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1. What is A/B testing in ecommerce?

Shopify A/B testing: How to get started + top tools

Ever wonder why some buttons convert website visitors better than others or if a different product image might lead to more sales? In the competitive world of ecommerce, even small changes to the elements of online stores (landing pages, CTAs, etc.) can have a big impact on your bottom line. That's where A/B testing comes in.

This blog post is your one-stop guide to A/B testing on Shopify. We'll break down the basics, explore what you can test, and show you how to run successful tests to maximize your store's success.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • A/B testing in ecommerce is a method of comparing two versions of the same web page or other marketing elements to determine which one performs better in terms of conversion rates.

  • While A/B testing focuses on comparing two versions of one element, multivariate testing analyzes multiple variables simultaneously. Due to its simplicity, A/B testing is recommended for beginners.

  • A/B testing is crucial for making data-driven decisions to optimize conversion rates, enhance user experience, and gain a competitive edge by continuously refining your Shopify store.

  • To A/B test in Shopify, potential test areas include the homepage layout, product descriptions, images, pricing strategies, overall website layout, calls-to-action, and the checkout process to improve user engagement and conversions.

  • To decide if A/B testing is right for your Shopify store, consider factors such as low conversion rates, sufficient web traffic, a diverse product range, and the necessary resources to conduct testing.

  • The process of A/B testing includes selecting an element to test, creating variations, using an A/B testing tool, setting up and running the test, and then analyzing results to implement the more successful variation.

  • Gelato's print on demand service can be used alongside A/B testing to experiment with product designs without inventory risk, optimizing various store elements for higher conversion rates.

What is A/B testing in ecommerce?

A/B testing in ecommerce, also known as split testing or CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) split testing, is a strategic method of testing different versions of your web pages (for headlines, product descriptions, images, layouts, CTA, etc.), marketing elements, and anything you suspect could impact your conversion rate to ascertain which version performs best based on specific objectives.

A/B testing example

Imagine having two versions of your Shopify store's homepage: Version A with a red "Buy Now" button and Version B with a blue one. A/B testing allows you to show each version to a randomly selected portion of your website traffic and see which one drives more sales. A/B testing empowers you to make data-driven decisions, not decisions based on "gut instincts."

A/B testing vs. multivariate testing

A/B testing compares two distinct versions of an element. On the other hand, multivariate testing compares multiple variations of several elements against each other simultaneously. While multivariate tests can reveal complex interactions between elements, they are often more complex to set up and analyze.

For most Shopify stores, especially those starting with A/B testing, focusing on one element at a time is recommended. This simplifies analysis and allows you to build a solid foundation for future, more intricate tests.

The importance of split testing

Business owner analyzing A/B tests

Every visitor to your Shopify store is a potential customer. So, you will want to ensure your store is optimized to convert them—in other words, to encourage them to take the desired action, be it making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or doing anything else that drives your business goals. 

Split or A/B testing helps you:

  • Make data-driven decisions: A/B testing eliminates the guesswork and helps you base your store's design and content decisions on what actually works.

  • Increase conversions: Find the elements that drive more sales and clicks and optimize them for the desired customer behavior.

  • Improve user experience: Enhance your store's layout and functionality to keep visitors happy.

  • Reduce bounce rates: Keep customers engaged by creating a compelling shopping experience.

  • Gain a competitive edge: Stay ahead by constantly refining your store to outperform competitors.

What to A/B test in Shopify

Capturing product images for testing

When devising your A/B testing strategy for your Shopify store, you should identify the elements that could potentially contribute to a better user experience and increased conversions. 

While the possibilities for A/B testing are virtually endless, here are some popular elements you can test in your Shopify store:

1. Landing page

Your Shopify store's homepage is essentially a virtual storefront. Therefore, A/B testing your landing page's main header, hero image, featured products, promotional offers, and navigation menus is essential to determine what captures your visitors' attention and entices them to explore further.

2. Product descriptions

Test alternative arrangements of product descriptions - whether longer, more detailed descriptions perform better than shorter, concise ones or vice versa. You can also check whether certain kinds of language or tones resonate more with your customers. 

3. Product images

Different types of product images can create different user perceptions and behaviors. Hence, A/B tests vary in designs, image sizes, or even the number of images displayed for each product. Also, consider evaluating the impact of interactive elements like 360-degree views or zoom functionality on user behavior and conversions.

4. Pricing

Small changes in pricing can have a big impact on conversion rates. It is important to test different pricing levels to find the optimal balance between profitability and sales volume. Factors such as competitor pricing and customer perception should be taken into account when A/B testing prices to develop a comprehensive pricing strategy.

5. Website layout

Your website layout is the foundation of your store's user experience. By testing different layouts, you can ensure visitors can easily navigate, find what they're looking for, and ultimately convert into paying customers. You can test different menu structures, page layouts, or color schemes. 

6. Calls-to-action (CTAs)

CTAs are one of the primary drivers of conversions, so they are a high-impact area on which to focus your A/B tests. They tell visitors exactly what action you want them to take, whether it's adding an item to their cart, subscribing to your email list, or making a purchase. Experimenting with different CTA text, colors, sizes, or positions can provide valuable insights.  

7. Checkout process

Removing friction in the checkout process is crucial in minimizing cart abandonment and maximizing conversions. You can A/B test checkout page designs, payment options, or even the amount of information you request from customers during checkout. 

