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Evolving Ecommerce Through Experimentation

How Brooks Bell helped the world's largest retail bookseller test-and-learn their way to success in the era of Amazon

For many years, our clients’ CEO maintained the brand wasn’t trying to be like “those other guys in Seattle.” And yet, a dose of reality hit upon being faced with plummeting sales across both online and retail stores. Even if the company didn’t want to compete, they still needed to optimize. 

The digital team was ready. They knew they needed to improve customer engagement and increase online revenue, and yet, were challenged by limited insights into customer behavior, and lacked the internal capabilities and technical know-how to optimize their website experience. 

Enter Brooks Bell. Over the course of our two-year partnership—the work of which included organizational consulting, end-to-end test execution, analytics, personalization, and UX research—our client doubled the amount of tests they were running and saw a total $36M gain in annualized revenue.

Our Approach

At Brooks Bell, we’re dedicated to facilitating sustainable growth by placing your customer at the heart of every decision. As a boutique consultancy with a 20-year track record of success, we specialize in insight-driven transformation – helping brands navigate complex marketing and customer experience challenges.

Our team—with deep expertise in analytics, experimentation, UX research, and organizational effectiveness—is uniquely positioned to advise on both consumer behavior and the intricacies of optimizing enterprise operations. Unlike larger firms, we offer highly customized solutions that prioritize value creation over standardized frameworks, as well as hands-on coaching, training, and facilitation to drive tangible impact.

Our approach with this client was two-fold: to optimize their site experience while simultaneously building internal experimentation capabilities and culture so that the digital team would be fully empowered to take over at the end of our partnership. 

Outcomes & Impact

Within the first year of our partnership, the digital team had a formal testing program and team in place, a library of customer insights to fuel tests, and a 12-month testing roadmap. The outcomes of this work led to a $16 million increase in incremental website revenue – a figure that was 60% higher than our initial goal. 

Additionally, as part of an intentional effort to establish experimentation as a larger part of the company’s organizational culture, Brooks Bell consultants hosted and facilitated a series of cross-functional trainings, brainstorms and roadshows. 

With a dedicated team in place, we evolved our work in the second and third year of our partnership by increasing the velocity and complexity of tests, and by testing more personalized experiences. This included: 

  • Head-to-head testing of three personalization tools to help inform the decision of which vendor to choose
  • Testing of personalized website experiences for visitors to the .com website, leveraging segments built using behavioral, demographic and location data
  • Development of recency-frequency-monetary (RFM) segments to provide a deeper understanding of the brands’ customers and their unique needs and motivations on the site
  • Supporting the team during the Holiday season by launching 15 holiday-focused tests – which garnered 23% of their total annualized revenue that year alone. 

Most importantly, we did all of this without increasing the company’s spend.


incremental revenue


Brooks Bell is a leader in this space. The quality of their service, personal attention and responsiveness to our needs is top-notch. They continue to provide a high level of service and partnership that allows us to be successful. With their help, [our website] has achieved significant growth, and the impact to UX and our business is immeasurable.

– Director, Digital Optimization, Revenue & Traffic, Fortune 500 Retail Bookseller


Insights & Learning

Perhaps the most important insight we uncovered was that common best practices did not work for the brands’ customers.

That is, unlike the Amazon experience, our clients’ customers aren’t typically inclined to make impulse purchases and therefore are not as impacted by the price of a product, or variations in calls to action.

Instead, their focus is on the books: What does the cover look like? How many pages are there? What do editorial and customer reviewers have to say about it? Is this book worth the hours of their time they’ll be spending with it?

This insight demonstrates the importance of testing to verify previously held or widely accepted biases about what “should” work.

By partnering with Brooks Bell, the digital team was able to move away from a one- size fits-all experience on their website that remains today. Long after our partnership concluded, the team continues to take a more data-driven and programmatic approach to improving their website. Experimentation has finally removed the guesswork in delivering a better customer experience and optimized the path to increasing digital revenue.