The Opening Hours Experiment

August 22nd, 2012 Comments Off on The Opening Hours Experiment

Experiment at Oddyssea Half Moon Bay - Explore. Create. Discover.

Over the years we’ve lived on the Coast we’ve observed on weekends large numbers of people wandering around downtown looking in the windows of closed shops. And we asked ourselves “Why don’t those businesses open earlier on the weekend to capture this opportunity?”

Thus as we opened Oddyssea we decided that we would attempt to capitalize on this observation by opening the shop at 9am Friday-Sunday. Since we have the ability to analyze our sales by date/hour courtesy of Vend and we have a method for tracking “opportunities” – when a visitor or related group of visitors enter the store – we have been able to collect and analyze the data to test the hypothesis “There is a business advantage to having earlier opening hours during the weekend.”

Now, unlike a regular scientific experiment, there are significant limitations to our method: we don’t have a control vs. test group nor is the experiment truly repeatable given the variables of weather, special events, etc. Even with these limitations, we can definitely compare the 9-10am data to the 10-11am data from the same days to draw some conclusions. We analyzed 4 metrics, opportunities, sales events, sales dollars, and conversion % for each time period.

Results Table

Metric 9-10am 10-11am
Opportunities** 1 1.4
Sales Events** 1 3.2
Sales Dollars** 1 8.6
Conversion % 28% 51%

** Note these metrics were normalized vs. providing the raw data for this posting.

The results were unequivocal: For the 17 periods analyzed, we found that the opportunities were ~40% greater in the 10-11am time period than the 9-10am time period. On the sales events side, the numbers were even more telling, where the 10-11am period out performed the 9-10am period by a factor of 3. The real story is in relative sales dollars; 10-11am out performed 9-10am by a factor of 8! Conversions were also higher in the 10-11am period checking in at just over 50% vs. 28% for 9-10am.

Given this data, we are making a change to our opening hours reverting to a simpler 10am-6pm daily schedule as we can’t see any compelling reason to be open those 3 extra hours each week.

This being said, there are still some variables that could weigh into a decision to re-run the experiment at a future date. We still don’t have our external signage sorted out and this could contribute to some potential visitors not entering the shop. We are still new, it’s possible that over time that if we stayed open in these periods visitors would know this and take advantage of the relative slow time to enjoy the shop. We don’t know, but we will consider when/if to try earlier opening hours again in the future.

In any case, if you wondered why we changed our hours, you now have a peek behind the curtain as to our rationale. We hope this was informative and educational!

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