With so many jan/san distributors now offering e-commerce sites, AFFLINK, a sales and marketing organization for the professional cleaning and related industries, advises distributors that once the site is designed, up, and running...that's just the beginning. What comes next, according to Michael Wilson, Vice President of Marketing for AFFLINK, is called A/B testing-trying out different versions of the site to see which is the better performer.

"The essence of A/B testing is simple. Even if system 'A' is working well, that's no reason not to try system 'B.' It might work even better and increase sales."

AFFLINK helps its members build e-commerce websites. Based on Wilson's experience, he shares some A/B testing tips that might help jan/san distributors and organizations with their own e-commerce presence:

 • Try adding "trust" badges. A trust badge is a seal or logo from a recognized organization (the Better Business Bureau, PayPal, are examples) that helps visitors feel safer purchasing from the site. A survey conducted by Econsultancy/Toluna found that nearly 50 percent of online purchasers feel more comfortable making a purchase when they see a trust badge.

 • Give "live chat" a try. According to a Forrester Research study, 44 percent of online purchasers want live chat assistance when they make a purchase. However, some buyers find these pop-ups a nuisance, making it perfect for A/B testing.

 • Take a stab at "time running out" notices. Some sites report an uptick in sales when they add comments such as "only four more in stock" to their e-commerce sites. It creates a sense of urgency that can lead to a sale.

 • Make product images larger. Offering more and larger images of a product can help boost sales.

 • Add security seals. Similar to the trust seals mentioned earlier, these pertain specifically to trusted ways to purchase an item other than providing a credit card. For instance, many organizations have PayPal or Verisign accounts, which they prefer to use.

"We can't promise that any one system will result in more sales," says Wilson. "All we can advise is to test different e-commerce approaches. The results can be significant."