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Case Study: Banyan Pilot Shop

By redesigning the entire site, from architecture through CSS styles, we incorporated CRO best practices and delivered a 74% increase in desktop CR and a 57% increase in tablet CR.

Client Profile

  • Closely-held private company
  • B2C ecommerce with a significant brick-and-mortar presence
  • $20mm annual revenue (ecommerce only)

Challenge

Banyan Pilot Shop, a brick-and-mortar boutique offering supplies for hobby and professional pilots, has an incredibly strong brand. In a very small niche, Banyan Pilot Shop is widely recognized as the largest pilot shop in the world. Staffed by trained pilots, customers always had a seasoned professional to answer their questions. 

Despite the strength of the brand and its outstanding reputation for service, the ecommerce branch of the pilot shop simply didn’t sell. Conversion rates across platforms ranged from 0.65%-0.7%. 

Because of the nature of the industry, many of the tried-and-true tactics of retail simply weren’t available. For example, Garmin, Bose, Apple, and other leading vendors had minimum advertised pricing (MAP) requirements. This resulted in identical pricing across all competing websites. Incentives like gift cards or free products bundled with an item were, similarly, not allowed. 

Solution

Working with developers and designers, we reimagined the Banyan Pilot Shop website with an up-to-date look and functionality. By bundling services instead of products with price-controlled items, we significantly increased uptake on our highest-ticket offerings. 

Process

Because of the small size of this particular niche, major competitors are easily identified. Thorough competitive research and analysis enabled the team to create a must-have feature set that would bring our interactive components in-line with our competition. In addition, the team identified some key services that customers had requested. 

Results

Positioning: We changed the positioning of the Banyan Pilot Shop website. Before, it had relied on its connection to the brick-and-mortar shop which was widely recognized as a leader in the industry. Our new positioning statement, “We’re pilots, too” leveraged the expertise of our staff as well as differentiating from our competition (most of which had a few pilots but mostly non-expert staff). Customers responded strongly to this revised message. Inquiries grew by 44% and sales by nearly 100% (see below). 

Specific features incorporated:

Electronics concierge service: Because the largest-ticket items all had MAP requirements, we decided to bundle services with these items. We promoted an electronics concierge service that incorporated the following:

  • Pre-sale consultations and product recommendations
  • Post-sale set-up assistance and troubleshooting
  • Post-sale software and firmware updates
  • Warranty service center (some repairs were possible on-site, while others required shipment to the factory)
  • Warranty “loaner” units to keep customers flying while their equipment was serviced

This bundle of services resulted in increased sales and customer retention. 

Headset wizard: Aircraft headsets are among the most expensive and complex pieces of equipment pilots invest in — and also a source of many customer inquiries. 

In order to guide customers through their decision cycle, the team created a headset wizard. After asking a short series of questions, the wizard recommended three suitable headsets: a premium, mid-range and entry-level option. We promoted this wizard through Adwords PPC with outstanding results. 

Instant Update: Aviation charts expire after 3-24 months. Flying with an expired chart is illegal and grounds for a fine or suspension of a license. When a customer purchased a chart, we offered free enrollment in an Instant Update service that acted as a subscription for that specific chart. The customer received an updated chart a few days before expiration. We positioned this service as, “Why risk your license? Make it easy to stay compliant.”  

Website Redesign: The Banyan Pilot Shop website didn’t look or feel like a modern ecommerce website. By redesigning the entire site, from architecture through CSS styles, we incorporated conversion optimization best practices. This resulted in a 74% increase in conversion rates for desktop customers (0.65% to 1.13%) and a 57% increase (0.7% to 1.1%) in conversion rates for tablet traffic.

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