Why not increase Hurtigruten online sales some more?
During the last 18 months, Hurtigruten has increased online sales by approx. 3300% (and we didn’t start at $0 …). We want to increase online sales even more and soon we will make some more adjustments.
Online success is easy
Sales is very easy. If people can’t find you, they will go somewhere else. If people don’t talk about your product, you will sell less. If they come to your store, but can’t find the product they want, they are less likely to buy. If your customers can’t find the checkout counter, they won’t buy! There’s all kinds of theory that support these simple facts. The behavior model is valid in all purchasing situations offline and online. You don’t have to be a scientist to get the point!
There are two basic ingredients to online success for travel companies:
- Increase sales – If you don’t have a website, customers won’t buy from you online. If you don’t show up in Google when people search for your name, it’s less likely that they will buy from you. If people arrive on your website and can’t see where to buy, they will end up calling or buying somewhere else (thereby increasing distribution costs). The basics are taken care. My point is that minor changes can have a huge impact on online sales!
- Cut costs – The other side of sales is distribution costs. The internet gives companies a chance to lower distribution costs drastically. By automating business processes for end-consumers and for valued travel agency partners, we make our business more efficient.
The key principle is: Increase sales – lower costs. It’s not rocket surgery.
I want to show you how one small adjustment lead to a significant increase in online sales and then explain how another adjustment can boost our online sales even more.
Success story: Double sales with one minor change
On February 16 2011, we introduced a travel search box on our front page (click link for explanation). The immediate impact was a doubling in traffic (as seen below) to our booking engine (also known as the checkout counter). The traffic to our website did not increase, but more people found what they were looking for, and they proceeded to the checkout counter. Sales increased significantly and we wondered why we didn’t implement this a long time ago. What would our online revenue be today if we had made this change 12 months ago?
The investment minor. The ROI was huge.
Here’s how the front page on Hurtigruten.no looks with key functionality on the front page:
Next steps: Increase sales even more with another minor change
Now we have new insight! In March 2011, Spotless Interactive and Netlife Research presented the findings from usability tests performed in London, Hamburg and Oslo. Lots of interesting insights, but more importantly we now have supporting documentation from some of the best usability/psychology web experts in the world that our websites and booking engines have lots of improvement potential. One simple and quite obvious observation was that most of the people that tested our websites did not use the search functionality on the front page. The reason: In order to use the search box, the customer needs to scroll down on the page. Out 10 people in the UK usability tests, only 2 (!) saw the search box feature! Since we know that this feature drives traffic to the checkout counter, we want more people to see it! The picture below shows (very roughly) how we potentially can increase the traffic to our checkout counter from 2 out 10 customers to 6 out of 10 (an educated guess). If more people see it, more people will use it.
The business case is obvious. A similar modification in February basically doubled our online sales. We expect the modification described in this blogpost to have an even stronger impact. The change will be implemented on June 6th, 2011.