Unilever brand Lipton Tea is using ContentSquare’s A/B testing services for its French e-commerce site that sells tea machines.

Lipton Tea is raising a mug to A/B testing.

Lipton Tea, a brand of consumer packaged goods manufacturer Unilever, launched its first direct-to-consumer website in September 2015 in France. The website, www.to-lipton.com, sells Lipton’s single-pour tea machine and the corresponding tea pods and accessories.

Before launching the site, Unilever knew it wanted to have continuous A/B testing so it could make data-driven decisions, says Geoffroy Franqueville, Unilever’s e-commerce director and chief digital officer. This is one of the first brands Unilever has sold direct to consumers online, and Lipton is charged with establishing a model, vendor partnerships, and ironing out logistics, before the CPG giant will launch another brand for direct-to-consumer online sales, Franqueville says.

Unilever chose to first launch the site in France because it is a large tea market and also considered a premium market with sophisticated tastes and attention to high quality products, Franqueville says. A rollout is planned later for other European countries and perhaps the U.S, he says.

Unilever decided to hire consumer behavior measuring firm ContentSquare to run its A/B testing.  With A/B testing, the retailer shows users two versions of the same page and the vendor collects statistics on how well each version converts. The vendor will then recommend an action for the retailer.

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ContentSquare also will weigh the site’s content elements—such as images, products reviews and privacy polices—on how each element influences conversion, says the vendor’s CEO Jonathan Cherki. For example, if only 10% of consumers are looking at the footer at the bottom a retailer’s page, but the majority of those consumers make a purchase after reading that text, the footer has a high impact on conversion rate, Cherki says. Therefore, ContentSquare will recommend the retailer make the footer more attractive in order to boost conversion, Cherki says.

Lipton has made dozens of tweaks to its page because of ContentSquare’s recommendations, including button placement and color. Those adjustments helped boost to-lipton.com’s add-to-basket ratio by 60% in the nine months following the web site’s launch, Franqueville says.

“It’s continuous improvement, which is why it is great,” Franqueville says.

Two changes made the biggest impact on the add-to-basket rate: the image on the product detail page and moving the free returns and free shipping icons higher, Franqueville says. Having shipping information and the free returns icon easily visible to consumers helps reassure consumers and leads to more conversions, he says.

To-lipton.com’s conversion rate is between 3-4% and most sales are made on desktop, Franqueville says. Consumers add products to their basket on mobile devices but most often finish the purchase on desktops, he says. He cites the tea machine’s cost, at $179, and the fact that kitchen appliances, even small ones, are often a joint decision between spouses, as the reason. Still, Lipton is looking to improve its mobile experience, as 80% of visitors first view the website on a smartphone, he says.

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Franqueville declined to provide sales data, but says to-lipton.com has 40% of the offline and online tea machine market in France.

ContentSquare measures consumer behavior by tracking the user’s mouse movements on a desktop page, and scrolling, zooming and tilting of the device on the mobile web, Cherki say.

Next year, Lipton will launch an online store in Germany. A/B testing will be critical during this launch as German consumers likely have different preferences than French consumers, Franqueville says.

ContentSquare has 150 clients and 40-50% are retailers, including L’Occitane, L’Oreal S.A. and Louis Vuitton, Cherki says. On average across all of its clients, ContentSquare increases conversion rates 10% to 30%, he says. The vendor charges a monthly fee for its service depending on the volume of page views its clients receives, ranging from $12,000 per year to $1 million annually, Cherki says.

The vendor recently raised $20 million in funding, in addition to 400,000 euros it raised in 2012 when ContentSquare launched, Cherki says.

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