This post is a continuation and final episode (read Part 1 here and Part 2 here) of the eCommerce Case Study interview from April 21, 2015 between PML co-founders Bechara Jaoudeh and Skip Shuda. Bechara is sharing his experience as Account Executive on Bush Refrigeration, one of PML’ s earliest eCommerce clients. In this segment, Bechara and Skip discuss the initial results realized from an eCommerce project.
Skip: What kind of results did you see? Was there an immediate effect or did it take a while for things in the digital footprint for Bush Refrigeration to shift over to accepting the new eCommerce presence? What have you seen over the last year?
Bechara: We reflect on that in almost every single monthly meeting we have with the Bush team. What we experienced—while it was anticipated – was shocking. We experienced a huge drop in the number of leads. But the sales stayed very level— they fluctuated maybe plus or minus 1% for the first couple months.
It feels like a huge problem when the phone stops ringing and leads stop coming in the traditional way. We had to sit down with the client and really reevaluate what we called a lead.
Think of it this way—the old website was a brochure site that had generalized content on it. For example: if you were shopping for a 2 door ice cream cooler to put in your ice cream store, you would find and visit the Bush Refrigeration site. The site was ranking high because of some of the work we’ve done over the years, especially paid search. You’d visit the site and you’d see an example of an ice cream cooler that had various attributes that weren’t specific to one product, and no price was shown. As a result, you would pick up the phone and call. You asked your questions to understand what was being offered. How wide is it? How high is it? Would it fit? What temperature does it hold? What brand is it? What’s the warranty? Where is it manufactured? Does it use LED lighting or incandescent lighting? Anytime you wanted to answer one of these questions you had to call. And that was counted as a lead!
With the new eCommerce website, it was so feature-rich; every attribute was in there. You no longer needed to make that call for all of those product questions. You could answer these questions by yourself just by reviewing the product page. In sales terms, that’s a phone call that the Bush sales team used to consider a lead – and now that lead was no longer visible.
Every product now has a Q and A section at the bottom where you can ask a question and receive an answer. That answer will be posted on the website and emailed to you. As a result, we stopped receiving some of these inquiries that used to be considered leads. And now people were self-serving in a sense. But the sales, on the flip side of that, were not negatively impacted. So we knew the website was performing at least as well as the previous site, even though there were fewer calls, emails, and forms submitted.
Shipping was another area where people have a lot of questions. Many people want to know what the shipping cost was. Now the website has a shipping calculator built-in so, again, visitors can self-serve, which decreased the number of direct questions to the sales team.
Skip: I imagine that was pretty disorienting to the sales team when all of a sudden they were expecting a certain number of leads that validated their role as salesmen and now those calls were dropping off rapidly. How did this impact the metrics around the sales team?
Bechara: Yes – this is an important point. The closing ratio metric is used as a performance metric for salesmen. Closing ratio is calculated as the (number of sales) divided by (number of leads). Given that most questions were being answered on the product pages, the leads that did come through were much further down the sales funnel and closed at a much higher rate. Most salesmen experienced an 80%+ increase in their closing ratios.
This has really helped the sales team by giving them more bandwidth. The salesmen now are less busy with answering less relevant questions. The calls that they are getting are far more qualified. And they’re closing deals, leading to a higher closing ratio and more sales.
Skip: Anything else you’d want to share before we wrap up?
Bechara: For any eCommerce or online project you want to keep an eye on the shifting ecosystem. Throughout the time we were launching, Google had released several algorithm updates that we had to adapt to. Staying nimble and employing the PML practice of dynamic steering helped us do that.
Once you kick off the project you don’t want to put the blinders on and just plow ahead. You must keep evaluating the landscape and observe how it’s shifting so you can continuously adapt the project scope to stay relevant. Otherwise your new eCommerce site will be outdated the day you launch it. Keeping your eyes open and staying current on the changing ecosystem will help you realize eCommerce success.
Skip: Like so many things in this space it’s never finished. It’s an ongoing journey, not a destination. Thanks Bechara—that was really helpful.
If you’d like to talk to PML about your eCommerce project, please contact us today!