This E-Commerce Technology Could've Saved Amazon Millions (And Increased Their Sales At The Same Time)


Amazon announced in February of this year that it was opening 100's of PHYSICAL bookstores across the US.


amazon twitter


Why on earth would Amazon do this? They have been pushing Barnes & Nobel out of business for years. Consumers continue to purchase more from while Barnes & Nobel has been reporting YOY losses.

But what Amazon realized is:


Offline retail converts more browsers into buyers than online retail.


It's not hard to imagine why. The ability to evaluate and experience a product in person helps eliminate any doubt about its quality and value. Conversion rates actually get worse as the size of the device decreases.



From a recent KPI benchmark done by the folks over at Moz.


There is a great deal of money being left on the table and Amazon has become aware of this. But what if Amazon approached this problem in a different way?


Instead of Amazon wasting millions of dollars opening physical brick and mortar locations, what if they could create the same in-person buying experience online?


In this post, we share how 4 different companies have created the offline experience, online. And how a little known piece of technology has doubled and tripled conversion rates for e-commerce sites, leading to double digit revenue increases.


The piece of technology that is doubling conversion rate for e-commerce sites


If you’re not familiar with Hoot, it’s a piece of technology that you can add to any e-commerce site which allows a user to view the product in a complete 360 degree view. This allows for the user to experience the product in a way that they never have before. They can zoom in, completely rotate the item, and really get a feel for the product.


So what results have companies seen by implementing a piece of technology like this?


google analytics screenshot-1


Hoot has a higher conversion rate and a higher overall order value. This particular customer only has a fraction of their products imaged by hoot, which is probably why only about 9% of visitors actually interact with hoot. However, it's evident that the 3D experience is making a significant positive impact on sales.


How do 360 product views double conversion rates?


I initally came up with the concept of hoot over 10 years ago. The problem I wanted to solve was that I couldn't tell what a product really looked like when shopping online. I felt like the closer ecommerce sites could get to shopping in a physical store, the more likely I would be to purchase products on the internet. 


Below you can see how hoot bridges the gap between online shopping and the in-store experience.






It's tough to articulate all the first-class elements that make the Rover Low TX the ideal choice for everyday adventures in 2D. The exceptional micro-suede detailing and tread of the rubber outsole that make them so remarkable aren't shown to their true potential.



In just one single spin, it's clear as a summer day why these distinctive shoes outshine the rest. The premium textile that delivers durability with style, and composition of the rubber tread patterned to mimic the ocean, are brought to life from every angle.


How do 360 product views perform on websites with less traffic and sales?


Below is a screenshot from one of our smallest clients.


google analytics screenshot-5


As you can see, their sales are inconsistent and they only have a few products on hoot. However, conversion rates are more than double for visitors that use the hoot. Last month hoot's order value was even higher, but with a site this small, just that one huge sale in the beginning of the month skewed the results. 


How do 360 product views perform on larger websites?


This is a screenshot from a client with a lot of traffic and a lot of sales. 


google analytics screenshot-7

Hoot has an incredible impact on larger sites as well. It's not the drastic 2X and 3X seen on medium size sites, but the total ROI of the photography services is much higher. The client above experienced a 20X ROI in this 30 day period alone. 


How do 360 product views perform across devices?


Let's review the data again for perspective:



From a recent KPI benchmark done by the folks over at Moz.


Now let's see at how hoot converts at a device level.


google analytics screenshot-8

Interestingly enough, during this 30 day period hoot actually performed better on a tablet. Take a peek at mobile though. It would be tough to find another technology that boosts sales like hoot does on touch screen devices. 


When do 360 product views not perform well?


Hoot doesn't work well for rush buying events, such as when a brand or one of their e-retailers offers special online promotions, discounts, or incentives to buy products.


google analytics screenshot-10

The screenshot above shows a client's sales during the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2015. As you can see, the increase in conversion is pretty low. This particular client doesn't offer discounts during this period of time, so visitors are instead purchasing their products from resellers that are offering discounts. The same holds true if a discount is offered. The lower price, free shipping, or incentive usually causes such a high increase in conversion, that it eradicates any difference hoot would have normally made. 

