Graham & Brown

Conversion optimisation delivers 3,000% ROI in 12 months

Graham & Brown are an iconic British, home-furnishings brand. They have been making homes beautiful since selling their first roll of wallpaper, in 1946.

Head of e-commerce, Mark Leach, had an ambitious growth strategy; to increase conversion, grow online revenue and expand further into international markets. His goal was to increase sales by 40% year-on-year.

As part of our ongoing e-commerce conversion work with Graham & Brown, a key feature that contributed to the site’s success was a new and improved checkout.

After examining how real users experience the checkout, we created a more streamlined checkout that increased mobile conversion by 11.61% and desktop conversion by 10.23% which has lead to a significant increase in monthly revenue.

The improved checkout has significantly improved the customer experience, and helped Graham & Brown to increase conversion and revenue. With a return on investment of 1.8 weeks, the new checkout offers an smooth and seamless shopping experience in any country, language and currency around the world.

  • 11.61%
    increase in mobile conversion
  • 10.23%
    increase in desktop conversion
  • 1.8 weeks
    return on

Our strategy

We have been working on a number of conversion projects with Graham & Brown for a few years. One of the most important was to capture lost revenue from their ecommerce checkout.

We suspected that the existing design of the checkout was a significant factor in lost revenue, as there were a number of points of friction that we believed had negatively affected conversion.

As soon as a user progressed from their basket into the checkout, they were presented with three options: sign in, create an account, or guest checkout.

Our research found that the initial checkout screen acted as a barrier to customers

This approach has been widely used in the past, but is actually a barrier to potential customers who simply want to complete the transaction.

Another obstacle was that the entire checkout process was split across five separate pages. Worse, these pages did not validate any form input until after the page was submitted.

This meant that users would have to wait for each page to reload before progressing through to the next checkout step. As a result, we expected to see a considerable drop off throughout the checkout, as the process was overly cumbersome.

Our research found that a number of users struggled with validation on the payment step

Proving our theory

To prove our theory, we implemented Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce tracking into the existing checkout. This provided a much better picture of how the existing checkout was performing, by capturing product impressions, promotions, and sales data, along with events to track progress and dropout rates across each step of the checkout.

With prospective customers able to take several routes through the checkout (sign in, create account or use the guest checkout) we mapped our findings against the customer journey.

We found that only 75% of users were making it through from the ‘select checkout’ step to the ‘enter your billing address’ step. We had anticipated a large dropout rate, and we knew there was an opportunity to recover this lost revenue.

We then used session capture tools to look deeper at how actual customers were experiencing the checkout. The latest breed of session capture tools are miles ahead of any web analytics software. By capturing mouse movements, page scrolling, keystrokes and clicks, they record exactly what takes place during each visit. As research shows that eye and mouse movements are highly correlated, this approach allowed us to determine what site’s visitors were looking at and doing with a much greater accuracy. 

Armed with these tools, we could start to see exactly how customers were using the checkout and where there were points of friction. The tool showed us where users were struggling, with poor layout and signposting, issues with form validation, and frustration from waiting for pages to reload at each checkout step.

We took the evidence from our findings to make the case that a redesign was needed, and that it would increase conversion and increase revenue.

What we made

We began by creating wireframes to design a flat, clean and easy-to-use checkout page with different screens for each step. We eliminated every page element that was not strictly needed, simplifying the header and footer to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

Single page application

We created a single page checkout flow, using React.js, to ensure there would be no page reloads when moving between checkout steps. We used AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), which enables the server to send and receive data without refreshing the page, to submit customer’s data, without losing them in the process.

Additionally, fields can be updated on the checkout page without a page refresh, keeping the customer moving them smoothly to the confirmation page and providing a high-quality customer experience.

Client-side validation of data

To ensure data was being entered accurately, we built the page to immediately confirm correct entries and alert customers to incorrect ones. In this case, we chose a simple green tick for a valid mark and a red cross an an invalid mark.

In combination with this, our team added a text alert to assist the user in correcting the error. For example, when an email address is entered without the ‘@’ symbol, a text alert appears ‘Please enter a valid email address’. This is a feature ensures that customers don’t get frustrated, unable to understand what it is they need to correct before being able to move on with the checkout process.

Guest checkout option

We knew that one of the easiest ways to lose a potential customer is to force them to register. Giving them the headache of filling out extra forms, even before they are given the option to hand over their money, will lead to checkout abandonment.

With the redesign, our team used a ‘Guest Checkout’ as the primary option for a customer beginning the checkout process, to speed up their journey to a completed payment. A ‘Previously Registered?’ login option was incorporated at the top of the checkout page, but at no stage would a user be forced to register.

Postcode lookup function

We added this function to the ‘Address Details’ section of the checkout process, making it easier for the customer to complete this section of the flow. All the customer needs to enter is their desired postcode, select a specific address from a drop down box and fields are automatically filled, allowing the customer to move swiftly on to payment.

Address book access

We provided access to an address book, to allow registered users to easily select from their previously entered addresses, further streamlining the checkout flow.

Immediate recalculations displayed

We ensured that, throughout the checkout flow, there was a constantly visible, up-to-date order total. Having a constant, accurate total allows the customer to see upfront how much they’re paying and exactly what they’re paying for, leaving them with no surprises further down the process.

Graham & Brown’s worldwide customers needed to be able to see immediately what cost changes occurred when selecting various delivery options, or choosing a different country or state to ship to.

Simplified payment form

To help the customer enter their payment details even quicker, we used auto-detection of card type for the customer at the payment stage.

I'd like to thank you all for the work you have put in. You have made something that is going to serve our business profitably, for years to come

Mark Leach Head of eCommerce. Graham & Brown


The improved checkout has significantly improved the customer experience, and helped Graham & Brown to increase conversion and revenue. With a return on investment of 1.8 weeks, the new checkout offers an smooth and seamless shopping experience in any country, language and currency around the world.

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