Why ecommerce carousels are like pizza restaurants

By Paul Knutton

March 2, 2017

We’ve all been in that meeting. Each merchandiser is pushing to promote their own product, especially when they are sitting on stock. “Let’s put the orange trousers on the homepage” says one, “we must promote the new season product” says another, “menswear never gets exposure,” declares the last. You look at your watch, it's 5:45pm. “Let’s put them all on a carousel” you announce, “and get out of here,” you mutter under your breath.

As a well-respected ecommerce professional, you know that every time you suggest a carousel, a little piece of you dies. You know deep down that carousels have confirmed usability issues, the eye-tracking report from your usability session proved that users look around them and rarely focus on the selected images. If you dig deep, you understand that most users won’t see all of the slides in a homepage carousel, even one that auto-rotates. They simply don’t stick around the homepage long enough.

This broad-brush approach paints the wrong picture, it’s a lose-lose compromise. 

The carousel is popular not because it is loved, but because nobody hates it.

The same reason is why pizza restaurants are ubiquitous. When planning a restaurant visit, there is always a lone voice who will veto your cravings for fish or Greek food, but almost everyone likes pizza, even your fussy little ones will eat it, and that is where you will end up.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way, using Monetate you can quickly prove that the optimal action is to replace the carousel with a static homepage image. Then, taking a continuous-improvement approach, you can prove that showing one image based on a category you have established the user has an interest in, is even better. Soon, using the machine learning capabilities of the new Monetate Intelligent Personalisation Engine™ you will be able to determine the best creative for each individual based on everything you know about them. 

And I will get my Lamb kleftiko pizza with extra anchovies after all.

Paul Knutton has over 17 years ecommerce experience and expert knowledge in all aspects of web technology, ecommerce and online marketing in the retail, travel and service verticals.

Paul is a Senior Digital Marketing Consultant at Monetate. He supports EMEA Client Services from London, helping clients to formulate ideas, implement personalization and optimization initiatives across the Monetate platform, and offer support along the way.

Before joining the team, Paul was a Monetate client himself at Boden, where he managed considered improvements in customer experience across international markets, using Monetate as an integral part of his assessment and delivery.

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