While ecommerce is growing rapidly the fact of the matter is most of your site visitors have never bought from you. Building confidence in these visitors is key. Linda Bustos from the excellent GetElastic blog shares a great example. Backcountry, an online retailer, has a unique feature called “Bubblelicious”. If, while you are on their category page, someone adds an item to cart or writes a review backcountry.com displays that activity-
Does this magically convert 100s of visitors? No. Does it clearly and powerfully demonstrate real-time purchase activity? You bet.
I’m going to do some inferential analysis here- backcountry.com is renowned for their focus on analytics and measurement. If this feature remains ‘live’ it would be because they have metric level proof it increases conversions in a meaningful way. Mark 6-1-11 on your calendar. Call the event “backcountry.com bubblelicious test”. If on 6-1-11 the feature is still live we will know for sure the strategy increases conversions. Later, based on your budget develop an adaptation of this idea that works for your site. For example, instead of showing individual item purchase activity you might just want to show overall purchase activity. Or try this idea.
Update: It’s been 6 months and the feature is still live, which means it must have had a positive business impact.