How the Workplace Depot plan to double ecommerce conversions

For this week’s post we spoke to our friends at the Workplace Depot, the UK’s leading supplier of industrial supplies and warehouse equipment, about their top tips for improving ecommerce conversions.

A year after launching The Workplace Depot ecommerce site, we started to experience a slowdown in the rapid pace of growth in web traffic. Rather than putting more resources into growing new visitors we decided instead to turn our attention to improving the ‘conversion rate’. Approximately 1% of visitors to the website were placing orders but if we could get this nearer to 2% then we could achieve a near doubling of sales.

The four areas we decided to tackle to improve the level of conversions were as follows:

Postcode Look-up

Rather than having customers fill out their address in text fields we decided to use the address auto-fill and validation tool, Capture+, from Postcode Anywhere.

billing information

This had an immediate benefit in making it quicker and easier for the customer to give us their details – it sounds like a small thing, but by reducing the number of fields that a customer has to fill out, makes it that little bit easier for them. As highlighted below, improving conversions is all about making lots of very small steps that on the surface don’t seem very impressive at all, but ultimately they add up to making a genuine difference.

An additional benefit to standardising the address look-up was that we actually got an improved ‘quality’ of address data – something that made our database manager very happy indeed!

I mentioned the postcode look-up first as this is the easy win – it has a small cost and the Magento plugin makes it a breeze to install. We did this change more than a month before we tackled the other steps, and although this isn’t enough time to accurately measure the results, I would estimate that we saw a 10% pick-up in orders – maybe more!

Checkout simplification

It is well accepted in online marketing that the more you ask the less you get – so if you can cut back to the bare bones what you need to know at the shopping cart stage, the better the completion rate will be. The postcode look-up effectively removed a couple of lines as did the removal of the need to know the fax number and a second phone number! The repetition of the duplicate ‘delivery address’ was replaced with a check box saying ‘same as card-holder address’.

tick box

Another thing we did was to reduce the five step process to just one stage by putting everything on a single check-out page. Not everyone would agree with this method, but it seems to work for us.

Product Page

This is a difficult thing to change. We had created beautiful, colourful product pages but were uneasy that they were too ‘busy’; we liked the simplicity of say the Asos product page. It is quite black and white except for the product itself which catches the eye.

On our product page we toned down the info. buttons (they are now white and grey) and just kept  colour for the important things like the pictures, price, ‘add’ button etc. It won’t win design awards but it is clear and highlights the key things.

Workplace Depot

Landing pages

We were uncomfortable with the fact that we were sending some of our visitors down the wrong path due to the varied and diverse nature of our product range For example, we sell cable protectors which can be used indoors and outdoors, in offices, warehouses and car parks; they are sometimes also used as ‘speed ramps’ and can be confused with other things like cable ties and trunking. So if someone searches for ‘cable protectors’ they may well get the ‘wrong’ type. By making a landing page with everything on, enables people to quickly find what they were after.

We are still some way from getting a doubling in the conversion rate, but the steps we have taken mean we are certainly making real progress along the road to achieving this goal.

We’d love to know what you think of The Workplace Depot’s website and how you think they improve their user experience. Please leave your comments below.


  • Nice article, I particularly like what you say about landing pages, I am a big believer in their value. I use them a great deal to coincide with PPC campaigns, having a page with a lot of the clutter removed is a great way to increase conversions from my experience.

    I had a quick look around The Workplace Depots website and it looks good, I like the fact you place a lot of time and energy into your blog.

    Keep up the great work.

  • I agree with you on the product pages, I run an eCommerce website and we have invested a great deal of time into our product pages, creating unique and interesting content for every product – no small task I can tell you.

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