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I’d Test That: How Increasing Urgency Can Increase Revenue for Sears.com


This week, we’re taking a look at the site for Sears Roebuck and Company. They’ve been around since the late 1800s, so it’s no surprise that they are on top of their testing game. When first diving into their site, it was obvious that they are testing different homepage layouts between browsers.

Since Sears is obviously already testing savvy, we chose to explore a less obvious testing route that could be a fast track to more revenue. It’s the module called “Todays Real Deal,” and it’s being used on Chrome and Firefox, but not Safari.

The Real Deal is a daily, limited-time opportunity for savings. This particular deal was for a Garmin GPS, with a considerable price slash of $80. The timer starts in the morning and runs for what appears to be 15 hours, which is a great incentive to act within a time parameter. Additionally, there’s the “Other great deals” module on the right and the “Deals you missed” module below the main Deal.

The “Deals you missed” section is a commonly used tactic with sites like Bid.com, with the goal of making customers have non-buyers remorse: “Well, I missed that but I won’t miss the next one!” That tactic can also potentially cause friction and resentment; it may convey a sort of “Womp womp, too bad you missed it” tone. That would be an interesting A/B test; splitting the traffic between a Real Deal page with that module and without. But that’s for later. First, we’d like to focus on the timer.

The one issue with using a countdown clock that has a significant chunk of time on it is that it enables “think about it” behavior. So if a customer sees a deal they like, then sees that they have 15 hours to mull it over, they might go away with every intention of returning. They might also completely forget to return. Here’s two things Sears could test to drive more conversions on the Real Deal page.

1. Dial up the pressure with social proof.

One technique we’ve seen have great success is to show how many people have taken advantage of a deal. So Sears could A/B split test this page, and the challenger could have a line of text directly under the timer that says something like “1,349 Sears customers have purchased today’s deal!”

This would serve two purposes. One, it would show them that others were taking advantage of this deal. Social proof is powerful permission for us to make a decision when it comes to spending money. Two, it creates a sense of scarcity. Uh-oh. All these people are buying the Garmin. They might run out of them before the timer’s up!

2. Give them a helpful reminder.

Another test that could be done is to offer a reminder email. This could be done in an A/B/C split test or run after the winner of the first is determined. Depending on their backend resources, Sears.com could include a check box next to the deal that says “Send me an email reminder before this deal is over.” The automated email would drive customers back to the Real Deal page, potentially increasing

conversions and decreasing the likelihood of forgetting about the deal.

Bonus: If the person is already signed into their Sears.com account, it will automatically have their email address. If the person doesn’t have an online account, it can act as a way to increase registration.

Will the Real Deal please stand up?

The testing possibilities for Sears.com are endless, but this module is a great chance to move the needle on conversions. We’d also like to see if, after testing into this strategy, the conversions increase when the module is placed higher up on the homepage. In fact, one of our Developers noticed that the module had been taken off completely when he visited the homepage. To get solid learnings on this test, the module would have to stay up at least for the duration of the deal, if not longer.

Have you tested into urgency messaging? If so, what were your results?