A streamlined home page and other changes set the stage for improved results, including a 9% increase in sales in a more prominently promoted category.

The use of the site search function at online wine merchant Winechateau.com is up by 18% since it relocated and increased the size of the search box to make it more prominent as part of a recent site redesign, reports Saurabh Abrol, chief executive officer. Other changes, such as dropping less popular links, boosting the prominence of selected categories on the home page, and speeding up page downloads, also improved results, Abrol tells Internet Retailer.

We wanted to really optimize our web site’s real estate space to make sure we are maximizing our cost per sale, Abrol says of the redesign.

For example, a single small button on the home page identifying spirits as a product category produced relatively low sales, leading Winechateau to conclude that shoppers weren’t aware the wine-focused site also sold spirits. After the redesign added the spirits category to the drop-down menu on the left-side navigation on the home page, spirits sales rose 9%, Abrol says.

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Winechateau made space to more prominently display key home page features by eliminating little-used links on the right side of the page, such as best-selling reds and “best-selling whites. This also allowed it to increase banner size, giving the site a cleaner look. Though there is evidence yet that the bigger banners have increased sales, Abrol says, “We feel that in the long run it will create a positive increase by promoting items on sale.

In addition to the re-design on the customer-facing web site, new servers and new coding on the back end increased page download speed. From an initial one server, Winechateau spread its site over four servers to speed up page loads. It also programmed servers to start indexing main pages of the site, rather than dynamically generating each page. That also led to quicker page loads.

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