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  • 210% increase in clicks for anniversary promotion
  • 10% purchase conversion from interface tweaks
  • 65% of revenue now from mobile

How rapid experimentation drives new ideas and innovation for leading ecommerce fashion retailer

The Country Road Group is one of Australia's largest specialty fashion retailers with a market leading position in the mid to upper tier of the segment. Comprising five iconic brands - Country Road, Mimco, Trenery, Witchery and Politix - be it modern Australian designs, urban sophistication or accessories with a quirk, each brand has its own inspiring story to tell.

Telling those stories is now easier with Optimizely, creating incredible experiences for customers and key metric uplift to match.

Finding a better way to test ideas

Like many retailers, the Country Road Group’s online sites have become an increasingly integral part of its business, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer has begun an ambitious digital transformation journey to enhance its site and further grow its online operations. With 1.5 million unique visitors to its online stores every week, even a small conversion increase translates to a big impact.

The company had a lot of hypotheses about interface changes to drive clicks and conversions, but it needed a better way to run experiments.

"We’ve developed a roadmap and a robust strategy, but we want to push ourselves as hard as possible," explains Matthew Horn, General Manager Digital, the Country Road Group. "Our way of working has become a huge conversation. How can we meaningfully embrace agile? How can we better experiment? Experimentation is so pivotal to the agile philosophy."

Faster testing delivers immediate results

The Country Road Group wanted to overhaul how it worked and experimented. It wanted to move faster and test and learn more efficiently. To do this, it joined forces with Optimizely as well as its strategic partner, New Republique, a specialist consultancy dedicated to experimentation.

This enabled Country Road Group to run much faster, more powerful experiments, testing hypotheses and getting immediate feedback to interface tweaks and changes. One experiment involved moving the "Add to Bag" button above the product copy. This saw a 19% rise in clicks to Add to Wishlist and a 6% increase in clicks on Add to Bag. Overall, complete purchase conversions rose 2%, representing a complete purchase revenue increase of over 5%.

Another hypothesis was displaying a countdown timer on the Politix brand website would generate an urgency on the customer’s willingness to shop and make a purchase. Using Optimizely, the experiment was carried out immediately, resulting in a dramatic, instant boost in clicks and conversions. Add to Bag rose 4% and complete purchase conversions were up 9%.

Bright ideas, bold experimentation

The way the Country Road Group now tests is significantly different from pre-COVID times. Previously, the company took a very conservative approach. Now it has become much bolder with experimentation.

For example, the Country Road Group has used New Republique and Optimizely to enhance special campaigns. For the Witchery brand, a 50th birthday promotion was created, with the option to personalize a leather bag. Compared to the default page, which simply displayed a 50th birthday banner for Witchery, the improvement was dramatic. Clicks on the Homepage block more than doubled (up 210%), clicks on the original content snippet were up 155% and complete purchase was 77% higher.

"Our partnership with New Republique has given us real maturity in how we think about experimentation. They provide significant, highly valued thought leadership. Over the last six months, it’s been exciting to see New Republique give the value of experimentation a real and authoritative voice, backed up by work they’re doing with brands," Matthew says.

What’s next?

The Country Road Group is seeing dramatic results from the enhancements it has made so far. Mobile has seen tremendous growth, with 65% of revenue now coming from that channel.

By using Optimizely to drive constant improvements to its site, the Country Road Group is able to evolve in step with changing shopper behavior. It’s also better able to manage issues such as returns and the supply chain.

“We’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go. Our culture of delivering everything in ‘waterfall’ fashion was so heavily engrained that the appetite for risk was very low. Now people understand that it’s okay to break things when we’re trying new ideas. It’s not just testing and learning, but testing, learning and breaking. Constructive failure through experimentation is the price of progress on the digital front," Matthew says.



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