How Farmstead Used FullStory to 20X Their Conversion Rate

Session replay helps remove friction in the UX — improving site navigation, reducing cart abandonment, and running experiments.

Justin Owings
Jun 28, 2017 · 8 min read

Our latest FullStories use-case comes from Farmstead, a same-day, farm-to-fridge grocery delivery service currently live in the Bay Area.

Farmstead, which operates as a subscription service, found that if shoppers would make that critical, first purchase, they were likely to stick around. There was only one big problem: potential customers were browsing the site, adding items to their cart, and then … nothing. They disappeared.

Jennelle Nystrom, who works on growth at Farmstead, reached out to say that FullStory helped provide insight into these cart abandoning customers. What’s more, according to Jennelle, insights from FullStory helped Farmstead achieve a cumulative 20x bump in conversions.

That kind of result is nothing short of incredible, so what were some of the actions Farmstead took to achieve it?

An aside on grocery shopping and UX friction.

When was the last time you reflected on the UX of shopping for groceries in a physical store? Right — never. Before we dive into the case of Farmstead, let’s consider grocery shopping.

Consider the last time you shopped for groceries. List in hand, you arrive at the store and plan your route. Navigating the store aisles in your rickety shopping cart, you scour the shelves, grab that impulse buy, check off your list, and fill up your cart.

Grocery shopping requires making lots of little decisions, each one bringing a small amount of friction. The more items you purchase, the more the friction builds. When it’s finally time to checkout, you’re a little worse for the wear — only to remember that one thing that you didn’t have on your list. You promise the cashier and dash out of line, “I’ll be right back!”

Grocery shopping online shares much in common with the traditional grocery store user experience, but there are important, nuanced differences.

  • Replace simply looking around at the stocked products in a physical grocery store with decoding a written site navigation and reaching category pages, scrolling and scrolling.
  • Replace scanning physical store shelves and taking in hundreds of products in seconds (Human sight is pretty high bandwidth) with waiting for product pages to load, scrolling, and reading product descriptions.
  • Replace grabbing an item straight off the shelf with clicks and page transitions. And how hard is it to remove an item from your online cart versus just putting it back on a shelf in the store?

As convenient as online shopping may be with other e-commerce businesses, buying a large basket of goods at an online grocer has the potential to be a frustrating experience with a lot of friction. Much can go wrong.

To make things uniquely challenging for online grocers, abandoning an online shopping cart is as easy as closing a tab. Contrast that to your “IRL” grocery store: when was the last time you, on a whim or distraction, magically teleported out of a store aisle leaving a half-full shopping cart behind, never to return?

The above challenges to the grocery shopping UX pose a problem for online grocers like Farmstead. Farmstead knew they needed insights to manage and eliminate as much friction as possible in their customer’s digital shopping experience.

Using FullStory session replay to understand Farmstead’s online grocery shopping experience.

Farmstead knew they needed to get closer to their customers to understand their experience and what was driving — or preventing — conversion, so they turned to a variety of analytics tools to understand their customer experience. Even still, important pieces to the puzzle remained missing.

When the Farmstead team came across FullStory on ProductHunt, they realized how session replay could fill in frustrating gaps in their metrics.

Like a physical grocery store being able to watch how customers navigate the store, session replay provides a complete view of how shoppers act online.

Seeing how customers actually experienced their site through watching user session recordings was powerful — “[FullStory] changed everything,” shared Jennelle. She shared further that:

We’d never really had an accurate understanding of what navigating our website looked like for a customer.

We were sitting in our office with all of these huge dashboards and screens around us, but we weren’t seeing the experience of using the site from the customer’s perspective.

FullStory gave Farmstead direct insight into the online grocery shopper’s experience by allowing Farmstead to see the experience through the user’s eyes — through session replay.

Before FullStory, Farmstead’s site presented shoppers with a category-based sidebar navigation — like the digital equivalent of grocery store aisles. The Farmstead sidebar contained 24 categories as well as other navigational elements like search. The grocery categories were pretty specific, e.g. “deli meats” and “charcuterie” or having separate categories for milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Above is a look at the original Farmstead sidebar. Lots of specific categories would seem to help shoppers find what they are looking for. However, on watching FullStory sessions Farmstead saw that all of these categories resulted in lots of clicking around, getting lost, and (likely) shoppers becoming frustrated.

On the face, the detailed categories made it clear where shoppers could find specific types of food. Yet when Farmstead began watching sessions of actual customers through FullStory, they observed shoppers clicking around the site furiously, backpedaling, and searching for things in the wrong categories.

Something was broken.

FullStory made it clear that the site was difficult for shoppers to navigate — not unlike how you might feel entering a new grocery store when you don’t know the layout. If customers couldn’t properly browse through the groceries how could they be expected to make a purchase?

