Key to success — Continuous experimentation to grow your online business

It doesn’t matter how well your store is built or how good it looks. There is always something you can improve.
The key to success is continuous experimentation to find out what works and what doesn’t in a fast changing environment.

  • How can you attract more customers?
  • Do you have products they want to buy?
  • Can you offer prices your customers are willing to pay?
  • How can you maximise profits?
  • Can you provide the service customers expect so they will become repeat buyers?

The most important part of your experimentation is to gather intelligence. The information you can gather during this step will help you make the right decisions to improve your business and website.


Gathering intelligence
Gathering intelligence is actually quite simple. It's really all about listening to and observing your customers.
Watch what your customers do on your website with help of analytical tools such as Google analytics. Talk to them on the phone and ask them what they like or dislike about your store and your services.  Ask them how they found you and why they decided to buy from you or why not. Inquire which products or services they were looking for but could not find in your offerings.
You can also send out questionnaires or chat with your customers while they are in your store by integrating a chat system such as Zopim.
If you don't have any customers, ask some people who are similar to how you see your ideal customers. Try not to use friends, as they will often hold back with criticism to prevent hurting you or don't really match your ideal customer and therefore often provide irrelevant feedback.


Converting intelligence
Once you have collected your intelligence it's time to make decisions.
This is really all about adjusting your offerings to improve the quality of your feedback over time. Or, if required, even to dramatically change your direction.
After all, if no one likes what you are doing, then may be you are betting on the wrong horse or you are going after the wrong customers.
Based on the feedback you have to decide if you want to improve your website, services, product sortiment or something else.
Or if you have to make big changes or small changes.


Running experiments with ShopFactory
One of the advantages of ShopFactory is, that it runs on your own computer.
This means you can quickly make and review changes, without affecting your online store.
If you want to make dramatic changes such as changing the complete website theme, you you can always use the "Save As" function in the file menu and Save your store as a new project.
As a result you can do anything you want, as your original project will remain unchanged!
Do a preview, and when you like what you see you can upload the new project and continue to work in it.
And if you find that your changes don't work as well as you had hoped, you can switch back to the previous theme, which is still stored on your computer.
Smaller experiments such as changing headlines, navigation, product display etc can be easily achieved as part of your website maintenance and published to see how they work out.


It's not all about your store
Of course the store is only a part of the experience customers have when they buy from you.
Other points to consider are how fast you respond to questions, how quickly you send out your products, how you deal with after sales issues and how your customers feel about this side of the buying experience.
Sometimes the right solution can be to switch to a different shipping provider, payment system provider or simply adding more or other options and choices.