Conversion in e-commerce generally refers to a process where site visitors become paying customers. This portfolio entry discusses some of the analysis conducted for the one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world. I also refer to some of the mobile device simulations and related functions used to verify (and in some cases, dismiss) the assumptions on which the company’s win-loss analytics was based. And finally, I show some of the tooling used to verify partner data feeds and how that became a central component to a new distributed conversion marketing strategy.
Web versus Mobile
One of the key components of this project was the establishment of a group of micro-services that would serve as an interface between mobile users and the legacy commerce servers. This was new to the company, and so our baseline of information stemmed from web-only user activity. While there are many new wrinkles that are introduced in the API-building process, many of the assumptions about the conversion rate(s) originated from the up-to-then web-only data. And as our working group later found out, that “model” ended up being a collection of very old data and grossly inaccurate generalizations.
Cart Crashes & Other Blind Spots
One of the main conversion marketing tactics used by the company was a timed cart, a function which served a dual purpose in the legacy technology stack. Once the user had selected an item, they had a few minutes to complete the transaction or the cart would be discarded and the user would have to re-initiate the process. There were places in the cart workflow where time might be added to the cart, but there was an inflection point where the countdown was simply a means to release inventory back into general availability.
When we reviewed the web logs in order to get an idea of the conversion rate, we couldn’t see the difference between a cart that lapsed due to time-out, a cart that was intentionally discarded by the user, and an error from the server side that prevented the user from completing the cart transaction. All that was recorded in the web logs was the transaction ID for completed cart transactions. And that wasn’t the only place with a lack of data salience. When my team inquired about this, we were told that the logging was “too burdensome” so that level of detail was left out of the record. In essence, this left the task of recording that level of detail to the API and mobile developers – my team.