On day two of IRCE, Nathan Decker, ecommerce manager at Evo, spoke about balancing detailed information with your lifestyle brand. While he admittedly is not much of a programmer, Decker loves the application of technology in business. He joined Evo in 2002 as its first employee. Since then, he’s launched many of the digital programs that are responsible for the brand’s success. The company sells skis, skateboards, snowboards, lifestyle accessories, and more through their digital channel and physical stores in Portland, Denver, and Seattle.
Decker attributes their success to various factors. Number one is their focus on collecting customer feedback to surface real problems. The benefits of post-purchase surveys are only reaped if a business has a process for reviewing and identifying solutions for the customer pain points on a recurring basis.
In Decker’s opinion, analytics is an augmentative feature, but in-person user testing is invaluable and not as much work as one would think. Decker has lined up years worth of projects from just a few weeks of in-person user testing. He recommends a book, “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, to help you drive customer feedback.
Decker also focuses on expertise and guidance. Especially with sports equipment, there are things that customers don’t know that impede the purchase.
Decker began performing tests around users shopping for specific products and product categories online. “There is so much stuff on here, and I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what all these pages and filters and attributes mean.” Based on the findings, Decker looked for ways to improve customer knowledge in a seamless way so shoppers can find products that match their needs and become satisfied customers.
For example, “rocker type” is a filter specific to snowboards. Many customers don’t know what they are or why it matters. As a result, the Evo team placed educational information about rocker type on the product display page. At the bottom of the page, there’s a 20-page guide, which includes a video that reviews the rocker design.
This content provides visibility in search, which is multiplied by every unique attribute.
Some Evo products are difficult to shop for. Specifically, ski boots are hard to buy in-store and even harder to buy online. To alleviate the difficulty of buying ski boots, the team created a guide for ski boot size, which includes 20 pages of the different aspects of buying boots online. The site highlights the guide on the results pages, the PDP, and in the faceted navigation.
”We’re thriving because we lean into what makes us special.”
The site contains numerous unique attributes that would be difficult for the layman to understand (boot sole type, forefoot width, ski boot flex, etc.). This rich product data takes time, processes, and systems, but it’s unlikely that Amazon will go this deep anytime soon.
For custom product descriptions, Decker has found outsourcing to be a bad idea. Their perspective and knowledge is a differentiator–one that’s wasted when the standard product description is used. Evo presents a neutral view that avoids messaging like, “This works great for everyone.”
PDPs for ski boots also include “Bootfitter’s notes” from sales associates who can look at a foot and know what’s going to work and what won’t.
Decker says they’ve had customers who send things back because they didn’t strap the boot correctly or remove paper stuffing from the toe of the shoe. They now encourage their shoppers to visit a nearby store when their order arrives so the sales associates can help them unpack the item and show them how to use it. This system has lowered Evo’s return rates.
This particular issue came up mostly in Evo’s call center, on the sales floor, and during the in-person user testing studies. To help customers find comparable and complementary products, such as what bindings and boots work together, Evo offers pre-packaged product combinations. The packages surface in a number of areas on the website, including a section on the PDP labeled “shop for compatible gear.” Customers can begin with a preferred product, such as snowboarding, and add complementary bindings and boots. Lastly, social proof provides confidence that desired products are frequently bought together.
In his closing, Decker encouraged the audience to go deep into all the things that make their brand special, align on the right features, think about the full customer experience, and try to solve the problems they find as best they can.
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