eCommerce Fail the Lack of Regular Usability Testing


eCommerce Fail, the Lack of Regular Usability Testing Means Only Half of Firms are Positioned for Success

According to a recent article by eConsultancy, global ecommerce sales are predicted to rise to over $4 trillion by 2020. This means competition between online retailers has never been more intense. So who will win the eCommerce war? Firms that strategically and proactively optimize their User Experience

ecommerce-fail-the-Lack-of-Regular-Usability-Testing-Useful-Usability-1200x627TL;DR Don’t let your competitors eat your lunch. If you’re not doing on-going strategic usability testing to improve performance, the odds are good your competition is!

In a recent report from Econsultancy, Ecommerce Performance report more than 400 ecommerce professionals from companies and agencies were surveyed about various testing and experimentation topics.

There’s good news in the report, and bad news.

The good news?

About half of you are getting it right.

The bad news?

Half of you are not getting it right, and therefore are in danger of losing business, and revenue, to your competitors.

Here are a few key points of interesting details from the report, including some charts that will reveal the danger in not getting it right

Strategic Use of UX Optimization

According to eConsultancy, 78% of companies surveyed reported their ecommerce revenues had grown in the past 12 months.

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So, is this due to advances in strategy?

Not exactly.

While 43% of respondents say their organizations’ ecommerce strategy is ‘quite advanced’ and 11% consider it ‘very’ advanced, 46% of companies still rate themselves as either ‘not very advanced’ or ‘immature.’


More bad news.

Turns out many businesses report they are still struggling to break out of their siloed organizational structure. This structure restricts information about online customer behavior being accessible to offline departments.

Data is the key to business success, and when different departments don’t have access to important behavioral UX data, everyone loses.

And the bad news keeps coming.

There also is an apparent lack of insight into the barriers to conversion.

Only 15% of respondents say they have an accurate idea of how much online revenue is lost through site abandonment due to a poor user experience.


That’s just 15% folks!

Which means, you are probably in that 85% bucket of firms that do not have accurate information on abandonment.

Chart How Advanced is your organizations eCommerce strategy from Useful Usability

The Gap in Using Strategic Experimentation

The eConsultancy study also indicates that 56% of respondents rate the impact of experimentation as ‘high’ or ‘very high,’ with the majority clearly willing to acknowledge it as a key business enabler.

Sounds good, right?

But hold on.

Alas, many respondents who understand the advantages have not yet taken steps to put it into practice.


Possibly organizations have not yet reached maturity in ecommerce optimization. But it may be due to failing to address the practicalities required, such as resources, capabilities, and financial backing.

Just 14% of companies describe experimentation as a strategic priority, meaning they have a documented and structured approach to testing.

Chart Support for a culture of testing and experimentation from Useful Usability

Experimentation Restricted and Not Sophisticated

So, what tools are companies using for experimentation?

According to the eConsultancy study, many organisations are restricted in terms of the volume of experimentation they conduct, as well as relatively low levels of sophistication in the experiments they run.

As a result, companies are often basing their ecommerce decisions on limited or incomplete data.

Customer Feedback: The analysis of customer feedback is the most widely-used technique for improving ecommerce performance (81% of company respondents and 70% of agencies).

A/B Testing: A/B testing is similarly commonplace.

Usability Testing: In contrast, usability testing is relatively under-used, as are expert usability reviews.

According to the chart below, only 51% of companies, and 40% of agencies, report they use Usability Testing to optimize ecommerce performance.

This is not shocking to me. I’ve seen plenty of firms using usability testing for building websites and apps, then completely abandoning all testing once the site or app is live.

But think about it:

The best time for on-going strategic usability testing is when people are using the site! How else can you know what’s wrong and how to fix it?

So customer feedback and A/B testing are used, but not usability testing.

But A/B testing is enough, right?



Because as I mentioned in my article on why A/B testing needs usability testing, A/B testing does not provide the ‘why’ qualitative data for why A beat B. To get that data, it’s necessary to conduct qualitative usability testing.

As the chart below indicates, about half of companies use usability testing, and half don’t.

So the question is; are you a have, or have not?

And what about your competitors?

Chart Types of experimentation to improve eCommerce performance from Useful Usability

Good Intentions and Doing More Experimentation

The interesting news is, when asked about plans for experimentation in relation to technological and consumer trends, 59% of companies said they are planning for conversational commerce such as messaging apps and chatbots.

And 55% of companies said they will be experimenting with AI for personalization, while  44% said they’ll be exploring digital payments.

But shockingly, just 18% are planning to experiment with voice technology, despite an apparent surge in consumer interest and use!

Chart planned experiments for eCommerce optimization by 2020 from Useful Usability

So the evidence is clear, many organizations are still struggling to balance performance optimization with the limitations they currently face, all the while striving to experiment in response to technological trends.

As eConsultancy reports: if we can gather anything from the current state of experimentation within organizations, it is that a strategic approach (rather than ad-hoc testing) will be the first step on the road to success.

To which I would add:

You need to be using strategic, on-going usability testing as a major tool of eCommerce optimization.

Because if you are in the half that’s not, the odds are good that your competition is in the half that is.

And I’d hate to see them eat your lunch.


Based on an article from eConsultancy: Just half of ecommerce companies do regular usability testing (but 60% planning conversational commerce)