It’s easy to feel lost trying to navigate a new grocery store IRL — Farmstead’s site navigation difficulties suggest digital isn’t all that different.

Applying insights taken from watching customer experiences on FullStory, the Farmstead growth team made a few important changes to the site navigation:

  • They reduced the categories that were presented by half — from 24 to 12,
  • Made site search more prominent, and
  • Introduced ways to suggest products while driving other views into the catalog (E.g. Added sections “Recipe Kits” and “Just Added”).

Here’s where Farmstead’s sidebar is today. You’ll note a lot fewer categories and a lot less friction for users:

The non-food categories were part of a larger strategy Farmstead was working on — namely, giving people new ways to figure out what they wanted to eat in the first place.

Each of the changes Farmstead made reduced the number of decisions required of shoppers. By collapsing categories, Farmstead reduced the number of digital “aisles” their shoppers had to navigate.

Watching sessions in the new layout confirmed that the refinements improved the shopping experience.

Sometimes less is more.

During one experiment, Farmstead offered free milk with new customer purchases. The promotion resulted in lots of shoppers clicking through to accept the offer. These shoppers went on to add items to their cart. However, the team saw that many shoppers were leaving from the page that showed their cart. Once these Farmstead users left the checkout flow, they never returned to complete their purchase.

When the Farmstead team dug into the problem with FullStory, they found that shoppers weren’t actually churning, at all. Rather they were trying to add more items to their cart by clicking on the “My Cart” text — which wasn’t a button. Ultimately, they got frustrated that they couldn’t do what they were trying to do and left the checkout flow.

Watching further, Farmstead found these cart abandoners were going back to the digital storefront so they could add more items to their cart — only to never came back to complete checkout.

The team suspected that by making it more intuitive to add items from within the checkout flow, they could make the whole checkout process and shopping experience better for users. The team put a new “Add More Items” button on the “Your Cart” page so they could make any additions they needed — without exiting the checkout flow. Sorta like the digital equivalent of keeping your grocery cart in the checkout aisle while you run out to grab that extra item.

Adding the “+Add more items” button allowed users to stay in the “grocery store line” and grab that extra item without abandoning their carts. The change doubled conversion for Farmstead.

This small change resulted in the rate of new customers making their first purchase doubling.

The solution was only possible by understanding users’ struggles with the checkout process from their point of view.

Perspective matters.

In addition to successes in understanding site navigation and checkout, Farmstead turns to FullStory for any experiment they run. They investigate customer behavior around specific experiments and iterate until they are satisfied. Once the experiment is complete, they turn to FullStory and map quantitative results to the qualitative experience of the new version of the site.

One experiment at Farmstead focused on reducing shopper decisions (and friction) through bundling together items commonly purchased together. Farmstead called these “Recipe Kits” — e.g. one such kit was for “Fresh Pasta and Garlic Bread” and included items like fresh garlic, marinara sauce, baguettes, butter, fresh fettuccine, etc. For any given “kit,” shoppers were not required to buy all the items but could add whatever they wanted to their carts, and all from one page.

Given the “Job to Be Done” of wanting to cook an Italian dinner, bundling together these items helped shoppers do the “job” and buy the right groceries without having to navigate as many digital store aisles.

A screencap from Farmstead’s Recipe Kit page for Fresh Pasta and Garlic Bread.

Watching session recordings confirmed that the experiment was a success. Now, “Recipe Kits” gets prominent placement in the sidebar navigation.

Between the site navigation simplifications, onboarding experiments, and improvement of the checkout flow, Jennelle shares that Farmstead saw a cumulative 20x increase in new visitor conversion.

Looking ahead.

Farmstead found that they could turn to FullStory to understand the all-important details of their shopper’s behavior, helping them reduce friction and increase conversions.

For Farmstead, it won’t stop with FullStory session replay, either. Jennelle shares they’ve only begun to use FullStory’s Page Insights feature, which reveals the most popular elements on any given site based on clicks and users clicking. The Farmstead team looks forward to promoting the most sought-after items and optimizing each page of their site to show more of what customers are interested in.

Farmstead’s excited to show people the benefits of online grocery shopping, and we’re excited to be an important tool in their process.

Thanks Jennelle and Farmstead for sharing!

Interested in hearing more ways FullStory is helping company’s build better products? Want to share your story? Tell us all about it. Email!

And if you’re not yet using FullStory, what are you waiting for?

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FullStory is the Customer Experience platform that helps everyone in your company build the best online experience for your users. Capture every click, swipe and scroll and unlock pixel-perfect playback, funnel analytics, detailed search and segmenting, and more.

Justin Owings

Written by

Chase a rabbit — find a labyrinth. Creator, FullStory-teller, Xoogler from the ATL.

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