8. Mobile-friendliness

While mobile responsiveness is generally considered a website design best practice, A/B testing can still be a valuable tool to optimize the mobile experience within your Shopify store. So, test how your store looks and functions on different mobile devices.

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Deciding if Shopify A/B testing is right for you

We now know that A/B testing can be a powerful tool for optimizing your Shopify store. But how do you decide if it is right for you? Here are some key factors that will help you decide if A/B testing is required for your Shopify store:

  • Low conversion rate: If your Shopify store isn't generating the conversion rates or revenue you expected, consider A/B testing. Testing lets you identify weaknesses and take action to boost performance.

  • Web traffic: Your ecommerce store should attract decent web traffic. For A/B testing to produce statistically relevant results, there need to be enough data points, so a certain number of visitors is needed.

  • Product Range: An extensive range of products or categories can benefit from A/B testing as it allows you to optimize each category and product page. Plus, customer preferences can vary across different product categories.

  • Resources: Running an A/B test involves setting up different versions of your store, tracking performance data, and analyzing the results. Make sure you have the resources - time, funding, and personnel - to commit to these tasks.

  • Looking for changes: This can be a deciding factor. A/B testing could result in significant changes to your website's design, layout, copy, or even product presentation. If you or your team aren't open to adapting to tested improvements, the value of A/B testing diminishes.

When you assess your store based on these factors, you'll be better positioned to decide if Shopify A/B testing will drive your business in the right direction. It's important to remember that no two ecommerce stores are alike – your unique goals and circumstances should ultimately guide your decision-making.

How to run an A/B test in your Shopify store step-by-step

Business owner setting up A/B test

Ready to harness the power of A/B testing and unlock valuable insights for your Shopify store? Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

Step 1: Choose what to test

Start by pinpointing an element of your store that you believe could significantly impact your goals. This could be a product page element, a CTA button, or even the overall layout of your homepage.

While it might be tempting to test multiple things at once, resist the urge! Start with one element and ensure a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the variations you introduce.

Step 2: Develop variations

Once you've chosen your element, develop at least two distinct variations. The goal is to see which variation performs better.

While you want clear differences in the element you're testing, maintain consistency in the overall design of your store. This ensures the only variable influencing results is the element you're testing.

Step 3: Select an A/B testing tool

There are many A/B testing tools available on the market, both free and paid. Here are some options to consider:

  • Shopify apps: The Shopify app store offers a few free A/B testing apps, including ABConvert and Lomio. These apps are a good starting point for stores with limited budgets.

  • Other A/B testing tools: For more advanced features and functionality, consider analytics tools like Google Analytics, Shoplift, Optimizely, VWO, or Convert Experiences. These tools offer features like multivariate testing, heatmaps, and more in-depth analytics. 

Step 4: Set up the test

Each A/B testing tool has its own user interface and setup process. Carefully follow the instructions provided by your chosen tool to ensure your test is configured correctly.

Determine a realistic timeframe for running your test. This will depend on the website traffic volume of your online store. Ideally, you want to gather enough data to achieve statistical significance in your results. Also, don't forget to consider any external factors that might influence the test's results, such as seasons, weather, events, or holidays. Incorporate these into your testing to avoid skewed data.

Step 5: Monitor and analyze results

While the specific metrics you track will depend on your test goals, common ones include conversion rates, bounce rates, click-through rates, and time spent on the page. Don't jump to conclusions after a short period. Allow the test to run for its designated timeframe to ensure statistically significant results.

Once the test is complete, analyze the data to see which variation performed better. This will provide valuable insights into how to optimize the element you tested.

Step 6: Implement changes and iterate

Based on your test results, implement the winning variation in your live store. But don't forget: A/B testing is an ongoing process. Don't stop at one test! Identify new areas for improvement and repeat the process for future tests to continuously optimize your Shopify store for maximum conversions.

Bonus tip: Before making significant changes to your store based on A/B test results, consider running a confirmation test. This is a quick follow-up test to validate the findings of your initial test and ensure the winning variation maintains its positive impact.

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Maximizing Shopify success with A/B testing and Gelato

A/B testing unlocks powerful insights for optimizing your Shopify store, but what if you could amplify its impact? That's right - you can achieve greater success with Gelato's innovative print on demand platform.

  • Effortlessly test, fearlessly launch: Gelato's POD service eliminates inventory risks, allowing you to test a wider range of product designs through A/B tests. This means no more gambling on minimum order quantities – experiment with various styles, colors, and graphics to identify what truly resonates with your audience.

  • Optimize every element: Don't stop at product design! Gelato empowers you to A/B test other crucial elements like product images, descriptions, and CTAs. By testing these variations, you can craft product pages that convert like crazy.

  • Seamless integration, effortless workflow: Gelato integrates seamlessly with your Shopify store, streamlining the entire order fulfillment process. Orders for custom products like t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, etc., are automatically fulfilled through Gelato's global network, and inventory updates happen in real time – no more manual management headaches.

By combining the power of A/B testing with Gelato's POD platform, you can minimize testing costs, gain invaluable insights, and finally unlock the true potential of your Shopify store. So, why wait? Explore the different subscription plans and sign up for Gelato now to boost your conversion rates!


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