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Case Study

Paperstone gains 28% revenue increase from a few small header changes

  • Paperstone
  • Office Supplies
  • AWA client since 2016


Office supplies are the archetypal utilitarian goods. Low consideration. Frequent repeat orders from the same supplier. Buy on auto-pilot. And of course, a highly competitive marketplace.

AWA digital helped Paperstone, a Tunbridge Wells-based office supplies store, increase online sales by 28% over a period of 5 months by growing the base of new customers. Surveys, interviews and contextual inquiry gave us insight into the various personas, their objectives and the purchase decision cycle.

What we did

A large percentage of Paperstone’s audience are happy repeat customers. They’ve had good experiences with the company in the past, and as long as the products they need are in stock and high service standards maintained, they’ll keep coming back.


As with any online business, there is also a constant stream of new visitors. Unsurprisingly, they have higher bounce rates and lower revenue per visitor. Getting them to buy is the classic definition of Conversion Rate Optimisation - and vital to ensure continued growth of any business. Some of those browsers just won’t convert, no matter what you do. What to do about them? Ignore them. The ones of interest to us from a CRO perspective are those new visitors open to persuasion. Framing the webpage as a salesperson, this doesn’t translate into mere superficial UI improvements but rather optimising the underlying sales conversation.


An on-site survey to abandoning visitors revealed some anxieties, notably price and reliability. If we could pinpoint what loyal customers found appealing about Paperstone, we could mirror that to those undecided new visitors. So we asked the regulars what made them come back to Paperstone time after time. A customer survey yielded 15,516 responses which, together with a competitive landscape audit, gave us some important insights. What stood out was that Paperstone was perceived to have an impressive range, not to mention prices were genuinely good. This turned out to be a dynamite combo for frequent buyers.

We applied this insight to the header first

One of the first areas where we applied this insight was the header, home to five sales messages. A key piece of real estate, visible on every page. But were these messages aligned with customer priorities? What was the right mix? Could those messages be expressed more persuasively?

Heatmapping showed disproportionate interest in the ‘Free Gift’ link, which was considered to be a distraction. The only way to get clarity on this and other research questions was via split testing.





Paperstone CS Heatmap image

The main focus is on the search box, and the secondary focus is on the "Free gifts" tab (bottom right).


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Variation 1

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Variation 1 surfaced testimonials, hand-picked to counter key objections to purchase which had been identified through surveys and interviews. This resulted in a conversion increase of 13% revenue per visitor (RPV) @97% significance.

Variation 2

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Variation 2 focused on value messaging highlighted by happy customers. This increased sitewide RPV by 14% at 98% significance. Paid traffic responded especially well to the value statements, producing a higher revenue per visitor increase compared to other segments. This was a strategically important win, since it makes up a large part of Paperstone’s traffic. Converting these visitors at a higher rate effectively improves another important business metric, Cost Per Acquisition.

In the interim Paperstone redesigned the site so the header changed in appearance. The second iteration attempted to double down on the insight provided by the first experiment, namely that breadth of product range was a value claim which new visitors found appealing.


Instead of saying “massive choice” the message was made more specific to say “13,473 products in stock”. This is a common tactic used to enhance value proposition statements. It’s clear to see why: this small change resulted in a further 12% increase in RPV.


The next iteration targeted the “low price guarantee” message, which was changed to “price match”, making it more precise and actionable. This brought an 4% increase in RPV.

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What did we learn?

  • Given its prominence and site-wide impact, the header presents many opportunities for optimisation
  • Certain value themes impact purchasing behaviour more than others, particularly relating to new visitors who form the base for continued growth
  • Once those themes have been identified, the exact wording through which they’re expressed can have a marked impact on behaviour

Paperstone logo in circle

"AWA helped us delve into our target personas and their objectives, which provided us with valuable insights. This helped us increase our online sales by 28%. We're delighted with the result."

Jim Brown

What to do next

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