Testing times: How Papier boosted demand during the pandemic

Personalised stationery company Papier has grown rapidly selling its design-led products online. Despite our lives becoming increasingly digital, the eCommerce business has tapped into an appetite for high-quality, tactile paper goods.

So it is perhaps not surprising that demand has risen 300% since the beginning of lockdown – a period in which many have perhaps felt online isn’t always a substitute for the physical.

“Part of it was you couldn’t walk into a Paperchase store and pick up a notebook, so people were turning to online,” Allison Devine, Papier’s performance marketing director, tells Essential Retail. “People also wanted to be organised when they started working from home and to brighten up their desks – our designs are very eye-catching and cheerful and people were looking for that.”

Sales were also boosted when Moonpig – a big player in the personalised greeting card industry – face technical difficulties and its website went down for a week: “So the fact we were still able to get people their greeting cards the next day drove a tonne of their traffic over to us.” The business was fortunate its printer facility was able to stay open during the pandemic – as its personalised products mean it doesn’t hold stock but prints on demand.

Paper trials

Despite its success, Papier is eager to broaden its reach further and in March started working with A/B testing business Kameleoon to improve the visitor experience and boost revenue.

“It definitely helped during the pandemic as there was a lot of messaging we wanted to trial,” she says – such as alerts to customers helping them understand the business was operating normal.

By having an A audience and a B audience and comparing how both groups react at the same point in time, other variables that might affect behaviour are taken out of the equation. “With everything happening right now and changing so quickly, if you do a before and after test you don’t get a true learning. It is a lot easier to learn when you do the tests that way,” she says.

“It also allowed us to do a lot of testing around products that were getting a lot of volume, such as stationery and greeting cards. Because there was so much volume going through, it doesn’t take very long to find out if the test is working.”

Another example was an experiment around hiding pricing. “We tested whether or not moving pricing from the pages improved conversion rate, which it did by about 4%. And when you annualise it, that is a really strong improvement.”

After three months of using the tool, Papier was able to boost overall revenue by 6%. “There is still a lot of testing we want to do  – around payment options and delivery that could move the needle,” she says.

Over the next six months more big tests are in the pipeline, such as removing delivery costs and whether the increase in conversion rates could outweigh the costs. “It could be reducing the cost to zero or adding a threshold saying you have to spend £20 before you get free shipping. We’re just keen to play around with it.”