Why the man who invented eCommerce didn’t bet on data
Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in 1979 – and geriatric grandmother, Mrs Jane Snowball, was one of the first people he ran user experience (UX) tests on.
Yep… in 1979 – disco wasn’t quite dead and the Internet wasn’t quite born. But Michael Aldrich successfully got people to shop online because he wasn’t a slave to existing data.
He rose above the limitations of quantitative data and went in search of qualitative data. When he got the idea for online shopping, this was one of the first things he said:
His article inspired me to write this one, specifically for eCommerce professionals (which I am too). Here are 3 reasons an over-reliance on analytics and quantitative data is dangerous.
1. None of us are *actual* data scientists – not even the people with “data” in their titles
Why does this matter? There’s a sobering list of cognitive and research biases that can taint the way we collect, analyse and apply data. The scientists who use data to draw high-risk conclusions have to learn these biases (and many other corollaries), so they can be mitigated.
eCommerce professionals don’t have to do the same – understandably so (our job is demanding enough, in its own right).
Let’s not even get into the problems with the technology that collects data – e.g. Google Analytics and the ways it can skew your numbers.
2. Data can’t “say” or “drive” anything – data needs to be interpreted
Mock human reasoning all you want (I certainly have), but you can’t escape it. All data still needs to be processed by a human mind before it can become useful.
The data isn’t driving you, you’re driving it. As Tom Lloyd, our head of marketing, says:
I also want to draw a distinction between reasoning and guessing. Reasoning is the application of our senses and faculties to come to a conclusion – guessing is the abandonment of our senses and faculties, then pulling a conclusion out of our arses.
To effectively apply data, you still need the human touch.
3. Relying on only one type of data is like begging to be lied to
Don’t rely solely on analytics and A/B tests… or, indeed, only on UX testing and qualitative data. Combine quantitative with qualitative data and UX testing – just like the inventor of eCommerce did – to achieve unprecedented growth.
Check out the microsite: UX and eCommerce – Separated at Birth
Michael Aldrich’s story, and the successes of our clients with UX testing, inspired me and the team to create a microsite for helping eCommerce professionals increase online sales.
It explains how UX and eCommerce were separated at birth – and how bringing them back together will blast the revenue from your eCommerce site through the roof.