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Counting time: Understanding ecommerce ROI

Mar 29, 2018ECOMMERCE


In the age of digital transformation, ecommerce teams have become one of the most vital commodities for businesses, especially for companies struggling with loss-making traditional channels to market.

And, yet how many organisations are actively empowering these teams to maximise their corporate value? Facing the escalating cost of talented ecommerce experts, there is a pressing need to unlock the potential of existing teams.

Right now, far too many ecommerce teams are operating blind, using gut-feel and best practice to prioritise activity. They are wasting vast amounts of time on unproductive content changes and irrelevant optimisation tests; time which no business can afford to squander.

Yet new UX analytics tools and AI prediction engines can transform the speed the insight, empowering teams to prioritise activity and rapidly respond to customer behaviour.

It is critical to empower this vital ecommerce resource with the tools to accelerate their speed to insight, maximise their skills and deliver measurable ROI.

Customer priority

Nearly every business has a ‘customer first’ strategy, but few have fast, accurate access to the customer understanding they need to deliver it. How many changes to the home page or tweaks to the checkout journey are truly data-driven?

Why invest in fantastic teams of content producers who are inspired by the brand and committed to success, when no one is able to understand how the content performs or its business impact?

Too often, ecommerce teams are flying in the dark, making content changes and optimisation decisions based on gut-feel or creative inspiration. Often they aren’t responding to the customers’ behaviour and expectation based on actual insight or prioritising optimisation tests based on actual customer problems.

Actual insight

A company only has to look at the new players in banking, in retail, in gaming, the companies that design the business around the customer and empower teams with data, to see the difference in customer experience – and, as a result, in financial success.

From Airbnb to Uber, these new companies provide their teams with the speed to insight required to deliver an optimal customer experience, every time. They have the ability to understand how customers – millions of customers – respond to specific content, to journey changes or new branding – and respond accordingly. They are not wasting days, weeks, months on creating content that will fail to resonate, or embarking expensively upon hundreds of tests in an unfocused bid to optimise the customer journey. They are quickly leveraging actual insight to make changes that work.

It is this speed to insight that is the primary differentiator between ecommerce success and failure. Most companies have great ecommerce teams committed to the brand; what far too many still lack is any way to quickly understand the evolution of customer expectation, how that affects behaviour and what that means for the online experience. Relying on IT and data scientists to provide insight is too slow and lacks context.

The result is wasted resources and ill-focused ecommerce activity.

Strategic and tactical insight

There is no need to wait for insight when UX analytics tools can deliver at the touch of a button information on how customers are responding to specific content; when AI tools can be used to prioritise activity and enable the ecommerce team to focus on the biggest wins. Whether it is undertaking more optimisation tests, concentrating on those tests that will make a tangible difference, or tracking customer response to the new hero banner, with speed to insight every member of the team can be more effective and hence have positive impact on customer experience and conversion.

This speed to insight should also feed into strategic thinking – boards are also constrained by the lack of relevant ecommerce ROI insight and too many are still reliant upon the big consultancies to inform strategy.

But, why would any company looking to change the way it operates rely on a small generic market study when it has access to deep information about its own customer behaviour?

Providing a board with fast insight into not only revenue per channel but the ROI on specific activity – from new mobile checkout journeys to updated online branding – is transformative. A board able to understand exactly how much revenue is generated by each element of the ecommerce site, how content changes and optimisation can be used to improve performance and revenue, is far better informed to make the essential strategic decisions than one relying on generic market trends.


When the heartbeat of the business is weak, the entire business is in jeopardy.

Delivering speed to insight is not just about making essential, fact based decisions today – it is about empowering and retaining the talent to deliver long term value. When ecommerce experts have the pick of jobs, they are going to work with the brand that offers the best chance to shine, the brand that actively explores data to empower its people to outperform the competition, not the one that relies on guess work and month old ‘insights’ squeezed out of the data scientist and IT team.

A content merchandiser wants the chance to see in real time how the home page is performing – and respond accordingly. In a market increasingly demanding accountability and ROI, experts need every possible chance to optimise their performance, to maximise their expertise and experience – and deliver for the business.

The only way to deliver a truly customer first business model is to empower talented people – and that requires fast access to great insight.

By Duncan Keene

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