, combining our ties and scarves sites. To preface, we don’t use anything off the shelf for our development process. Everything we develop here at Ties.com and Scarves.com is done in-house. Our Dev Team is amazing! Kudos to those guys working their fingers off.
The shared shopping cart allows for a seamless and more intuitive checkout experience when browsing across our two sites. The idea is if you’re on Ties.com updating your neck wear and want to pick up something for your wife or girlfriend, you could do this without making two transactions. The benefits to our customers are plenty and pretty straightforward.
Why was this important from a business perspective for us? For starters, this offers a better customer experience. We wanted our shoppers to have a more convenient and intuitive shopping experience. So while we were at it, we also employed a wide variety of best-practices elements for our shopping cart and checkout – I’ll do a blog post later about these features.
Second, we saved on CC processing fees. Running through our financials it made sense for us to devote development resources into making this idea a reality. Basing such decisions from a financial perspective is always important for us. After all, when you are a startup, there are many projects you have to consider. So high-yield projects ought to get more attention and higher priority. Because we are a *revenue* based company (GRrev – overheard = profit = reinvestment back into our employees/products/projects/tools/fun stuff) we run a tight ship.
Third, we anticipated AOV’s to increase. While this was an assumption when I had analyzed data from Quidsi (Diapers.com/Soap.com/Wag.com/Casa.com/Yoyo.com). We still did not know exactly how our customers were going to behave. We ran a surveys on each of our respective sites. We served 50% of our visitors and asked three questions. 1) Have you heard of Ties.com/Scarves.com)? 2) Are the products on Ties.com/Scarves.com of interest to you? And 3) would you like to shop both sites using your current shopping cart? This data gave us confidence to move forward to prove our predictions. Using our findings we ran algorithms to anticipate increased AOV’s.
Four, innovation. We have and always will consider ourselves a tech company with a fashion sense that uses an eCommerce platform. Part of our motto, besides #Yolo and #swag is to “provide products and services through avant-garde means.” I’m sorry Quidsi (or now Amazon) but we were first to have thought of the shared shopping cart. You may have deployed it first – it’s easy when you have an entire dev team in China but we have meeting notes that denotes we were first ;).
Five, cross promotions. We’ve always anticipated that our shoppers would like to know about our other properties given our customer-centric attitude and great products. Again, we had no real substantial data to justify such a broad statement. However, running our mini survey we soon realized that our visitors were in fact interested in both scarves and ties. Cross promoting for me, was more than just monetization. It was branding, it was exposing each respective property a little bit more and it allowed for long-term engagement – even if nothing was purchased from the sister property.
Six, reaching milestones. When you’re always on a budget and phasing competition from the big boys with seemingly insurmountable resources, setting strategic and accomplishing milestones becomes vital and absolutely crucial part of your existence. Note, I said “strategic” milestones aka smart milestones. Every milestone you wish to reach has to accomplish something of value for you and your company. It has to. Again, you have limited resources. You can’t afford to go down the wrong rabbit hole. What may be great for your competitor may not be the right strategy for you. So far we have noticed 48% to 50% increase in referral traffic from Ties.com and Scarves.com respectively.
Seven, accomplishing things. Just like number five, it is important, especially when you’re a startup, that periodically things get marked off of your Long Term Projects List. Naturally, these achievements bring on a shared sense of pride and triumph.
Results? We’ve now been running the shared shopping cart for a little over 8 months and have seen some data trickle. While I can’t share specific numbers, our AOV has increased by 9%, along with other unanticipated variables such as time spent on site, social media engagement, and interesting cross-site visitor patterns. I must admit it’s too early to throw our hats into the wind but we’re still thrilled with the results. My goal is to do another post at the one-year mark and share some real tangible data with everyone.