From our Best in Class eCommerce List is backcountry.com. We’ve been following this site for years; from an innovative/creative eCommerce leader to a higher converting conventional site that follows CRO best practices and strategy.
BACKCOUNTRY.COM VIDEO REVIEW TRANSCRIPT
KEITH HAGEN: Hey, it’s Keith from the Conversion IQ Team at Inflow doing a review of Backcountry.com. We’ve got a long history with this site in a way that we’ve been monitoring it for years. What’s interesting is that Backcountry.com used to be considered a real innovator. It was creative, it was different and then about three years ago we observed that the creative site got tested head to head against a completely conventional site. This came a few months after a new CMO or, I can’t remember, CTO or somebody significant, maybe CEO, came on board. Shortly after that this conventional site that was being tested won. Backcountry.com went from being an example of a creative site, innovative site, to being one that followed every convention. It was just best practices every which way.
Before when it was creative, I couldn’t figure out how it was converting. Obviously, it converted better. That test went on, conventional against creative, for about three or four months. Then eventually we saw that the conventional site ended up winning. This is the conventional site with evolution. It’s been three years, so the site hasn’t gone through another major redesign that we’re aware of or that we’ve observed. It definitely has evolved, and they’ve obviously been doing a good job of making things better as they go. Let’s review Backcountry.com, a Best In Class company on our Best In Class eCommerce list.
Let’s look at this site in terms of orientation. You get here and you know it’s Backcountry, you know that they sell things for men and women. They’re getting some trust factors with phone number and live chat. Then you see their banner and you get a good sense of what they do and what it means to you. It means leisure, it means outdoors, it’s all of these things. You immediately have a good sense of who they are, what they do and what it means to you. That’s orientation.
You’ll notice from looking at the site and at the scroll bar that this homepage goes on for a long time. There are no rules to homepages anymore. They don’t have to be above the flag, all of the information doesn’t have to be above the fold. If you scroll down Backcountry, you’ll see the strategy. The first thing that they do is offer brand, and then they’re looking at a magazine-style gallery, a way to hit each of their markets. Here’s camp gear, they know that’s the season. Here’s swimming, it’s the season for that too. Sunglasses, they hit all of their main categories without actually calling them out. It’s category navigation, but it’s very seasonal, just like their company. Brilliant.
Then you go down and get bestsellers and new arrivals. If you get through all of this material and you still don’t find what you’re looking for, they know that it’s time to give you the whole kit and caboodle. They’re sending you into the main categories here and they’re allowing you to drill down two levels. After that they get to things like community and other things that complement, but you notice they’re not afraid to have a long homepage. They end up with the categories being repeated because if you haven’t found what you’re looking for by this time, you really do need this category.
Let’s go look at something like men’s jackets. You mainly see you can filter by brand. Over here, one thing that we love about Backcountry.com is that they have a great navigation. I failed to mention in the orientation that their main value proposition is right here up in the header, “Free two day shipping on orders over $50.” That’s what people care about, that’s the main objection. If you can handle the objection around buying online, which the main objection is shipping and free shipping. Also returns and free returns, if you can handle those things when somebody lands on the site while they’re in the orientation phase, then great.
Anyways, on to navigation. Something we love about Backcountry is its facet navigation over here to the left. Let’s say you want to narrow down the jackets by size. See how the page simply just filters. The page doesn’t refresh, it doesn’t zoom back up to the top, it pretty much says, “Unfiltering for you. We’ve got all of these results.” Another thing it does is it allows you to select more than one thing at a time, not just one size and one color. It allows you to choose a couple of colors. Now I get to see the items that I’m interested in. OK. All right. We’ve narrowed this down. You still have a lot of results on a site like Backcountry.com, so as we scroll down we see that they show enough items. They actually have a bit of a lazy load, but they also have pagination. They allow you to load quite a lot of products, but then, for the sake of performance I’d imagine, they start giving you page two, page three. They’re really trying to avoid that page two and three through offering more products on the page and doing a lazy load where, as you scroll down, the products appear again and again. That’s awesome.
