A Bid to Remember

RFPs are always a crap shoot. Your company could be 1) nothing but a name to fill out a mandatory three-bid list, 2) the only player in the running, or 3) in a legitimate competitive battle to earn the business. Resound’s partnership with DollarDays started as the latter, so there was a genuine sense of pride swelling in our team’s heart when we were awarded the project.

DollarDays, an online wholesale distributor and closeout company, was in desperate need of help on the website front. The site hadn’t been touched since the company’s founding in 2001. Yeah, you can imagine the problem already. Frankly, we were amazed the the company still had a customer base. The turn-of-the-millennium user interface was clunky and confusing, and ads were everywhere.

It was easy to assume that a simple reskin would solve all of DollarDays’ problems. After all, that’s what the RFP asked for. But we suspected there was something else going on behind the screen, so to speak.

On top of the website redesign, Resound proposed an audit to help DollarDays get insight on who was visiting the site and why. There had to be something compelling about the business for visitors to put up with the 2001-era UI and zero mobile optimization.

Going the extra mile sure paid off. We crafted a new brand experience for visitors to the site, and it was designed specifically based on data collected from the audit.


Digging into the experience

DollarDays welcomed our suggestion of conducting a brand audit prior to the redesign. It was scary, though. Companies sometimes flinch at opening their inner doors to outsiders with critical eyes. We made it clear from the start that that we weren’t looking for “gotcha moments” or opportunities to assign blame. We couched our observations with the pros and cons of implementing a recommended change and left the ultimate decision to the leadership team. We weren’t there to dictate. We just wanted to improve the user experience, which improves the brand in the long run.

When we dug into the audit, we found quite a few of these opportunities.

To start things off

We identified that most of DollarDays’ web traffic fell into one of three categories: small businesses, non-profit organizations, and retail consumers.

It’s important to understand that DollarDays is an online wholesaler that sells products in bulk. That said, we were a little confused as to why individual retail consumers were visiting the site in droves. They weren’t buying a cases of flip flops, right?

Right.

Not realizing that DollarDays isn’t Amazon, they were the culprits leaving the site immediately. And why wouldn’t they? They’re not DollarDays’ primary audience — there’s a registration process before pricing information is accessible. Even so, we found that they were often leaving the site after clicking on ads featured on the homepage. This presented an interesting challenge. The ads were effective, but they drove traffic away from the site. And yet, the people being driven away weren’t really the target audience.

On the flip side

We found that many small business and nonprofit visitors were turning away from the site largely because of the abundance of ads.

They had a different expectation for a B2B shopping experience, and the current state of the site wasn’t living up to expectations. Because these groups were DollarDays’ primary audience, it was critical to address this issue. Competitors had also updated their sites and the streamlined the checkout process. So, site changes were paramount to DollarDays’ survival.


“We couldn't be happier about the new site. The improvements made were exactly what our customers wanted. The strong feedback we're getting tells us we're doing something right!”

- Marc Joseph, CEO

A Strategic Compromise

We’ll be honest. Our initial recommendation to DollarDays following the audit was to completely ditch all of the ads that were taking retail consumers away from the site. We had the data (on our end) to back up the recommendation and the evidence to show that the brand experience was suffering in the eyes of the primary audience. Cue the consultative trumpets!

What we didn’t know: there was a legitimate business reason to keep the ads – they provided an additional source of revenue even if retail consumers were abandoning the site.

Okay...makes dollars and cents sense.

We arrived at a strategic compromise with DollarDays: shed some (not all) of the ads to cater to those retail visitors, but rearrange them on the site so that business and nonprofit customers wouldn’t be distracted. If we had focused solely on doing what “looks good” instead of balancing the business sense, DollarDays would have sacrificed an important source of revenue.

And let’s consider the nature of the internet. No matter how clearly DollarDays communicated its mission to serve small businesses and nonprofits, individual consumers who shop online were bound to find them anyway. Keeping a few ads present for those inevitable visitors provided a source of value to them. The message was something like, “Hey, we may not be the best place for you to buy that single pair of sunglasses you wanted, but here’s a place that might better serve you.”

After: Resound produced a clearer and more effective user interface.

Purposeful Front-end (and Back-end) Design

With the ad-slimming strategy in place to cater to the secondary audience, it was time to focus our energy on how to better serve small businesses and nonprofits.

These B2B shoppers had navigated the entire shopping experience for years as the lifeblood of DollarDays, but our audit showed a number of pain points for them:

  • The messaging on the site didn’t make it clear that DollarDays
 caters to a B2B audience
  • Registering for an account was cumbersome
  • The shopping cart experience wasn’t easy
  • The over-abundance of ads was a turnoff
  • The competition was starting to look more appealing

First, we remedied the content and messaging on the site. Now, from the moment visitors hit the landing page, DollarDays’ bulk-sized offerings come through loud and clear.

  • We re-engineered the registration process to make it more intuitive and simple.
  • We overhauled the shopping cart experience so that buyers could see related and suggested items before making their final purchase.
  • We clearly differentiated and separated product promotions from third-party ads so there was clear delineation for B2B shoppers.
  • We also created a mobile-optimized version of the site, which didn’t exist before.

Within three months, we rolled out a completely new site…not too bad for a company that had over 100,000 SKUs.

Within three months, we rolled out a completely new site…not too bad for a company that had over 100,000 SKUs.

While we felt confident about the front-end changes, we weren’t satisfied with leaving the project alone. We watched the site’s performance over the first few months and realized that there was another opportunity to improve performance on the back end. Within three months, we rolled out a completely new site…not too bad for a company that had over 100,000 SKUs.

DollarDays ran reporting from the production site each day, slowing the site down significantly. If shoppers hit the site while the reports were running, load times were slow...and we all know how humans feel about slow load times.

They’ll leave.

Even after we did all the front end work to deliver a beautiful user experience, we knew that continuing to optimize things on the back end would give DollarDays the tools to perform at a higher level on the business front.

We created a reporting database separate from the production site, allowing DollarDays to incorporate even more data points in their reporting than they had before. We added an analytics software that freed up DollarDays’ back end developers from manually creating custom reports. Doing this helped DollarDays get true profitability reporting on an order-by-order level. They couldn’t do this before. They could track shipping costs by order, and this fed into their profitability report. With this back end work completed, DollarDays could make future front-end changes to the site and actually measure how those changes impacted profitability.

Customer-Centric
Redesign

“With our redesigned website, I’d say ‘new and improved’ is an understatement. It’s undergone a customer-centric metamorphosis, and has stunned our regular users with a ‘wow’ factor.”

-Jackie Eldridge, Director of Marketing


Results Speak

As our Managing Partner, Mike Jones, said, “They knew their website needed a redesign, but they didn’t know how to do it in a way that benefited the customer AND the business.” As we watched and measured results over the first few months, it was clear that our work made a difference for DollarDays’ bottom line. DollarDays saw:

12%Increase in Average Order Value

24%More Account Registrations

4xPage Speed Increase

81%Decrease in Bounce Rate

While the client was concerned about decreasing the number or ads and sacrificing that revenue, it was clear that we found a sweet spot that better served both the B2B and B2C visitors to the site.