Hoot doesn't currently have any clients that sell below MAP pricing, but we suspect that hoot wouldn't be a good fit for them. Hoot performs best during normal buying seasons on products that have good price protection. 


What are we measuring in google analytics?


Hoot pushes event data to google analytics (GA) whenever a visitor interacts with hoot on a client's website. 


google analytics screenshot-2


As you can see from the screenshot above we push 5 events to GA:

  • Open: Visitor open's the hoot 3D experience
  • Loaded: Visitor has fully loaded hoot
  • Operate: Visitor operated hoot. Ex: spun the product
  • Zoom: Visitor zoomed in on the product
  • Close: Visitor closed hoot


How are we segmenting visitors with this event data?

Google analytics makes it really easy to segment customers based off of any data available in the system.


google analytics screenshot-3


To separate people that experience hoot from those that don't, we segment all sessions that include the event data "Loaded". This means that we are only including visitors that have fully loaded the hoot experience. If we were to segment customers with the "Open" event, then it would be a little too aggressive, as they may have exited before it it finished loading. If we segmented customers that had "Operate", "Zoom", or "Close" it would be too passive. "Loaded" means that the visitor has the experience fully loaded and is seeing the product in 3D. 


How are we excluding visitors that don't experience hoot?

The process is actually almost the same as including them. You just switch one of the condition options from "Include" to "Exclude".


google analytics screenshot-4


To summarize and answer the original question "What the heck are we measuring in google analytics?", we are using google event tracking to segment customers and measuring the difference between visitors that interacted with hoot and those that did not. 


Is this the same as A/B testing?


Nope. The main reason we don't have an example of a client running an A/B test is because we currently don't have any clients that are A/B testing with and without hoot. We want to provide screenshots from live accounts with a previous 30 day window. Many of our clients have ran a hoot A/B test with great results. However, the moment they see the results, they immediately turn hoot on for all visitors to avoid missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue caused by excluding half of their customer base from an experience that is proven to increase conversion.


The data we are sharing with you is all based on customer segmentation. Another example of segmenting customers would be segmentation via gender. Determining if male or female shoppers convert better on your site is very valuable data, but it's not the same as an A/B test.


What are we AB testing at this very moment?


We initially performed a great deal of A/B tests, and the results were just as positive as the ones we are sharing with you today. The biggest challenge is finding customers that have enough visitors to reach statistical significance quickly enough. 

In an effort to continually improve our product, we actually still run a lot of A/B tests. Whenever we make changes to our viewer, we run an A/B test with clients that have measurement systems in place. We are currently in the middle of an A/B test to determine if animated gifs convert better than 360 icons. Below is an example for comparison:



hootview ice cream scoop



So far animated gifs are out-performing 360 icons, but we have not yet reached statistical significance with our sample sizes for conclusive results. Check out the A/B test below, in which the "No Gif" segment represents the 360 icon:


google analytics screenshot-6


Pretty amazing data. The animated gif is outperforming the 360 icon across the board. The impact of just that one little change has pushed more visitors to use hoot which has made this client an additional $5,000 in the last 23 days. 


How and when will e-commerce sites transition into 360 product views?


We may never know the true reasoning behind Amazon's decision and have yet to see the outcome of their expansion into brick and mortar stores. However, it is apparent that they're missing out on a valuable tool that's proven to drastically increase online sales conversion on both mobile and desktop.

This technology is new though so its easy for a giant like Amazon to overlook this solution. I guess the real question is for those that have read this post and are in a position to share it with brands and retailers. What is stopping you from telling them that they should be adopting this technology? I mean after everything laid out above, how could they afford not to? 


Please leave us a comment or ask a question below. We love hearing from our readers.