Businesses Need to Adapt Quickly to Changing eCommerce Landscape: Garret Cunningham

Garret Cunningham

As an agency, we deal with different clients in the eCommerce field, from fashion and footwear to home interiors and outdoors. We are in the thick of eCommerce trends, so to speak, because while we are actively involved in optimisation for our clients, we are also passive observers.

Just to give you context, in the past 18 months, we’ve worked on over 1,200 experiments for our clients. This includes clients in fashion, food and beverages, home furnishing, home appliances, automotive, sporting goods and accessories, and even travel.

In this tenth post of our CRO Insights series, our COO Garret Cunningham writes about the trends, challenges, and lessons we’ve learnt during this period in eCommerce customer experience optimisation.


What new trends have you observed in the past 18 months in optimisation?

The biggest trend right now is how businesses cope with stock and delivery issues.

There are two sides to what is happening right now. On the one hand, there are so many convenient ways of handling delivery, such as Ubereats and Deliveroo, and all these super-fast same-day delivery options are making consumers used to fast service and immediacy.

But on the other end, businesses are still apologising for delays in delivery timings and stock issues because of Covid, Brexit, Suez, etc.

While we are still focused on helping clients grow sales and conversion rates, we’re also dealing with the additional challenge of managing expectations for stock and delivery issues. At the same time, we have to keep the users engaged with the business.

How this works over Christmas will be interesting….

What do you forecast are going to be key opportunities for eCommerce in the next 12 months when it comes to optimisation?

5G has the potential to widen what our phones are capable of. What might have previously been a concern around slow download speeds, etc. may no longer be a worry. We saw a similar thing when we moved from 3G to 4G, but the improvement with 5G is likely to be on a higher scale.

Another important avenue is artificial reality (AR) and virtual try-on. These are super-useful for businesses such as cosmetics, eyewear, footwear, and fashion to help customers get the size and fit right. These technologies speed up confidence and reliability for the consumer, and also save money for retailers.

The eCommerce landscape is also changing rapidly. Different platforms are being acquired by other platforms, such as ContentSquare buying Hotjar, Episerver buying Optimizely (and taking on the latter’s name!), or Glassbox buying SessionCam.

This trend combines different talents and technology, which will help digital technology advance forward faster. But the interesting question is, will the market slow down as young independent businesses lose their ability to be nimble and adaptable?

What common challenges have you seen companies face in their optimisation journey?

Having worked with dozens of clients in the past 6 years, I see the most common issues being:

  1. Data: When clients want us to conduct experiments on a sampling basis, it affects the measurement and accuracy of data. This, in turn, leads to skewed, and often incorrect, results.
  2. Implementation: We create A/B tests for clients with our in-house development team on the client’s experimentation platform, run it, and report the results. But when the clients take the winning experiences and implement them onto their site, they often run into problems with the build or even with convincing the higher management that the change is tried and tested and required.
  3. Experimentation during peak sales season: This one is a never-ending testing conundrum: Should we stop all testing to protect sales, or should we make the most of the traffic volume and test more?

How do you endeavour to help eCommerce brands overcome these challenges?

Let me pick the same challenges as above and talk about how we help our clients through them.

  1. Data: We work with the clients to find ways of getting accurate data. It could be in a variety of ways—in choosing the right experimentation or reporting platform, limiting segments that we use for reporting, or reducing the reporting time periods.
  2. Implementation: We help the client create and roll out experiences to all users once the experimentation proves successful. We support them by briefing in updates to their dev team when required, and many a time we also help the client eCommerce team put together business cases to justify the changes being made where costs vs. return is important.
  3. Experimentation during peak sales season: This being a tricky situation, we always recommend caution. Peak sales period is very critical to any business, so if there is even the slightest doubt, we prefer to play it safe.

Being an agency, we get to work with a wide variety of businesses. We see the challenges they face and support them in making the right decisions. Because we have such varied exposure, we are well placed to advise based on what we have seen work well elsewhere.

No two problems are ever the same for each business but no matter what, we win or learn.