The Role of A/B Testing in Cross Border E-commerce Website Conversion

October 14, 2019

As a growing direct-to-consumer e-commerce merchant, one of your top goals is to boost your onsite conversion rates and increase e-commerce sales. Additionally retail brands need to be hyper-focused on doing whatever it takes to acquire more customers across more markets to achieve greater value for the business.

One of the ways we help cross-border retailers boost conversion rates is through targeted A/B testing. Sometimes called split testing, A/B testing is a process in which a defined percent of the customers coming to your site are presented with one version of a localized page while the rest are presented with an alternate version to see if a variable (or set of variables) impacts conversion on a page or across the site. A/B testing variables across the buyer journey is a great way to examine and optimize all the possible touch points affecting your customer and ultimately facilitating their decision to place an order. This allows brands to iterate rapidly and roll out a better online experience to online shoppers and thus increasing conversion rates.

Three Powerful A/B Variables

Flow's flexible, modular cross border e-commerce platform is often called upon to help with A/B testing. Customers like Charles & Colvard leverage our A/B testing tools to achieve continuous improvement to their conversion rates for their localized experiences. Outerknown and MVMT watches also embrace the opportunity to A/B test several aspects of the customer journey in different markets. Based on our work with online brands and retailers, we've identified three key areas where A/B testing can inform a brand's strategy and improve cross-border sales through incremental improvements in conversion.

  1. Payment options. In many of the top cross border e-commerce markets, not having the right mix of locally preferred payment options instantly reveals your brand isn't familiar with local norms. For example, our research shows that 1 in 5 consumers in India who haven’t yet made a purchase with a foreign online merchant cited lack of payment options as a top barrier to cross-border shopping. A/B testing in new markets will give you the ability to hone in on the payments your customers use the most, and weed out the ones they don’t. While the specific types of payment methods to offer is important, another considering is how many options to present your customer to avoid the paradox of choice. By A/B testing 3 available payment options against 5 can help to figure out the sweet spot of number of options as well as which ones to present to customers.
  2. Shipping. As our research highlights, 46% of total respondents across all global markets that have not made a cross-border purchase cited “high shipping costs” as the greatest barrier to cross-border shopping. Testing various shipping options in global markets can be a great way to discover the kinds of pricing and delivery methods your customers respond to best (and worst). You might find that some markets prefer a flat rate shipping option instead of free shipping above a price threshold. Meanwhile, other markets may prefer tiered shipping rates. Retailers can also test the tolerance of certain customers in specific markets for higher shipping rates compared to others.  For example, if there is no visibly significant lift in conversion when testing a free shipping option versus no free shipping option, then a brand might decide not to offer free shipping in that market in order to offset the cost of free shipping in other markets where consumers demonstrate high demand for it.
  3. Pricing display. Not every market has the same response to how prices are displayed. At Flow, we believe that presenting prices in the local currency is table stakes, but how these currencies are displayed can vary from market to market. In some countries customers may respond better to a currency symbol ($, £, €) while in other markets the written abbreviations (AUD, Dh) or a mix of both (R$, NT$) might be more common. Even though in some cases it may seem there are certain established best practices, these can change, so it’s important to test these variables. Rounding on prices is another variable that helps your site feel local to customers. It could be well worth testing price values that end in .99 against .95 or whole numbers to see if there’s an impact on customer conversion.

Other variables that might be worth testing, depending on the market, include: how duties and taxes are shown (as part of the price, or listed separately, for example), return policies, and types of product promotions and bundling, among other factors.

To read more about how Flow customers have achieved significant increases in their online conversion rates, check out our case studies.

cross border e-commerce
global markets
international business