I’m going to pick one of these jackets. Taking a look over here, we see that the actual gallery results are really good. Immediately they don’t tell you up in the picture that they have a sale. They say “30% off,” so it’s a given that it’s a sale. Then down below they say, “Here’s how much it was. Here’s how much it is.” They use proper coloring, orange, it catches your eye. They throw in some readings and they give you context around why it’s on sale. That’s very rare in the eCommerce world—past season colors—and they let you make up your mind like, “Yes, it’s on sale, but here’s the reason.” For people who don’t care about fashion so much and having last season’s colors, they’re able to say, “Well, that is a deal.”
Let’s click into one of these products here. OK. They have this little proactive chat, which is really good. They have somebody who represents their Customer Service Team. You can actually imagine that this is the person you’re going to contact. It resonates because this is maybe prototypical of the type of person who is actually on the site. Really good, it pops up, it’s kind of in your way, but it’s very obvious how to close the button and it’s very sale in I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS “it’s very sale in” part?. Great, great, chat. Chat will increase your conversion rate, it’s like somebody in a store popping by and saying, “Hey, I’m over here if you need anything. Just let me know.” Proactive chat increases conversion rate consistently. We test it a lot.
The product page itself, they call out 25 reviews. They use contrast here. They don’t use gold buttons, but they use larger buttons that contrast with the background that are very obvious what they are. Then they throw in a blue link to tell you how many reviews they have. This is key. A lot of sites don’t have enough reviews. If you don’t have enough reviews, it says that people don’t buy from you. Even if they do, you have to capture those reviews and you have to show them. Backcountry is good at that. Here they, of course, have all of the tips and tricks. One thing that they do a great job at is allowing you to see the product. They could actually do a little bit better there in terms of getting even closer, but that’s a quibble really. They allow you to change.
Here’s the “add to cart” button. Underneath is the “add to wish list,” they should make it a little bit easier. The first thing they do is if you add to wish list is they take you away from the page and they send you into the cart and you have to register or create an account. That’s really bad. We saw with ctshirts.com, that’s ctshirts.com, a much better way to do this and keep people engaged. Their wish list has a lot of work to do. Once you get that wish list going and you’re capturing more engagement, then people will register and then you can build your wish list faster and then you can reengage with people with abandonment wish list programs. It really just soups up your entire program in a way that you’ve never even imagined. We’re big on wish list optimization, but Backcountry doesn’t have that yet.
Something they do have is right underneath the “add to cart,” they handle those objections. They’re saying, “Two days free shipping, 100% guaranteed returns, price match guarantee.” They really just sell the same brands as everyone else. These three things are kind of the trifecta of conversion for them, and they have them right there below the “add to cart” on the page. I would advocate that they do something with this wish list, move it over, deemphasize it a little bit since it’s a bit of a pain to work with right now and bring those up even farther. Then they offer tax bucks, people do care about that when they’re buying something. Then they also do cross sell. Somebody who often buys a shirt often buys the hat. It’s like, “Well, great.” You can even select this. I’m going to add the hat to this and now I can add two items to my cart, not just the one with the button up there. That’s it.
They do a lot of other stuff. There are some items, the more popular items, they actually let people take their own photos and send them in. You can get more views of the product actually on real live people. Just a fantastic site. We’re going to add to cart and we’re going to add those two items to cart down here. OK. Something that they have is an amazing cart. They have really, really clean images, title, description, amount available in inventory, you can move the wish list. Again, there is registration. They allow you to choose the shipping. It’s obvious what items are free. They give you your subtotal and then they give you a total with a little caveat that tax is calculated. This is almost a perfect cart. There are a few tweaks I might make for the average site that doesn’t have a strong brand like working with trust factors and a few other tweaks. For the most part, this is pretty much a perfect cart, especially for Backcountry.
Then they do something that nobody else does, I shouldn’t say nobody else. Four years ago, the one page checkout was big. Not many Best In Class eCommerce sites do that. The ones that did have retracted back to a multi-step for the most part. You can see those on our blog post about comparing Best In Class websites. You’ll see what features each company has. For the most part, they have a one-page checkout. If you go in and try a one-page checkout, Backcountry is the company to model. They do it pretty well. They’re one of the few companies that can actually pull it off. I don’t think it’s totally due to their design. We’ve tested multi-step against one-page using pretty much the same kind of template. It’s not for every site.
That’s it. That’s our review of Backcountry.com, why we love it, how it could improve. I hope that helps.
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