White Paper — three years of beta testing Stylaquin

Introduction

The first Stylaquin beta site is a gift and clothing boutique in downtown Providence RI. Their website had been established in May of 2016 but hadn’t gotten much traction. The company agreed to beta test Stylaquin in June of 2018. This paper details the results achieved during three years of beta testing Stylaquin and the decline when Stylaquin was removed.

When we first approached the company about beta testing Stylaquin, the website was not a significant source of revenue. They understood that as a beta site we would be learning and updating as we understood more about how customers were using Stylaquin. While we expected Stylaquin to improve time on site and items viewed, we were all surprised by the 468% increase in sales seen in year one.

Year one sales up 468%, online store sessions up 155%, online conversion rate up 99%, Total online orders up 406%

The Problem

Websites are designed so that shoppers can find what they are looking for fast and then checkout quickly.This is great when customers know what they want and just need to find it.However this focus on efficiency is not a good fit for customers who enjoy shopping just for fun. Power shoppers, the best customers to have, don’t shop because they need to buy, they shop because they love to shop. Power shoppers are typically women, and they were moving online pre-pandemic and are now fully engaged as the pandemic has shifted commerce from in-person to online.

What do power shoppers want that differs from the current online shopping experience? They want to see their options before committing to the cart. That’s why you see power shoppers with seventeen open tabs, each with a different item.Power shoppers want to fully understand their options before buying. They also want to be entertained while they shop. Beautiful design and a more fluid browsing experience lead to more time on site and more items viewed while they shop.
Creating an engaging online experience for power shoppers, without changing the efficient and streamline shopping experience that item-shoppers prefer, required some out of the box thinking—literally. Sarah Fletcher, Stylaquin’s inventor, came up with a patented way for websites to keep their existing structure and add the tools and engaging shopping experience that power shoppers want.

Laptop computer without Stylaquin

Product Design

Current websites are designed with top and/or side navigation. Products appear as thumbnails so customers can quickly browse through the collection. 

(Web pages shown are from the Stylaquin demo site. https://shopify-demo.stylaquin.com)

Stylaquin adds a thin bar in an i-frame to the side of a website. The bar acts as a portal to the Look Book and Idea Board features. This patented process applies to ecommerce and other applications.

Dragging a product thumbnail image onto the Stylaquin bar activates it. Clicking the bar lets customers toggle between the Look Book and the Idea Board. 

Laptop with screen showing the Stylaquin bar
Image showing website with Stylaquin bar on the right

On mobile devices, the Look Book and Idea Board spaces leaf in and out. We did not see any significant change in the distribution of mobile to desktop users. 

Image showing computer with the Look Book feature in operation open

Each time a product is dragged or flicked onto the Stylaquin bar, Stylaquin pulls the images and product information from the product and lays them out for the customer using an algorithm. The layout is fully responsive and changes with each product so each page is new and visually interesting.  The Look Book feature makes browsing up to 6X faster. Shoppers who use Stylaquin stay on site longer and view almost twice as many products as non-Stylaquin shoppers. 

When a customer sees a product that interests them, they can add it to the Idea Board. The Idea Board is where they can collect and curate all the products that catch their eye, change colors and sizes, and even move them around so they can see how the products look together.  There is a running total of what is in the cart in the upper right corner. Because shoppers can see all their possible choices in one place and interact with them, they have high confidence in what they are buying.

We also postulate that one of the reasons that more Stylaquin shoppers return to the site is to see if the items they added to the Idea Board are still there. 

Image of computer showing the Stylaquin Look Book feature.

Solution

Giving power shoppers a more engaging experience while they shop is just as important as having products they want to buy. Power shoppers are a source of revenue when they make a purchase, but they are equally important as influencers within their social networks. 

Stylaquin solves two of the power shopper’s needs for a more fulfilling shopping experience. First the Look Book feature gives power shoppers a more fluid and visually interesting journey as they browse a site. Instead of having to click in and out endlessly to view products, they can flip through a site like they flip through a magazine or catalog. This makes shopping more visually interesting because the product images are large and integrated with each other rather than on a carousel. It also gamifies the shopping experience which translates into almost twice the time on site of non-Stylaquin shoppers. Second, the Idea Board feature let’s power shoppers collect all the items that interest them without having to put them in the cart. They can move items around so they can be seen together, change colors and sizes so they are completely happy with their choices. This translates to a more return visits and a higher conversion rate. In the first year of testing alone, Queen of hearts saw a 99% higher conversion rate.

ROI

In the first year of using Stylaquin, the beta site (had they not been a beta tester) would have paid $120 to have Stylaquin on their site and $38 in usage fees. That gives Stylaquin an ROI for the first year of 452% . The second year the total cost would have been $165 and the ROI would have been 1,455% the third year the total cost would have been $215 and the ROI would have been 1,903%

Graph showing the change in online session before during and after having Stylaquin on the website

Online Store Sessions

One of the most powerful changes that Stylaquin brings to a site is the significant increase in online sessions. This is partly due to return visits by customers, but is also due to the site being “sticky” in Google’s eyes. People often assume that Google’s customers are their advertisers. Advertising is how Google makes money, but their target customer is the person searching. If Google doesn’t provide great search results, their customer will use other search engines. Content, keywords and speed do factor into how Google ranks sites, but the most important metrics are engagement statistics like time on site, and return visits. Google wants to send searchers to a site where they will find what they are looking for and enjoy the experience. The beta site experienced a 155% increase in traffic the first year of using Stylaquin, a 12% increase the second year and 18% increase the third year.  When Stylaquin was disabled, there was a decline of 21%, even though the pandemic was still boosting online traffic for most companies. 

Graph showing data of total Orders during Stylaquin beta test

Total Orders

There was an increase in total orders of 406% during the first year, 177% the second year (which included the start of the pandemic’s shift to online shopping, and 36% the third year. When Stylaquin was disabled, orders dropped by 62%

Graph showing the change in total sales during beta testing

Total Sales

There was an increase in total sales of 468% during the first year, 177% the second year (which included the start of the pandemic’s shift to online shopping, and 29% the third year.  When Stylaquin was disabled, sales dropped by 47%.

graph showing the change in conversion rate during the three years of beta testing Stylaquin

Conversion rate

There was an increase in the conversion rate of 99% during the first year, 183% the second year (which included the start of the pandemic’s shift to online shopping), and 8% the third year.  When Stylaquin was disabled, the conversion rate dropped by 52%.

Conclusion

Stylaquin offers websites a way to keep their current shopping experience, while adding another layer of features that engage and delight power shoppers. Giving power shoppers a more engaging experience just makes sense. They are not only the most likely to buy from a site, but they are also the most likely to recommend a site to their friends.

with the Over the course of three years on the beta site, Stylaquin improved total sales by 1,221%, total orders by 1,256%, and conversion rates by 289%. It also increased time on site by 70%, and increased the number of items viewed by 185% which made the site more attractive to Google and led to a 274% increase in the amount of organic traffic the site received. 

The Stylaquin team has pivoted from one-off website installations to creating a Shopify plugin. We are currently accepting stores into our beta program for the Shopify plugin. If you would like to be part of the next wave in online engagement add your name to the list by clicking the green button below or to learn more visit www.Stylaquin.com/ShopifyBeta.